|From "19th-century farmhouse, Lexsy" by Brian Brown. This is grander than
my grandparents' house, but it is in Lexsy--my grandmother Kate once had
a fistfight with another woman in Lexsy, back when she lived there for a time.
Evidently Kate "Little Bear" was defending one of the children...
I am hoping Brian will not mind if I "borrow" his image, as he once
borrowed from one of my posts to illuminate something about
the house my maternal grandfather, a house builder, made for his wife...
Be sure and visit his wonderful site, Vanishing South Georgia.
A long pale road of packed dust led by swamp and blackberry tangles: then a turn, and a visitor drove between fields of horse corn, tobacco, and cotton. The shack with its burst of trees in the midst of flat fields, its tumbledown outbuildings, the rusted stove that sometimes held rattlers, the gaudy flowers rioting from coffee cans, the half-fallen cedar with tiny scorpions in the cave underneath, the cloyingly sweet but tiny white blooms in the shining hedge that sheltered the porch from a blaze of sun: there is not one picture of the place. Not one. No one thought it worth the cost, I suppose. And later on the four-room house (living room, two bedrooms, kitchen--no bathroom, no hall, no closets or frills) was burned by vandals.
|Public domain, Wikipedia. Walker Evans photograph of 3 sharecroppers,
Frank Tengle, Bud Fields, and Floyd Burroughs, Summer 1936
How I still wish there was a photograph somewhere! One of the reasons I wrote A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage was to make a sort of picture for myself. And it is a book where my family slips in--my grandfather's mixed race brothers (my great-grandfather Nathaniel Youmans/Yeomans sired twenty-two legitimate children and at least two illegitimate children, though Ancestry.com doesn't know the half of it!) inspired the loss at the start of the book, and Pip contains elements of my father and one of my children. The well with ferns growing inside, the pomegranate trees, the chinaberries, the smolder of summer sun, the graveyard with its stones topped with shells: I wanted to keep those things, as much as I wanted to hold on to people.
Some years past I went back to the site of Lexsy and then the Minnie farm. No one then lived in Lexsy; perhaps they have come back now, though I doubt it. The farm was now owned by an international corporation; there were signs meant to bar us from a place that was one of my loadstones in this life. My mother and I bumped down the road, still pale dirt, between the blackberry ravels, and turned down the drive toward the house. Nothing built by hands remained, not the shack, not the outbuildings, not the well. Doghobble ran wild in the yard. The chinaberries still stood in a messy row. The fields went on forever under the hot Georgia sky.