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Posts Tagged ‘Broad Street’

Cassi’e’s Porch 1876, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Great, Great Grandfather & Grandmother on Cassie’s Porch 1876, copy shot June 5th, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Cassie's House 1876, Augusta, Georgia, June 5, 2007,photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s House 1876, copy shot June 5, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


We spent the day driving around Augusta, looking for landmarks, visiting cemeteries and churches. The synchronicities continue to happen, right down to the prime parking spaces on Broad Street. When we arrived at the 150-year-old St. James church where my mother had gone as a child, there just happened to be a woman there who had attended Sunday School with my Aunt Evelyn. She knew the whole history of St. James church and gave us a long tour.

Then we travelled out to a cemetery where my great grandmother Elizabeth is buried. Three of us scoured nearly every row on foot in the heat and humidity and could not find the gravestone. We were sweaty and tired and about to give up. But not until after one more pass. The last time was the winner. My step-dad stopped the truck on a hunch, stepped out and walked over to the exact spot where my great grandmother is buried, then pointed down, and smiled. It was one of those Kodak moments.

I wonder if it was the blue moon last week or the stars aligning in Taurus? Wait, are we still in Taurus? Maybe the tide has turned.

But what I want to say is that in the photos above my great, great grandfather Moses is in the foreground and my great, great grandmother Martha stands behind him on the porch of their 1876 home. My great Aunt Cassie was probably one of the children in the photograph. We used to visit her when I was a child. I have memories of her there, greeting us at the door.

The photos below were taken of the house yesterday. I stepped along the same brick sidewalk my ancestors walked a century ago on hot and dusty summer days. Details like this urge me on down into the deeper family history.

I scoured the photos to see what had changed, what had stayed the same. I remember the gray picket fence was there when I was a child in the 60’s. It’s not there now. I imagine the post in front of the tree might have been for hitching a horse. It was gone but we did see quite few cement hitching posts as we drove around downtown Augusta. That’s got to be a different tree growing in front of the house. But I find the overall structure to be generally unchanged.

How all this will play out in the memoir, I don’t yet know. I’m in the thick of it now. Full scale gathering. I need time to sit with all the pieces. What about place makes it home? The history here in the South is rich and controversial. But it’s simplistic and naive to think history is anything but gray.  You can’t lump everyone into broad, polarized categories. History is about individual people’s lives.

There was cactus growing on some of the cemetery plots, rooted deep in the sandy, dry soil. The thunderstorms of the last few days were greatly needed. Later, all of this will flow through me like rain and sink down on to the page. Living twice. Through writing I can experience everything twice. Each time I come here, I leave with more details. And a few more pieces of how place becomes home.
Cassie’s House 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s House 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

Cassie’s Porch, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.     

-Cassie’s Porch 2007, June 6, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Thursday, June 7th, 2007

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Magnolia, June 3rd, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

 –Magnolia, June 3rd, 2007, Augusta, Georgia, all photos © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


The magnolias are blooming in Georgia. And the mimosas, wisteria, Spanish moss. I don’t have to dig all that deep. Everything falls into place the minute I ask. My body is tired; I am holding all this in my brain. The 5th Street Bridge, one of the first Coca-Cola bottling plants, the haunted pillar, Richmond Academy.

Broad Street, one of the widest streets in the United States, and Green Street and Reynolds Street. Walking through Magnolia Cemetery where my great, great aunt is buried near her father who was a soldier for the Confederacy; watching my mother walk down the leaf crackling road with a plucked magnolia in her hand, laughing and smiling and content to be back in the South.

Chris Craft, June 3rd, 2007, Clark Hill Dam, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.Riding in the Chris Craft along the shores of Clarks Hill Dam. Calling the aunt I haven’t heard from since I was one or two. Hearing her Southern drawl on the other end of the line and knowing she’s related to me, bloodlines, blood kin, though I haven’t seen her in 50 years. It doesn’t matter. Before she hung up, she said she loved me. And I believe her.

My step-dad seems the happiest I have seen him in years. It’s as if he has a new lease on life. I ask the questions, we drive by childhood homes. He calls me Shug and tells me about Audubon Circle and the minute my chubby, two-year-old hands squeezed his cheeks and asked, “Can I call you Daddy?”

Hearing my uncle talk about our ancestors in the Civil War, photographs and relics lining his den, on shelves, and in drawers. Arrowheads and 400 acres of family farmland, and an island near Brunswick that can be traced all the way back to King George the Third; there’s proof on a letter that reads:


GEORGE the Third, by the Grace of God, of Great-Britain, France and Ireland, KING, Defender of the Faith, and fo forth, To All To Whom These Presents Shall Come Greeting: KNOW YE, THAT WE of our Special Grace, certain Knowledge and mere Motion, have given and granted, and by thefe Prefents, for us, our heirs and fucceffuors, DO GIVE AND GRANT unto…

And the letter is signed by the Surveyor General and the Governor in Council and dated April of 1763. Back, back, back. I listen, should not be surprised. All that history and the shape of shovels digging through the mind.

The things I carry are:

a Canon Powershot, an Olympus digital recorder, a trusty wirebound Supergirl notebook, a bag of Sharpies, Dell laptop, LG cell phone, cords to connect and connect and charge, two weeks worth of clothes, a 4 GB memory stick, black Adidas slingpack, camera bag, two sets of bifocals, a rolled family tree, water bottles, maps of Augusta and Georgia and South Carolina, a couple of rabbit fetishes, a lion, a turtle from Wyoming, and questions, yes, all those questions fall from me like curled rain.

Ameila's Magnolia, June 3rd, 2007, Magnolia Cemetery, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

              –Amelia’s Magnolia, June 3rd, 2007, Magnolia Cemetery, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


I carry the scent of magnolia, the purple of the martin, and the energy of all the ancestors, and I want to say I know what I’m doing, but I don’t. I have faith. I follow my nose and my heart and people seem to open to me. I watch generations before smile down on me, and generations to date, heal and let go. Soft kisses to the cheek and hugs all around. I am astounded every moment.

Tomorrow it is another trip to Clarks Hill Dam to meet my aunt who I found out helped her parents build the house I stayed in after I was born (and had photographed only hours before I called her). And I’ve located Mrs. Juarez but do I really want to spill the beans? Or should I save the story for the meet and greet.

Soldier, My Great, Great Grandfather's Grave, June 3rd, 2007, Magnolia Cemetery, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.I step across generations of sandy brown pine needles, past homes of Georgia brick. The land is red iron clay and the memories are mine. There is so much to say and too little time. I wanted to get something on the page, anything.

I wonder how long it will take me to sift the strainer and see what pours on to the page. It will not be everything. Only what is essential. Yet gathering these pieces leads me to feel complete.

It’s hard to explain what it’s like. All I can say is if you get the chance, go back and ask what you need to know. And write it all down. It is healing. It’s like discovering gold in a deserted mine where you thought the canary had sung her last note. But when you take a chance, and risk dropping down, you find the gleaming vein against a backdrop of emeralds. And somehow you know each line uncovers a rough-cut diamond made from thousands of years of lumpy coal, shining just for you.

Monday, June 4th, 2007

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