Earlier this month, we made it to Floyd (‘Junior’) Banks’ castle in Greenback, Tennessee. It’s an unfinished castle that he’s been building himself since 1992 when his brother passed away. He said he’d like to keep adding to it but he’s on beta blockers and isn’t feeling so great anymore.
Where to start…
The first thing Floyd said, after thanking me for coming, was if he could show me all the places that the castle had been written about:
…and then as we are going around the side of the building, he turns to me and says “you won’t be offended if you see some of my dead relatives around here, will you?”
Well, that’s not something you hear every day. See your dead relatives in what context?
Floyd started building the castle when his brother died. He sees ‘pictures’ of his brother, his mother, and several other relatives in the bricks, blocks, and mortar of his castle. Then he pulls out photographs and asks me if I don’t see the very same thing – doesn’t that look just like…and doesn’t this look just like…and can’t you see this person right here?
To Floyd, this is all very Divine-based. He’s very in touch with his interpretations of Biblical teachings. And he loves to talk about Jesus, and the devil, and how awful people can be, and how it all needs to be turned around, and who’s going to win, and this is how you get to heaven.
That’s all pretty deep and Floyd has serious convictions. I came to meet him because I love to see how people express themselves through building/repurposing, especially if they do it on their own property. If you’ve read DFK for a while, you’ve seen my pics of environments by (I’m linking most of these to my Flickr photostream) Wade Wharton, Joe Minter, W.C. Rice’s Cross Garden, George Kornegay, Rev. H.D. Dennis’ Margaret’s Grocery, Finster’s Paradise Gardens, Charlie Lucas, L.V. Hull, Kenny Hill (gosh I think about Kenny Hill’s sculpture garden every single day)…and I’m leaving out several more.
So this is something I love. Something, and people, that I want my children to know and enjoy in a million different ways.
But Floyd’s message was pointed in a very adult way and when I got the first sense of it, Av took the kids off to enjoy visiting the castle as an adventure (yay! castle!), far out of earshot.
When we were done with the tour, we all met back up and thanked Floyd for his time. He invited us and any of our friends to come over any time whether he is there or not (email me for the address). So very gracious. But while I enjoy being positive, I also want to say that when it was time to leave, I was really, really ready to go.
(Floyd called this the torture room, for tormented souls:)
I try to think of the universe as a wonderful, happy place where we all work as G-d’s children for the good of others and our families and friends and ourselves and just try to make the best of everything. Floyd’s message came across as dark, confusing, and unappealing. Floyd’s believes he’s going to be in Heaven one day but I think he finds the outlook for Man – for people of the world – not very bright. And that’s such a contradiction to my rainbows-and-unicorns world (however naiive or unsophisticated my view may be) that I left never wanting to go back.
So there you go. Happy Halloween. (ha.)
Next week, I’ll post about another castle in Tennessee, but this one’s happier. It started out weird though. But it’s happy now. Okay.
Oh, and this is Floyd talking very briefly about the castle in a documentary that came out last year: