It seems as though every genre - from music to science - has a 'father' and sometimes a 'mother'. The father of country music is Meridian's Jimmie Rodgers. The father of the blues is Florence's W.C. Handy.
The father of modern day gynecology, J. Marion Sims, is remembered in statue on the capitol grounds in Montgomery. He isn't actually from Alabama and was only here for a few years. He came here and opened a private hospital for women in the mid-1800s.
The plaque at the statue's base reads:
While it's uncommon in industrialized nations simply because of the level of care and attention mothers receive, women still suffer from this in other parts of the world (between two and three million women, according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro's bill that's in the House right now).
What made me think about this statue was that there was an Op-Ed in the Sunday NYT a couple of weeks ago written by Nicholas Kristof about this condition and a hospital to treat it just opened in Danja, Niger. Around 1000 or so women will be treated here yearly. Most of the comments in response to Kristof's piece were intelligent and give more information about how to help.
I saw a documentary about it on PBS' Nova back in September (it's good):
That's what the historic marker says: Rosa Parks Lived Here. It's just a few miles outside Abbeville:
The historic marker reads:
Civil rights pioneer Rosa McCauley Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Shortly after her birth her parents, James and Leona Edwards McCauley, moved here to a 260 acre farm owned by her grandparents, Anderson and Louisa McCauley. Her father, a builder, designed and constructed the Henry County Training School for black students in 1914. After a few years in Henry County, Rosa and her mother moved to Pine Level, Alabama to live with her maternal grandparents while her father went north seeking new building opportunities.
Rosa McCauley married Richard Parks, of Pine Level, in 1932. She returned to Henry County in 1944 on behalf of the NAACP to investigate the alleged rape of a young black woman by seven white youths. Rosa McCauley Parks gained national attention on December 1, 1955 when she refused to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man. Her refusal to go to the back of the bus sparked a successful bus boycott that earned Rosa McCauley Parks the title of "Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in America". She died at her home in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 2005.
Douglas Brinkley wrote a biography of Rosa Parks several years ago for Penguin (the NYT did a book review on it). In the book, he mentions that Rosa's mother didn't get along with her in-laws and found the conditions hard here, with this home so overcrowded, including the fact that there were four children sharing a bedroom with a dirt floor.
USA Today reports that earlier this month in Detroit, a lawyer sued a probate judge and two other court-appointed attorneys over Rosa Parks' estate, that the judge "conspired with probate lawyers John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., enabling the pair to rack up more than $507,000 in mostly unnecessary legal fees that drained Parks' estate of its cash, leaving it $88,000 in debt.
Cohen also said Burton, through secret hearings and improper rulings, allowed the pair to concoct a bogus breach of confidentiality dispute.
Cohen said the judge used the dispute to strip Elaine Steele and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute that she created with Parks of their share of Parks' property, said to be worth up to $8 million."
In happier news, a stone carving of her was installed at Washington National Cathedral this month.
On RideOn buses in Bethesda, Maryland, these plaques are installed:
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0, thank you voteprime for use.
The AJC writes about the newly-restored Hale Woodruff murals from Talladega College; they're going to be displayed at the High beginning June 9.
A company in Oklahoma is now selling bacon drippings. As they say, "Before Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings, the only way to get bacon grease was to buy bacon, fry it, strain it, store it and clean it up. Now you can simply buy it pre-packaged."
What do you think of Zach Galifianakis playing Ignatius J. Reilly in the upcoming Confederacy of Dunces movie?
I mentioned before Jim Shahin's article in the WP about 'new' barbecue -- this week he mentioned that the comments in response were negative, and the best one mocked but sounds so familiar: Funny little food made of smoked rodent cheek and rumor of carrot, breathlessly placed on baby leaf of daffodil and finished with a droplet of chanterelle and roasted bat ear barbecue sauce with dolphin milk Parmesan chip.
Wow at the Mississippi teams that won at Memphis in May. Yazoo's Delta Q is from Hernando, Red Hot Smokers is from Olive Branch, Natural Born Grillers is from Southaven, and The Shed is from Ocean Springs.
