Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Poetic License~ Deep calling to deep....My Turn in Time...

 A Call out for Information

I am hoping someone may know of a theater I believed was called the Jax (sp)Theater adjacent to Booker T Washington High School in the 1950's.  If any pictures, a street name or anything will be appreciated. I know it had to be near S. Roman in Central City.  Also I am trying to find the name of a movie theater in the Lower 9th Ward near Andry St & Alfred Lawless School in New Orleans.  

 Booker T Washington HS
Thank you JHM

I wrote these poems when I returned to La, not back to New Orleans but to a very tiny town that I did not know until time for me to leave that I was not even 30 minutes from the birthplace of my grandmother Sally born around 1885 & my mother born in 1914.  I learned a lot in that one year some of which made me understand more of New Orleans or being in the South in general.  

It also got me going on picking up where I had left off, developing the stories of my visual art into a compilation of short stories.

I was able to connect lots of threads not only in my personal family but as a general rule the cultural experiences relearning my life as a Southern woman with a definitive West Coast groove mired into my personal moxie.  To say it was hard work would be a  serious understatement but at the same time their was an almost psychic relief in unspoken why's I had not been successful in relieving before.

Yesterday I had an oppportunity to speak with my eldest sister who is technically old enough to be my mother who I met for the very 1st time when I was 15.  I knew of her, but she was married had moved to California when I was a baby.

I learned a lot about my family through her recollections, filling in spaces I had not been able to not of lack of want and some heavy duty research, but there was still lots of unanswers...She was from my mother's first marriage so she was at an advantage of knowing my father while he courted & married my mother, to telling me about one great-grandmother who died the year I was born as well as my grandfather who died when I was barely 4.  She also knew some of the other great-great grandparents.

Well lo & behold I now have names dating back to 1850's in a missing link/branch of the family, what my father did for a living before I was born (he was a projectionist for a movie theater in the 1940's after serving in WWII).  It explains my early love of movies which the 1st one I had recollections of was Imitation of Life of which I wept for days afterward.  

I now know MY grandson has an ancestor, a great-great-great-great grandfather that too bears his name of Isaiah & who was enslaved.  He has a name & a last name & a marriage license to a woman name Laia with who he married post-emancipation.

Sale of John  for $1150 circa1854:

Man with medals 1840:
Oh the irony of discovering this on the 150th anniversary of the Civil War!
 Union soldiers 1860

My story today,however, is not about the Civil War or the criminal horrors of slavery.

It is about learning so much more about my family that were property owners, long marriages, long lives sacrifices, dreams some realized, many sabotaged.  I am learning something about life long before I was a twinkle in my parents eyes.

I also because of my sister have addresses of where some of these famil members lived & the houses still exist.  Thanks to Google map, I found my grandfather brother's home, my great-grandmother's home, even the neighborhood  I spent some of my adolescence in.  Amazing despite some of the minor "improvements", some of the pervasive landscaping that was there then 50 years ago sans the gravekl road now paved, it is still the same.  

NOTE:  I did not grow up in rural Louisiana.  I grew up in the city, pre-Civil Rights when segregation reign supreme.  I am from New Orleans, spent the tweener and early teen years in the state capital before going on to California.  So no stereotypical assumptions, y'all.    I had mixed emotions seeing some of the neighborhoods I knew as a child & going on into adolescence.    

My sister is sending me of all things which I am going to have framed some left over WWII war ration books that belong to my grandparents still intact which I will have shadowboxed & some of my mothers clothes and jewelry which will be repurposed.

NOTE: My mother is still alive & kickin'.  She will be 96 in June & still in her full mental capabilities.  My family tends to live to the 90's & 100's yrs.  It amused me for a moment that my sister was sending me some of my mother's clothes to wear when I am a whole foot taller then she, however I will make a quilt out of it.

So that is my story and here are the poems:

Coming Back South

By Jacquelyn Hughes Mooney©03

I came back South, not to pick wildflowers…
I came back not to see butterflies, clovers nor drink mint juleps.
I did not come back South for overly romantic, haunting reminiscing…
The mysteries that continue to tug at my heart.
Or to untangle the 19,228 yesterdays that laid up in the marshy soils.
And under the weeping willows or anchor itself in the marrow of faces…
Of ones who were not mercifully taken away from here.
I came back south to fathom the unbelievable…
The seemingly unreachable…
Persnickety tumbling on those back roads…
A paradigm on surface appearance seems to have no rhyme or reason.
I came back south to listen to wind sounds intertwined in trees at dusk.
And high moons at noon in June that shouldn’t be there.
Ancient winds of times blowing to unveil shield treasures…
To unfold secrets too many folks try to cover up, cover over
So for once we can all stop pretending
And that is why I came south.

All rights reserved JHM 3-24-03©

Coming Back South (Epilouge)

By Jacquelyn Hughes Mooney©03

And now I know…
Why things are as crazy as they are.

Folks just be a’moaning, just a’groaning…
Because they don’t know what they can’t see,
It can’t be my reality.

I ponder the paradox of a parasitic course.
Crushed souls crushing others into pulverized matter.
131,400 days of loathing.
And the monstrosity that grew, bathing all it came into contact with (even today).
Drenching everything and everybody that dared to be born.
Or challenge their right to live or perchance to dream.

Now I know the what’s…
And the why’d that you did to mothersfathersunclescousins and others.
Operating this carousel of delusions, a mirage for all the mismashed…
That was supposed to pass for living.
This is your reality.

Then the involuntary participants engaged themselves by becoming willing partners…
In this madcap twist.
Now I know what pounded all my days, all 18,245 (not counting leap years).
Folks just be a’moaning, just a groaning, ‘cause they don’t know what they can’t see.
It will not be my reality.

But watch those that have an elaborate scheme just putting on a show!
Pretending that everything is all right (when it ain’t).
And you go grazing through numbed motions feeding on the craziness.
If you must lie to the world, do not lie to yourself.
Folks just a’moaning…
Because they don’t know what they can’t see.

There is a life larger then this.
And you are larger then that!
Life is so plump and rich that it dares to swell you beyond capacity.
But will not delay or destroy all what you have to give.
See the doves flying over the valley of 1,000 hills, no longer crying
“I don’t know why, its too late, too late, too late”.
It will continue to be crazy as long as you want.
Folks be a’moaning, just a ‘groaning because they don’t know what they can’t see.
It is not my reality.

All rights reservedJHM6-16-03©

Potrait of a woman 1850

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