The Father Of What?

It seems as though every genre – from music to science – has a ‘father’ and sometimes a ‘mother’.  The father of country music is Meridian’s Jimmie Rodgers.  The father of the blues is Florence’s W.C. Handy.

The father of modern day gynecology, J. Marion Sims, is remembered in statue on the capitol grounds in Montgomery.  He isn’t actually from Alabama and was only here for a few years.  He came here and opened a private hospital for women in the mid-1800s.

The plaque at the statue’s base reads:

Montgomery 1848-1849.  
Operations he devised cured a then-considered hopeless malady 
gaining him fame as a benefactor of women.  
Founded Women’s Hospital, City of New York – 1855.  
Decorated by Emperor France, Kings of Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and Italy.  
James Marion Sims Statue, Montgomery AL
There’s another statue of him at Central Park in NYC.  When he moved to New York following his time in Alabama, he founded the Women’s Hospital, then helped found the NY Cancer Hospital which today is Sloane-Kettering.  Today on that site is the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
What makes it curious is that there’s a fair amount of debate about him.  He did a lot of study on the ‘hopeless malady’ that the plaque referred to on three Alabama slave women, one of which he operated on around thirty times.  This condition was more common when women went unassisted in labor and childbirth that would sometimes go on for days.

While it’s uncommon in industrialized nations simply because of the level of care and attention mothers receive, women still suffer from this in other parts of the world (between two and three million women, according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro’s bill that’s in the House right now).

What made me think about this statue was that there was an Op-Ed in the Sunday NYT a couple of weeks ago written by Nicholas Kristof about this condition and a hospital to treat it just opened in Danja, Niger.  Around 1000 or so women will be treated here yearly.  Most of the comments in response to Kristof’s piece were intelligent and give more information about how to help.  

I saw a documentary about it on PBS’ Nova back in September (it’s good):

Watch A Walk to Beautiful on PBS. See more from NOVA.

Rosa Parks Lived Here

That’s what the historic marker says: Rosa Parks Lived Here.  It’s just a few miles outside Abbeville:

Rosa Parks' Home

The historic marker reads:
Civil rights pioneer Rosa McCauley Parks was born on February 4, 1913 in Tuskegee, Alabama. Shortly after her birth her parents, James and Leona Edwards McCauley, moved here to a 260 acre farm owned by her grandparents, Anderson and Louisa McCauley. Her father, a builder, designed and constructed the Henry County Training School for black students in 1914. After a few years in Henry County, Rosa and her mother moved to Pine Level, Alabama to live with her maternal grandparents while her father went north seeking new building opportunities.

Rosa McCauley married Richard Parks, of Pine Level, in 1932. She returned to Henry County in 1944 on behalf of the NAACP to investigate the alleged rape of a young black woman by seven white youths. Rosa McCauley Parks gained national attention on December 1, 1955 when she refused to relinquish her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man. Her refusal to go to the back of the bus sparked a successful bus boycott that earned Rosa McCauley Parks the title of “Mother of the Civil Rights Movement in America”. She died at her home in Detroit, Michigan on October 24, 2005.

Douglas Brinkley wrote a biography of Rosa Parks several years ago for Penguin (the NYT did a book review on it).  In the book, he mentions that Rosa’s mother didn’t get along with her in-laws and found the conditions hard here, with this home so overcrowded, including the fact that there were four children sharing a bedroom with a dirt floor.

USA Today reports that earlier this month in Detroit, a lawyer sued a probate judge and two other court-appointed attorneys over Rosa Parks’ estate, that the judge “conspired with probate lawyers John Chase Jr. and Melvin Jefferson Jr., enabling the pair to rack up more than $507,000 in mostly unnecessary legal fees that drained Parks’ estate of its cash, leaving it $88,000 in debt.

Cohen also said Burton, through secret hearings and improper rulings, allowed the pair to concoct a bogus breach of confidentiality dispute.

Cohen said the judge used the dispute to strip Elaine Steele and the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute that she created with Parks of their share of Parks’ property, said to be worth up to $8 million.”

In happier news, a stone carving of her was installed at Washington National Cathedral this month.

On RideOn buses in Bethesda, Maryland, these plaques are installed:
Dedicated to the memory of Rosa Parks
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 2.0, thank you voteprime for use.

This Week’s Various

Amistad Mural, Talladega College, Talladega AL
The AJC writes about the newly-restored Hale Woodruff murals from Talladega College; they’re going to be displayed at the High beginning June 9.

A company in Oklahoma is now selling bacon drippings.  As they say, “Before Granny’s Good Ol’ Fashion Bacon Drippings, the only way to get bacon grease was to buy bacon, fry it, strain it, store it and clean it up. Now you can simply buy it pre-packaged.”

What do you think of Zach Galifianakis playing Ignatius J. Reilly in the upcoming Confederacy of Dunces movie?

I mentioned before Jim Shahin’s article in the WP about ‘new’ barbecue — this week he mentioned that the comments in response were negative, and the best one mocked but sounds so familiar:  Funny little food made of smoked rodent cheek and rumor of carrot, breathlessly placed on baby leaf of daffodil and finished with a droplet of chanterelle and roasted bat ear barbecue sauce with dolphin milk Parmesan chip.

Wow at the Mississippi teams that won at Memphis in May. Yazoo’s Delta Q is from Hernando, Red Hot Smokers is from Olive Branch, Natural Born Grillers is from Southaven, and The Shed is from Ocean Springs.

Article about Sherryl Lutz (Sherry Lutz) and her pottery in the T-P this week.

There’s a Frank Fleming sculpture on eBay this week.

Give Me That Old Time Religion‘ exhibit at Piedmont College in Demorest, Georgia now through July 20. Among the pieces on exhibit are those of R.A. Miller, Lanier Meaders, Finster, and Mose T.

Sorry to hear that the Times-Pic, the H’ville Times, B’ham News, and Mobile P-R are going down to three printed editions each week.  There’s a Save the Picayune group on FB.  It’s a Newhouse thing.

Fundraiser Meals
The T-P has a sad piece about expenses for murder victims and mentions the practice of families selling plate suppers to pay bills.  The pic above is from one of these that Av and I supported in Montgomery a couple of months ago. “Faced with bringing more than $3,000 to the funeral home by Monday…They bought pound after pound of fish, beans, macaroni and green peppers, got a stack of Styrofoam to-go containers that reached the ceiling of their sister’s shotgun house and sold plate suppers from dawn to dusk on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”  I bring this up because if you ever know of a family doing this — either from their home or roadside under a tent, you are helping…

Inspired by Auburn’s Rural Studio’s goals, Woodbury University architecture students were tasked with taking a storage shed kit from Lowe’s, and with an additional $1500 and the directive to further experiment with paper, plastic or wood, asked to “provide light, ventilation, insulation and sleeping space for two” they came up with these.  More pics here.  I like the idea but some of these look more uncomfortable than necessary, especially the chaise lounge.  I’ll take this this this or…well, especially this.

Interview here with Jack Sanders who graduated from and used to each with the Rural Studio and his ‘Sandlot’ philosophy, plus the next Camp Design Build Adventure in June.

Happy to see that the Grand Prize winner of this year’s Mississippi Magazine recipe contest did not have a box of flavored cake mix as an ingredient as it has in the past.  Instead, the first ingredient — this time the winner was a savory dish — called for ‘6 Tyson’s mesquite or regular grilled halved chicken breasts, cut into finger-sized portions’ and last ingredient was a prepared packet of salad dressing.  Y’all, y’all, y’all.  And, well, the ‘Tangerine Pie’ that won the ‘Dessert-Pie’ category doesn’t have a single tangerine or other fresh fruit in it but does have Tang.  Y’all.

Well, at least it wasn’t the 2002 Southern Living winning recipe, which used an entire Mrs. Smith’s pecan pie as an ingredient (really.).

This is nothing against the sweet ladies who submitted these recipes and goodness knows that they must’ve undoubtedly tasted good in order to win (and we all sometimes take shortcuts in a big rush), but can we just start with fresh chicken in a chicken dish, and use real fruit in a tangerine pie?

Chihuly Garden and Glass opened this week in Seattle — it has what Reuters called the most comprehensive collection of his work ever.

MoMA is “accepting second-hand items from the public that will be sorted, displayed, and sold this fall in the museum’s atrium by artist Martha Rosler” and “The exhibition, running from November 17 to 30, will be Rosler’s largest garage sale to date. She staged her first sale at the University of California, San Diego, in 1973, and has since recreated it several times. (Over the years, Rosler has kept particularly special discoveries, like a cache of intimate family slides, for herself.) To participate, art lovers are invited to drop off unwanted belongings at MoMA and MoMA PS1, respectively, on June 2 and 3, as well as a on few to-be-determined dates in July” according to ArtInfo.

Nashville Scene has pics from preview of Creation Story: Gee’s Bend Quilts and the Art of Thornton Dial at the Frist; it opened today.

The Bill Traylor exhibit opens at the Frist today also.

Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery

If there’s anything better than shopping for plants, it’s being inspired as to how to display them — and in Birmingham, Charlie Thigpen’s Garden Gallery at Pepper Place has some of the best examples:

Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, Birmingham AL

Charlie worked at Southern Progress (Southern Living) for over twenty years and was featured in the magazine last year with this garden which had people calling Charlie from all over for one of these beautiful huge trellises.

Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, Birmingham AL

I get the impression that he carefully curates the plants he stocks — that he doesn’t just take everything from any one grower, but brings in selected varieties that work and are interesting.  A couple of years ago I got this terrific ghost pepper, and this year he brought me around to a certain red okra that I’m trying…

He and his wife Cindy bring in some really fun garden ornaments:
Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, Birmingham AL

…including bottle trees, below, and in the center here is a sculpture by Virginia Bullman and LaNelle Davis:

Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, Birmingham AL

…and — I love this quote — she says about these sculptures, “Our intent is to honor those women in all of our lives who feed us, clothe us and comfort us when we are down. They tend to be invisible but they hold the world together.”

