Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Enchanted life in the ruins

Old corncrib with friendship quilt.
I've been an emotional mess lately.  I know I've written about family stories before.....well here I go again.  I'm working on a presentation for Quilt In the Grove, a quilt guild in DeSoto County that is set for September.

I thought I should focus on how to photograph a quilt for competition, how to take a photo for new release, and my favorite....how to take an art photo, one that tugs at your heartstrings.

So I took a little trip down the road in Barr to the site of my grandparents' old home place. The Cathey Place was built in 1856 as a dogtrot house.  It was added on to, closed in, painted and was a very respectable home in the area.  It burned in 1981.

I took my favorite quilt, my friendship quilt, you know the one that made me fall in love with quilts. It was made there by a Dandridge/Cathey cousin and contains the names of many ladies in the Looxahoma/Thyatria communities.

Since I couldn't drape the 1939 quilt on the porch swing that sat at one end of the house, I did the next best thing. I hung it from the loft of the log corncrib, probably the oldest structure in the complex.  It was made of logs and probably dates to early 1800s.  It is in pretty sad shape, but I thought you'd like a preview of my presentation.  The quilt is at home, or as close to home, as it can be.

After the house burned, the ground was leveled.  Only a few small artifacts can be seen, a canning jar that would have gone in Grandmama's cellar, the rocks that formed the base around a pen for our wonderful English Shepherd Pepper's dog enclosure.  I know where every water faucet was, can see daddy in his leather shop, tack hanging in what was an old well house, grandmama's chicken house, the white picket fences that were on each side of the porch keeping the horses that occasionally grazed in the front yard out of her red salvia.

My first Lone Star on the corn crib hall gate.  If
it looks crooked, it's because it is.

I had a special tree right behind the corn crib.  We would turn the horses out and down the lane and I would sit in the tree and watch them for the longest time as they took their time working down the grassy slopes.

I can see daddy in every nook and square inch of that place. Helping grandmama plant her garden, working a colt in the round pen, sending Pepper after a stray,  pulling corn from that old crib and shucking it off the cob with one turn of his wrist to mix in the horse feed, and with Penny.  He would lead her up to the big concrete slab near the cellar door and I could mount from there.  Sometimes, he would take her himself, to gather a few strays, Pepper at his heels. I'd watch as he rode away, reins in his left hand, his right hand on his hip, his hat at his signature slant, shoulders slightly slumped from arthritis and from relaxing in the saddle.  I'd like to think that's how he rode into heaven.

You can see I didn't come from the upper class in Mississippi, but I came from the enchanted life only a few experience.   Now upstairs to sniff a little more.

Old Cathey/Dandridge Place, built 1856 burned 1981.

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