Article about Sherryl Lutz (Sherry Lutz) and her pottery in the T-P this week.
There's a Frank Fleming sculpture on eBay this week.
'Give Me That Old Time Religion' exhibit at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia now through July 20. Among the pieces on exhibit are those of R.A. Miller, Lanier Meaders, Finster, and Mose T.
Sorry to hear that the Times-Pic, the H'ville Times, B'ham News, and Mobile P-R are going down to three printed editions each week. There's a Save the Picayune group on FB. It's a Newhouse thing.
The T-P has a sad piece about expenses for murder victims and mentions the practice of families selling plate suppers to pay bills. The pic above is from one of these that Av and I supported in Montgomery a couple of months ago. "Faced with bringing more than $3,000 to the funeral home by Monday...They bought pound after pound of fish, beans, macaroni and green peppers, got a stack of Styrofoam to-go containers that reached the ceiling of their sister's shotgun house and sold plate suppers from dawn to dusk on Friday, Saturday and Sunday." I bring this up because if you ever know of a family doing this -- either from their home or roadside under a tent, you are helping...
Inspired by Auburn's Rural Studio's goals, Woodbury University architecture students were tasked with taking a storage shed kit from Lowe's, and with an additional $1500 and the directive to further experiment with paper, plastic or wood, asked to "provide light, ventilation, insulation and sleeping space for two" they came up with these. More pics here. I like the idea but some of these look more uncomfortable than necessary, especially the chaise lounge. I'll take this this this or...well, especially this.
Interview here with Jack Sanders who graduated from and used to each with the Rural Studio and his 'Sandlot' philosophy, plus the next Camp Design Build Adventure in June.
Happy to see that the Grand Prize winner of this year's Mississippi Magazine recipe contest did not have a box of flavored cake mix as an ingredient as it has in the past. Instead, the first ingredient -- this time the winner was a savory dish -- called for '6 Tyson's mesquite or regular grilled halved chicken breasts, cut into finger-sized portions' and last ingredient was a prepared packet of salad dressing. Y'all, y'all, y'all. And, well, the 'Tangerine Pie' that won the 'Dessert-Pie' category doesn't have a single tangerine or other fresh fruit in it but does have Tang. Y'all.
Well, at least it wasn't the 2002 Southern Living winning recipe, which used an entire Mrs. Smith's pecan pie as an ingredient (really.).
This is nothing against the sweet ladies who submitted these recipes and goodness knows that they must've undoubtedly tasted good in order to win (and we all sometimes take shortcuts in a big rush), but can we just start with fresh chicken in a chicken dish, and use real fruit in a tangerine pie?
Chihuly Garden and Glass opened this week in Seattle -- it has what Reuters called the most comprehensive collection of his work ever.
MoMA is "accepting second-hand items from the public that will be sorted, displayed, and sold this fall in the museum’s atrium by artist Martha Rosler" and "The exhibition, running from November 17 to 30, will be Rosler’s largest garage sale to date. She staged her first sale at the University of California, San Diego, in 1973, and has since recreated it several times. (Over the years, Rosler has kept particularly special discoveries, like a cache of intimate family slides, for herself.) To participate, art lovers are invited to drop off unwanted belongings at MoMA and MoMA PS1, respectively, on June 2 and 3, as well as a on few to-be-determined dates in July" according to ArtInfo.
Nashville Scene has pics from preview of Creation Story: Gee's Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial at the Frist; it opened today.
The Bill Traylor exhibit opens at the Frist today also.
If there's anything better than shopping for plants, it's being inspired as to how to display them -- and in Birmingham, Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery at Pepper Place has some of the best examples:
Charlie worked at Southern Progress (Southern Living) for over twenty years and was featured in the magazine last year with this garden which had people calling Charlie from all over for one of these beautiful huge trellises.
