Clear green water, tulip poplars, sepia photographs, Japan, creeks, metaphors, etymology, hand-lettered signs, holding things in my hands, old things, pocosins, passports, the sound of Portuguese, clean lines, muted colors, pomegranates, Mountain Dew in a can, Mount Olive-brand sour pickles, Havana, country roads, country wisdom, turns of phrase, hot sunshine, Sharpies and Uniballs, gods of the crossroads and protectors of travelers, small groupings of similar things, children on their birthdays, serendipity, ancestors, lists, Polaroid pictures, pedicures, back stories, Sapelo Island, soaking tubs, a hard massage, privet blooming at roadside, sliced ruby-red tomatoes sprinkled with salt, blackberries, wild cherries and hogplums, sensitive singer/songwriters, Orion and the Evening Star, Wikipedia, maps and atlases, nostalgia, New Orleans, slow winks, slow grins, scuppernongs, drawls, the long curve of an inner thigh, the warmth held in the hollow of a neck, a warm palm in the small of my back, the taste of salt on a collarbone, learning, grace.
In 1927, students at Hampton Institute in Virginia protested over campus conditions, including among other things requirements that they sing for white visitors. When the strike ended after two weeks, the college suspended or expelled more than 200 students, including John Christopher Allen Jr. He began to build houses during the year he waited to be reinstated and later started a construction company. In this photo taken in the late 1930s, he is third from right, standing with one of his crews. Today would have been my grandfather’s 105th birthday.