I have been meaning to put this pic up since December but have been unable to find the link to the story about it until just now. This is the Coosa River at Fort Strother, which is in St. Clair county, Alabama - closest to the town of Ohatchee (maybe inside Ohatchee?). This area of the river is called 'Ten Islands'. Fort Strother was established by General Andrew Jackson in 1813 to fight the Creeks.
The first thing Floyd said, after thanking me for coming, was if he could show me all the places that the castle had been written about:
Well, that's not something you hear every day. See your dead relatives in what context?
Floyd started building the castle when his brother died. He sees 'pictures' of his brother, his mother, and several other relatives in the bricks, blocks, and mortar of his castle. Then he pulls out photographs and asks me if I don't see the very same thing - doesn't that look just like...and doesn't this look just like...and can't you see this person right here?
To Floyd, this is all very Divine-based. He's very in touch with his interpretations of Biblical teachings. And he loves to talk about Jesus, and the devil, and how awful people can be, and how it all needs to be turned around, and who's going to win, and this is how you get to heaven.
That's all pretty deep and Floyd has serious convictions. I came to meet him because I love to see how people express themselves through building/repurposing, especially if they do it on their own property. If you've read DFK for a while, you've seen my pics of environments by (I'm linking most of these to my Flickr photostream) Wade Wharton, Joe Minter, W.C. Rice's Cross Garden, George Kornegay, Rev. H.D. Dennis' Margaret's Grocery, Finster's Paradise Gardens, Charlie Lucas, L.V. Hull, Kenny Hill (gosh I think about Kenny Hill's sculpture garden every single day)...and I'm leaving out several more.
So this is something I love. Something, and people, that I want my children to know and enjoy in a million different ways.
But Floyd's message was pointed in a very adult way and when I got the first sense of it, Av took the kids off to enjoy visiting the castle as an adventure (yay! castle!), far out of earshot.
(Floyd called this the torture room, for tormented souls:)
I try to think of the universe as a wonderful, happy place where we all work as G-d's children for the good of others and our families and friends and ourselves and just try to make the best of everything. Floyd's message came across as dark, confusing, and unappealing. Floyd's believes he's going to be in Heaven one day but I think he finds the outlook for Man - for people of the world - not very bright. And that's such a contradiction to my rainbows-and-unicorns world (however naiive or unsophisticated my view may be) that I left never wanting to go back.
So there you go. Happy Halloween. (ha.)
Next week, I'll post about another castle in Tennessee, but this one's happier. It started out weird though. But it's happy now. Okay.
Oh, and this is Floyd talking very briefly about the castle in a documentary that came out last year:
God's Architects - Junior from Zack Godshall on Vimeo.
We were looking for somewhere to eat in Knoxville earlier this month and came up with Pizza Palace. It sounds pretty unremarkable, but it's something of an institution there - it's a vintage drive-in, and it's not just grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers and hotdogs.
They serve shrimp, oysters, jumbo ravioli, spaghetti, pizza, even veal cutlet a la parmigiana. I know, that doesn't sound like a good idea when you're eating in the car, right?!
...which got even more interesting with the little ones having spaghetti in the backseat. It went pretty well, though...
The food was pretty good, and the service was really nice too. If your entree comes with a salad, they bring that out first, give you plenty of time to finish, then clear that and bring the rest of the meal.
It wasn't until later that we found out that they had been on an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. The host has even mentioned it as one of his six favorite places in the country, saying "everything they make, they make from scratch."
I've seen a few episodes (not a criticism because it's almost funny, but I think the host's favorite year was 1985 and he never wanted to leave, i.e. the sunglasses, hair, and "Dude!") and some places do look pretty interesting. There's a map of all of them here.
13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey was first published in 1969 and by the mid-80s, at least, it was a regional 'classic' - even taught in schools. In elementary school, I remember being read sections of the book, and in sixth grade English my class was taught the book by a friend of the author. In fact, the teacher told of the time when she called Kathryn Tucker Windham's home in Selma and Jeffrey (Kathryn's home's ghost) picked up the phone.
He didn't say anything.
But we were told it was most certainly Jeffrey.