He and his wife Cindy bring in some really fun garden ornaments:
...including bottle trees, below, and in the center here is a sculpture by Virginia Bullman and LaNelle Davis:
...and -- I love this quote -- she says about these sculptures, "Our intent is to honor those women in all of our lives who feed us, clothe us and comfort us when we are down. They tend to be invisible but they hold the world together."
Last year, two of my best friends and I took one of his classes to learn to make hypertufa garden containers (they're made of peat moss, perlite, and portland cement -- they're super strong and not heavy like regular concrete). I think he's offering these classes once a month now. The right-side pics are from our class, mixing and molding, and the large pic on the left is one of the containers I made that I just filled this week with some really nice plants from his shop:
One of my favorite restaurants anywhere is Ezell's Fish Camp in Lavaca / Butler, Alabama, a place so well entrenched in the Alabama culinary landscape that it's in the middle of nowhere, literally between a cotton field and a two-lane, and doesn't even have a sign to show where to turn to get there. Oh, and I once left my purse there because I'm ditzy that way, they kept it in their safe overnight, and of course when I drove back to get it the next day, I don't have to tell you that not a single thing was missing.
Have you ever opened an old book and the smell of those musty pages took you back to a certain time or place? Hawaiian Tropic suntain oil and it's summer 1977 all over again? Or you smell crayons and you're suddenly standing in the middle of your kindergarten classroom? I once passed someone wearing a perfume that smelled just like roses and it immediately took me to being in the company of my great-grandmother, who wore that same scent (I had to buy it just to have in my cabinet to remember her with).
Beautiful MawMaw has been gone since 1981 when I was still very little...but I remember certain things about her so well -- the top of her dresser, the stairs to get up to her impossibly tall bed, her jewelry, the way she dressed and carried herself, and of course her rose-scented perfume...
Well, besides smell, we all know that taste is another one of those things that can immediately bring back memories. Some people call it a Proustian experience because in 'Remembrance of Things Past' Proust went on and on (for a zillion pages, this is Proust after all) about madelines and lemon tea and being transported to childhood in his aunt's home. The NYT Magazine had a go about it "Scientists suspect that taste and memory are inextricably bound. That taste, like smell, bypasses the part of the mind that is logical and educable and travels directly to the primitive brain, seat of instinct and memory..." how authors use this same feature -- Anne Frank and potatoes, and Primo Levi and spaghetti.
All this to say, at Ezell's they serve an exact replica of my great-grandmother's coleslaw and every time I have it I am suddenly sitting at her dining room table.
Av munches on fried pickles and I am happy as a little clam with MawMaw's coleslaw.
I tried making it at home, and the coleslaw = finely cut head of cabbage + bit of finely grated onion + 1/2 cup of mayonnaise + sweet salad cubes, maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup + sugar to taste, start with 1/4 cup. Give it an hour or two in the refrigerator and the mayonnaise disappears and the water from the cabbage and the juice from the pickles and the sugar transforms into this sweet-sweet milk at the bottom of the bowl and ohmygosh here we are at MawMaw's...
Ooooh their catfish:
Outside on their porch they have a board where people leave pictures from hunts, plus business cards and Bible verses:
More from our latest trip back to Rodney, Mississippi earlier this year:
This church is known as First Baptist and Mt. Zion Baptist No. 1; in National Register nomination papers it was described "One-and-a-half-story gable-front frame structure with heavy denticulated boxed cornice on gable end. Pointed-arch entrance door with archivolt trim. Interior-end tower features polygonal belfry with domed cap. Transitional Greek Revival-Gothic Revival, ca. 1850."
There used to be paneling all along these walls but it has been stripped after the big flood last year. The flood also helps explain the disarray of the pews, as the water came up very high -- about 3/4 up the height of the windows from what I can tell.
This image is courtesy Library of Congress, used without restriction, ref# LC-USF34-054747-D, by Marion Post Wolcott -- how the church appeared in August 1940:
Strawberries have been in season for a while now (maybe they got started earlier than most times this year since it's been so warm for so long) -- the new ones at the market last week were verging on over-ripe already -- so this week I'm going to be making all those beautiful dishes that we think of all year before it's really time to move on to a love affair with blueberries and fast behind, peaches.
