Every time I go home to Russell County, I am nostalgic for days afterward. And my most recent trip was all about sentimental longing for the past. I went to hear Glenn Mills, the author/photographer of the Forgotten Alabama series of books, talk about his photographs of a vanishing landscape that so many of us hold dear.
Margee, my friend and fellow member of the Mystic Order of East Alabama Fiction Writers, picked me up an hour before Wills was scheduled to do his presentation in the beautifully restored Masonic Lodge in Crawford. We got an early start, and enjoyed our leisurely drive down county roads lined with ditches rich in purple and gold wildflowers. It’s a drive my dog Cosima and I made in my Ford Falcon almost every weekend when I was first a student at Auburn. My roots ran so deep in Jernigan that I could make it a week, but not more, between visits to my rural home.
Arriving in Crawford half an hour early, Margee and I took advantage of the opportunity to buy Halloween decorations at the Dollar General. Margee, a retired art professor, is one of the most creative people I have ever known, and I have no doubt that the little plastic skeletons she bought will end up in some of her assemblages that sell in art galleries across the south.
The turnout for Wills was impressive, so much so that the event was moved from its original venue into the large gymnasium behind the Crawford Baptist Church. And he did not disappoint. He shared slides of his fascinating photos from every county in Alabama, along with the stories behind each one.
Wills actually did exactly what I used to dream of doing. He traveled the south taking photos of a time and place that is fading, and then he collected those pictures and stories into his books so that our past is preserved, at least on paper.
I not only reunited with friends in Crawford that I have not seen in decades, but also came home enthused anew to begin digging through the cache of photos I’ve taken over the years around Russell County.
For those who missed the event, check out Glenn Wills’s Forgotten Alabama Facebook page, or visit his website at forgottenalabama.com. And congratulations, Crawford on the lovely work your community has done.
Marian Carcache welcomes
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