That teacher also loved to tell us (multiple times) that she grew up and went to school with Polly Holliday, another Alabama native, who played the waitress 'Flo' on 'Alice'. I remember thinking that I wasn't terribly impressed because Polly Holliday said "kiss my grits" and a lady should never say something like that! Especially on television for the whole world to see and hear! My sixth-grade sensibilities were offended.
Well, back to Jeffrey. Red Mountain Theatre Company in B'ham has turned '13 Alabama Ghosts...' into a musical, and it's being performed this weekend. Some of the performances are already sold out.
This is the show art they developed - a pic of Kathryn visiting Live Oak Cemetery in Selma:
That audience included Rick Bragg, a young fan who would become a Pulitzer Prize-winning feature writer and author.
“It’s funny that you can read something that’s intended to be scary, but it’s also reassuring and kind of staples you in place,” Bragg says. “It’s one of those things that is so inherently Alabama. It’s one of those things you just recognize, and if you mention it to people of my age, or any age really, they say, ‘Oh, yeah.’”
|Kathryn Tucker Windham|
***I didn't update DFK well at all last week - had so much going on (Shugie is two now!! pics soon!) but I promise to get back to daily posts this week, including the post about the castle we just visited in Tennessee that was in the visionary art documentary. And more...***
Over the weekend, news came out that Talladega College has partnered with the High Museum in Atlanta to restore the three Amistad Murals, which two years ago were appraised and insured for $20 million:
There are actually six panels total, and they were painted by Hale Aspacio Woodruff and have been hanging at Talladega College since 1939. The story reads in part:
Restoration will begin in January at the Atlanta Art Conservation Center, and will continue for eight to 12 months. The murals will then be on display at the High Museum from June 2 , 2012, to Sept. 2, 2012.
After the Atlanta exhibition, organizers plan to mount an exhibition of the murals that will tour the country. The National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., has already contracted to display the murals from Oct. 12, 2012, to Feb. 13, 2013.
After the tour, the murals will not return to Savery Library.
"My vision is that we build a between $10 (million) to $15 million art museum on campus that would house the murals as well as our art department," Hawkins said.
These are some other pics we've taken at Talladega College:
It was founded in 1867 by former slaves, Thomas Tarrant and William Savery and others, to educate the children of former slaves in the community. It started as a one-room building. When capacity quickly became a problem, they wound up purchasing a 'white' school that had gone into default, and the interesting part of all that was...Tarrant and Savery had been among the slaves that had built that school 15 years earlier.
The Amistad murals are in the Savery Library.
The school is Alabama's oldest private historically black liberal arts college.
Besides the super-fresh fruits and vegetables, one of the main reasons I like going to the big farmers market in B'ham (love the Curb Market and State Market in Montgomery too...) is all the fantastic signs:
(While this is a great sign, we like Niki's West, which is about two blocks further from here, better. And Shug's favorite food is Niki's rutabagas. Seriously. I raise them right! haha!)
Many of you will remember all the news with the destruction of the stone mound in Oxford, Alabama atop a hill that was used for fill dirt for the proposed Sam's Club there.
Well, the last thing I wanted to write about was something else negative going on with the mound or the whole Sam's fill-dirt thing, or the creation of the sports complex across the street.
In fact, the sports complex development has been on hold since February when the Corps of Engineers found out that they hadn't been notified that ancient remains had been found there. From the Star article early this year:
"As part of the wetlands permit process, archaeology is incorporated," Holstein said. "We told them there were 24 archaeological sites on that parcel of land, including a temple mound and village areas. The Historical Commission concurred, and the city signed off on it."
"They're going to find more bodies," he said. "(Indians) didn't just bury one person in a large town like that."
The Star has an article that came out recently about the whole affair.
What happened last month, though is really unfortunate.
An arsonist set fire to the historic Davis Farm plantation house and destroyed it.
The house was built around 1839 near a natural boiling spring, on one of the mounds. This is a pic we took of the house in March - you can see the elevation that the house is on:
Last month in the Anniston Star, Harry Holstein who is the professor of archaeology and anthropology at Jacksonville State University, was an author of a piece that read in part:
The Davis Farm property bridges both prehistoric and historical time periods. Initially, beginning as early as 8500 B.C., migratory bands of Native Americans chose to live at this location for many of the same reasons the historical landowners chose to live there: a large spring next to a major waterway, fertile land and abundant game surrounding the area. Two thousand years ago, an Indian village was well established along both sides of Choccolocco Creek in the vicinity of the former Davis Farm house.