I have thought about the Fraisier I made last year, lovingly:
Oh, that strawberry shortcake was sooooo good:
Strawberry jam...great presents:
and there were buttermilk strawberry popsicles and strawberry butter too.
Shug has said that he wants strawberry cake this year at his birthday party...
Memphis in May.
Ouch. The NYT does a piece (with slideshow) to determine if your home is over-propped.
Guilty as charged: vintage typewriter (tho mine has Hebrew keys), monogrammed towels (um, I'm Southern, we monogram everything), taxidermy (we once bought a jackalope for Av's office, and Shugie has three of the Savannah Story busts from Anthro), LeCreuset pots (are you kidding, I have tons), bar cart (inherited), fresh flowers (we have Shabbat once a week, it's tradition).
Someone at the P-R in Mobile puts together a piece from past editions of the paper, and this week they ran this from 1862:
"How would you like a mint julep this warm day? In lieu of the fragrant concoction itself, we can only present you with a souvenir of the departed luxury:
"There is a compound, a sort of beverage, on top of which we dimly remember to have seen strawberries floating their pleasant fragrance, mixing sweetly with the more pungent aroma of a vegetable production somewhat of the color of grass; the whole blended and amalgamated into a perfect bouquet by the flavor of a liquid said to have been imported from France, where it is put up by sundry eminent chemists, among others by that celebrated savant, Mr. Otard, as Bordeaux. The compound had a pleasant gurgling sound, produced by small and transparent lumps of ice, causing a delightful coolness, blandified by a saccharine infusion. Drawn into the mouth by moderate suction applied to a straw, one end of which should be firmly but gently held between the lips, while the other is inserted into the glass vessel known as a tumbler, in which the ingredients are usually mixed, we have known people to swallow a considerable quantity without any very marked expressions of repugnance."
The Southern Independent Book Awards Finalists have been announced.
This from Black Book Mag on Asian influences in Atlanta's Southern food:
For example, at South City Kitchen, chef Chip Ulbrich makes a spicy collard green kimchee that he pairs with smoked pork belly, and at the festival he combined this dish with spicy pan-fried chicken livers with sesame. At Empire State South chef Hugh Acheson serves his striped bass in a dashi broth, adds kimchee to the rice grits, braises octopus in a fennel broth, and gives the smoked duck a leek and blood orange marmalade.
Treasures from the Rubble, a new documentary about the Fayette Art Museum.
The NYT writes about Wal-Mart possibly building next to a family's historic cemetery in Florence, Alabama -- but the issue isn't so much the cemetery they know about -- it's where the 80-or-so slaves on the plantation were buried that's the question:
Dianne O’Neal still lives on the rustic cattle farm that her husband’s family has owned since his great-great-great-grandfather purchased the land in the 1830s. She still stays in a log cabin built from chestnut trees that his ancestors chopped by hand.
But one aspect of the family’s long history here in northern Alabama is not so well preserved: Coffee Cemetery, an overgrown one-acre graveyard where the ancestors of her husband, Edward O’Neal, and their slaves are buried.
That has become a pressing matter in Florence because Walmart plans to build a store right next to the graveyard. The O’Neals’ biggest concern is that nobody knows exactly where their ancestors’ 80 slaves are buried.
That has left little evidence. “The only absolutely certain way to know who was there is to dig,” said Ms. O’Neal, 65, a retired art conservator who has led the family’s opposition to the development. “And that’s something we obviously think should be avoided.”
Friends of the Cabildo this weekend: tour of some of those great French Quarter courtyards.
Roberta Smith approves of the new Barnes in Philadelphia.
Coal Miner's Daughter is going to be on Broadway, and guess who is going to play Loretta.
NYT ponders: Why did Arthur Miller not give Willy Loman a surname like Schleifer?
