Snail's Postcard Post

The Deep South

The snail garden’s having most unusual weather today–overcast and humid, reminding me of the American South. So here are my postcards from that beautiful and complex region. 

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BLANCHE: I’m not properly dressed.
MITCH: That don’t make no difference in the Quarter.
A Streetcar Named DesireIMG_5555

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From Mama Snail at the end of a long book tour:

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IMG_5559IMG_5560IMG_5561IMG_5563IMG_5562Mama Snail is referring to this poem she used to read me as a wee hatchling, which I can still recite by heart:

A Comparison by John Farrar

Apple blossoms look like snow,
They’re different, though.
Snow falls softly, but it brings
Noisy things:
Sleighs and bells, forts and fights,
Cozy nights.

But apple blossoms when they go,
White and slow,
Quiet all the orchard space,
Till the place
Hushed with falling sweetness seems
Filled with dreams.

With this focus on Georgia, I would be remiss to leave out a postcard that captures the state’s dark side and the South’s ever-overshadowing history:IMG_5579

Caption: Stone Mountain, the largest exposed mountain the world with 583 acres of exposed granite, is a tribute to American history and a monument to the Confederacy. The Memorial Carving measures 90 feet by 190 feet and depicts three Southern heroes of the Civil War, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.

The South’s struggle for modern identity is summed up in this postcard. The region has a lot of history and a passion for preservation, but that history poses a great difficulty in terms of tourism because it generally speaks very negatively of the region, or turns a blind eye. The postcard’s caption tries to be neutral– ironically calling this “monument to the Confederacy” a “tribute to American history” as well–and mostly focuses on Stone Mountain’s physical attributes, but it’s all undone at the end simply with the word “heroes.” It ultimately kisses up to those still clinging to some romanticized notion of the Confederacy. 

The bas-relief was conceived by the United Daughters of the Confederacy in the 1910’s, and in 1915, the Ku Klux Klan re-formed at Stone Mountain with a cross-burning ceremony. The Klan continued to meet there until the state purchased the mountain in 1958. It is no wonder, therefore, that Stone Mountain was a frightening symbol of Jim Crow by the time Martin Luther King Jr. mentioned it in his speech at the March on Washington:

So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

If you watch the old footage or listen to a recording, the crowd goes wild when Dr. King dares to call out Stone Mountain as a place to be put right.  
I don’t think it’s quite there yet. When I visited Stone Mountain (through an amazing program devoted to equality and nonviolence through firsthand study of the Civil Rights Movement–check out Sojourn to the Past), it was night time, and someone or some group I couldn’t see was projecting a laser show on the relief while blasting Southern rock music. It was bizarrely insensitive at such a historically loaded location. 
Quite opposite in terms of cultural contribution, the South has fostered a wealth of great authors:
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William Faulkner at his home in Oxford, Mississippi, 1947. 
Photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson.
What’s special about this photograph is it captures Faulkner in his element. He was most at peace on his family land in Mississippi where he could drink and write unbothered in the company of his beloved dogs. Loathing to leave such comfort, he nearly bypassed the trip to Stockholm to receive the Nobel Prize.
The South, of course, has also been a wellspring of roots music. From jazz and blues, to country and bluegrass, to rockabilly and, ultimately, rock ‘n’ roll:IMG_5505IMG_5506
And south of the South, as some say, is Florida… IMG_5580
Caption: Built in 1923-24 from a rock quarry, the Venetian Pool is an elaborate public swimming pool that is also a nationally designated historic site. CORAL GABLES, FLORIDA
One of my favorite photograph location-postcards. Another from Mama Snail on a book tour.
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At 6″ x 9″, I think this is my largest postcard. Written the day before the Coral Gables one above. IMG_5575IMG_5576
And this is one of my first postcards:
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I’ve shared it before, but I just had to save this postcard for the finale:
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Y’all come back now, ya hear?
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This entry was published on May 8, 2013 at 8:09 pm. It’s filed under U.S.A. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

One thought on “The Deep South

  1. Pingback: Beignets in The Big Easy | Snail's Postcard Post

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