Calhoun County was previously owned by members of the Creek Nation; Cho-Yoholo was but one of the Creek Indians who resided near the boiling spring on what would later become the Davis farmstead.
Handwritten notes from the Bessie Coleman Robinson historical collection indicate more than one mound once stood on the property, adding “the house stands on one.”
Christian reported artifacts were found when the fields were plowed, and his wife’s grandfather had once found human remains covered by large stones when plowing the field in front of the farmhouse. In 1935, the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) documented the antebellum house and its surrounding buildings, which included former slave quarters. It is likely some of the slaves are also buried on the property.
Based upon decades of investigations conducted in the immediate vicinity of the farmhouse, there is a tremendous amount of archaeological material remaining that would enhance the rich heritage of Native Americans and other historical residents of this area. This information needs to be preserved.
Previously, the concept of utilizing a portion of the property as an Interstate 20 welcome center was proposed. The area necessary for a welcome center would consist of a narrow strip of land running from the south edge of I-20 and along the west side of Boiling Springs Road to Choccolocco Creek. By creating a narrow strip of park-like land, the proposed facility could be tied into the Oxford sports complex on the other side of Choccolocco Creek by utilizing the historic iron truss bridge as part of a walking trail.
This would make a wonderful welcome center, regional information center, local museum and park surrounding the spring. Since there are excellent photographs of the original house from the 1935 HABS architectural survey, a replica could be constructed on the original footprint. This replica of the antebellum plantation, natural spring and surrounding park could then become the focal point for attracting thousands of tourists traveling I-20 and local residents alike.
An arrest has been made and the person has confessed to setting the home on fire.
I hope the project that Dr. Holstein mentioned, with the welcome center, museum, and park happens. That's probably one of the only good things that can come from all of this.
Oh! And then!
LSU had decided not to allow people on the mounds on campus during home games beginning this year. They published this:
Don't Tread on Me: University Takes Steps to Preserve LSU Mounds
The iconic LSU Mounds are in danger due to their popularity. The high traffic of home football games is detrimental to the structural integrity of these archaeological treasures.
Louisianans know a thing or two about preservation. History, heritage, culture – when these things are threatened, people generally band together and take a stand to save important elements of the state's unique composition. Archaeological concerns may not be as traditionally ingrained, but are no less important.
LSU researchers are hoping to cultivate the public's preservationist instincts to save one of the most iconic attributes of the university's campus – the LSU Mounds, which will no longer be accessible during home game days.
The LSU Mounds, which date back approximately 6,000 years to the Archaic period, are some of the oldest Native American mounds found in Louisiana, and have long been in danger due to their popularity and also from natural processes. To preserve them and minimize irrevocable damage, the LSU Mounds will have restricted access on heavy traffic days, namely home football games.
"This offers a chance for the public to see archaeology in action," said Mann. "We're hoping the LSU community will support our efforts to keep the mounds around for generations of Tigers to enjoy."
So then...on September 28th, the AP wrote:
Less than two weeks after LSU announced plans to block off 6,000-year-old Indian mounds on football weekends to protect them from traffic, it took down the barricades.
University spokesman Herb Vincent tells The Advocate that ropes and poles around the mounds were removed early Saturday for safety reasons. Later that day, children used signs reading "Please do not slide on the mounds" and "Help preserve the mounds" as sleds.
Update: This month, LSU decided to fence off the mounds again on high-traffic days, like home games. Thank you, LSU!
It was a great Kentuck! Here are a few pics:
Joe Minter - this is a piece that was acquired at Kentuck by the Museum of International Folk Art:
10th Annual Urban Art Celebration on November 4 to benefit Cooper Green Mercy Hospital. **So proud!**
Yvonne Wells' Michael Jackson quilt
Well, first, my computer is finally back (yay! yay!!) so I'll be catching up on emails, etc. over the next couple of days. Here's a slideshow of art by the artists at Kentuck - if you missed it yesterday, it's still going on today...