Read this in the NYT Magazine -- Blues Travelers, fife and drum, in north Mississippi:
“You Yankees,” says my fellow concertgoer Matthew Tamke, wrapping his powerful arms around my head as though it were a football that he was about to rush into the end zone. “We’re not the Mississippi you think we are.” Tamke and I are at the annual Otha Turner Family Picnic, a legendary jam session that takes place every summer behind a tumbledown sharecropper’s shack deep in Mississippi’s hill country. The interracial crowd is a few hundred strong and drawn from nearly every stratum of local life — bikers, college kids, workingmen, toughs, gentlemen farmers. And then there are a couple dozen like me: urban cosmopolites eager to hear the deepest roots of the blues. Tamke calls himself “a redneck,” and he’s attacked me because I’m from The New York Times. Shouting into my ear over the music, Tamke makes me his megaphone for what he wants the outside world to know: “Our races have melded together, we share everything,” he says, voice trembling. “We love each other.” He’s squeezing my skull so hard it feels like it might pop, and it’s clear that he’s under the influence of something very powerful. The moonshine or the music, I don’t know. Finally, when it seems something is about to crack — my neck, or Tamke’s tenuous hold on sanity, or both — he lets me go. “It’s sacred,” he says, choking up. “It’s ancient, man.”
Hugh Acheson on Southern food and while he's done probably a hundred interviews in the last hundred days, this is one of the more succinct and better ones.
The Red Clay Survey: 2012 Exhibition of Contemporary Southern Art at the Huntsville Museum of Art, May 20 through September 16, 2012.
Besides my home, being with my family wherever on earth we may be, my favorite place in the whole wide world is Kenny Hill's Sculpture Garden in Chauvin, Louisiana. Here are pics from our latest visit:
Rather than list it here again (because I've posted our visits here before), Kenny's story is here at the Nichols State site. My entire set of pics from the sculpture garden is here on Flickr.
Kenny, wherever you are living right now, I get it. Thank you.
There are planned communities of today like those we all think of on 30A, and before that the government was putting together huge neighborhoods to support certain efforts, like this one I saw in Sheffield, Alabama with...well...cute red-roofed bungalows.
In 1918, the government built a neighborhood of 85 homes -- red tile roofs, white stucco exterior -- a school, parks, and barracks for personnel working in Nitrate Plant #1. As this was during WWI, patriotic sentiment was probably particularly high and the neighborhood was laid out in the shape of the Liberty Bell.
It all came about from a 1917 contract between the US and Airnitrates Corporation, a subsidiary of American Cyanamid, to build the largest plant in the world for the manufacture of ammonium nitrate. During construction of the plant, some workers were even housed in family tents and the workers consumed daily '7 tons of meat, 6 tons of bread, 9 tons of potatoes, 2000 dozen eggs, 1-1/2 tons of evaporated milk, and several tons of other miscellaneous groceries.' The plant was completed in eight months and eight days. (Architecture and Building, Vol 51)
In 1922, it was reported to a Congress subcommittee of appropriations that Nitrate Village One consisted of 2600 people, and the representative asked for $2000 to pay for a teacher ($1500) plus an extra $500 for incidentals, explaining that any unspent balance would be returned to the Treasury. (Sundry Civil Appropriation Bill, 1922)
The planning was done by the firm of Mann and MacNeille of NY, who were brothers-in-law. More about them and their other work here.
Liberty Bell shape:
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We took the boys to lunch at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge for lunch one day -- I had the crawfish cornbread appetizer for my entree and Av had the pecan crusted catfish, and the boys snacked on some of these plus some other things.
It wasn't as fantastic as I wanted it to be, but it was maybe a little better than Mulate's, which was originally here in Breaux Bridge but closed last year (their New Orleans location, though, is still going). The best thing of all at Cafe des Amis was Kelly Guidry's art (above).
Before leaving town, we ran over to Poche's for some boudin balls and a couple different kinds of boudin, below -- pork and crawfish. Nice:
Their sign outside the market: