Friday, March 07, 2008

“Who is she?”

Obviously after just a couple of days—though I’ve heard Miz Windham tell stories for years and read “13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey” as a kid (it was practically required reading in Alabama, where I grew up, filled with great, creepy stories)—I don’t know all about who she is. But she manages to give quite a bit of herself away in a short amount of time.

She’s a woman who’s lived through a lot—in her town and in her personal life—and yet she appears to have come through it thinking the best of people and demanding the best of herself.

We stopped at the Live Oak Cemetery after lunch. According to Miz Windham, Selma is the northernmost point where Live Oaks will grow. They are scattered throughout this beautiful cemetery that looks like it ought to be in Savannah or Charleston rather than an inland Alabama town. They’ve been burying folks in Live Oak since the early 1800s—back when they knew how to bury their dead. I’ve included a photo of one of the more spectacular monuments, for Drury Fair Jones, who was buried in 1878.

I had no idea Spanish moss grew on anything but Live Oaks, but the azaleas (which were not blooming this time of year) and the camellias (which were blooming beautifully, see the second photo) were dripping with the grey-green moss. I could have spent all day wandering around.

But we had other places to go. The Edmund Pettus Bridge, the site of the Bloody Sunday Civil Rights March, 43 years ago this week, was on our list of must-sees. The bridge is longer than we expected, with a “memorial” on the side outside of town. I put memorial in quotes, because it does little to honor the dignity of the marchers with its rundown, almost tacky, brick-set plaques. The bridge was actually named long before it became infamous for a Confederate general, who went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and is buried in Selma. I like to think he’s rolling over in his grave at Live Oak.

Next up, the library, with its Kathryn Tucker Windham Conference Room, among other goodies. But that’ll have to wait until later.

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