Charlie Thigpen's Garden Gallery, Birmingham AL

Last year, two of my best friends and I took one of his classes to learn to make hypertufa garden containers (they’re made of peat moss, perlite, and portland cement — they’re super strong and not heavy like regular concrete).  I think he’s offering these classes once a month now.  The right-side pics are from our class, mixing and molding, and the large pic on the left is one of the containers I made that I just filled this week with some really nice plants from his shop:

Delta Mart

In Jackson, MS:
Delta Mart, Jackson MS
Delta Mart, Jackson MS
…and when I found this, oh it is maybe the best sign ever, finally a place where you can wash *and* eat your laundry with like-minded people.
Delta Mart, Jackson MS

Ezell’s, MawMaw, And Proustian Experiences

One of my favorite restaurants anywhere is Ezell’s Fish Camp in Lavaca / Butler, Alabama, a place so well entrenched in the Alabama culinary landscape that it’s in the middle of nowhere, literally between a cotton field and a two-lane, and doesn’t even have a sign to show where to turn to get there.  Oh, and I once left my purse there because I’m ditzy that way, they kept it in their safe overnight, and of course when I drove back to get it the next day, I don’t have to tell you that not a single thing was missing.

Have you ever opened an old book and the smell of those musty pages took you back to a certain time or place?  Hawaiian Tropic suntain oil and it’s summer 1977 all over again?  Or you smell crayons and you’re suddenly standing in the middle of your kindergarten classroom?  I once passed someone wearing a perfume that smelled just like roses and it immediately took me to being in the company of my great-grandmother, who wore that same scent (I had to buy it just to have in my cabinet to remember her with).

My Great-Grandmother
Beautiful MawMaw has been gone since 1981 when I was still very little…but I remember certain things about her so well — the top of her dresser, the stairs to get up to her impossibly tall bed, her jewelry, the way she dressed and carried herself, and of course her rose-scented perfume…

Well, besides smell, we all know that taste is another one of those things that can immediately bring back memories.  Some people call it a Proustian experience because in ‘Remembrance of Things Past’ Proust went on and on (for a zillion pages, this is Proust after all) about madelines and lemon tea and being transported to childhood in his aunt’s home.  The NYT Magazine had a go about it “Scientists suspect that taste and memory are inextricably bound. That taste, like smell, bypasses the part of the mind that is logical and educable and travels directly to the primitive brain, seat of instinct and memory…” how authors use this same feature — Anne Frank and potatoes, and Primo Levi and spaghetti.

All this to say, at Ezell’s they serve an exact replica of my great-grandmother’s coleslaw and every time I have it I am suddenly sitting at her dining room table.
Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

Av munches on fried pickles and I am happy as a little clam with MawMaw’s coleslaw.
Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL
I tried making it at home, and the coleslaw = finely cut head of cabbage + bit of finely grated onion + 1/2 cup of mayonnaise + sweet salad cubes, maybe 1/2 to 3/4 cup + sugar to taste, start with 1/4 cup.  Give it an hour or two in the refrigerator and the mayonnaise disappears and the water from the cabbage and the juice from the pickles and the sugar transforms into this sweet-sweet milk at the bottom of the bowl and ohmygosh here we are at MawMaw’s…

Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

Ooooh their catfish:

Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

Outside on their porch they have a board where people leave pictures from hunts, plus business cards and Bible verses:
Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

Ezell's Fish Camp, Lavaca AL

The Flood

More from our latest trip back to Rodney, Mississippi earlier this year:

This church is known as First Baptist and Mt. Zion Baptist No. 1; in National Register nomination papers it was described “One-and-a-half-story gable-front frame structure with heavy denticulated boxed cornice on gable end. Pointed-arch entrance door with archivolt trim. Interior-end tower features polygonal belfry with domed cap. Transitional Greek Revival-Gothic Revival, ca. 1850.”
First Baptist Church, Rodney MS

First Baptist Church, Rodney MS

There used to be paneling all along these walls but it has been stripped after the big flood last year.  The flood also helps explain the disarray of the pews, as the water came up very high — about 3/4 up the height of the windows from what I can tell.
First Baptist Church, Rodney MS

This image is courtesy Library of Congress, used without restriction, ref# LC-USF34-054747-D, by Marion Post Wolcott — how the church appeared in August 1940:

I Heart Strawberries

Strawberries have been in season for a while now (maybe they got started earlier than most times this year since it’s been so warm for so long) — the new ones at the market last week were verging on over-ripe already — so this week I’m going to be making all those beautiful dishes that we think of all year before it’s really time to move on to a love affair with blueberries and fast behind, peaches.

I have thought about the Fraisier I made last year, lovingly:

Oh, that strawberry shortcake was sooooo good:
Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry jam…great presents:
Making Strawberry Jam

and there were buttermilk strawberry popsicles and strawberry butter too.

Shug has said that he wants strawberry cake this year at his birthday party…