South

It’s not ghetto, nor ever considered a place no one wished to live, and dusty from the clay road against which it sits, this sun-scorched, weathered, dark gray, loblolly shack, placed by God on tobacco row.

It’s porch as long as the winter rains and as wide as need be to accommodate a rocker, maybe two.

Pasteboard tacked along inside walls protected, and a wood stove kept croppers warm in years when ambitions fell short and grits saved families from starvation.  A thousand times I’d passed those torn and tattered structures, scattered along cotton fields and two-lane Carolina highways.

Smells of sweet Confederate jasmine, with huge magnolia trees and kudzu-covered oaks, planted a century before by plantation owners, scented, clothed and graced the landscape which sank from turn to turn into gator-filled, black water cypress swamps.

A sometimes-magical place teeming with life and the chant of frogs, crickets and the ever-present cicada sang lullabies to a rising yellow moon as it was lifted by Gods hand slowly, oh so slowly through the hot and humid austral night and then gently cradled, atop the lives of those who lived within its reach.

A small child sitting in the back seat of my father’s big burgundy Buick I watched….. Click, click, click, I would tap my finger on the car window, mile after mile as we passed one phone pole, and then another. The faint smell of sulfur, a match I would guess, then the aroma of burning tobacco would sweep past my window, my father taking another drag on his cigarette and the worn gray houses, dark in the setting sun, passed quickly by as we moved on.

It never was a place I felt I belonged or a place that belonged to me, but as time passed and years drifted I began to see that what I thought wasn’t me is not something confined in an instant, a moment, or an ambition to succeed, but is a unique fabric stitched deep within the memories of one’s heart and the genetic ancestry passed from one generation to the generation yet to come.

This is a start and maybe tomorrow will bring more to this weary mind that struggles to hold the sweetness so few today will understand in a life that blossomed….South

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Johnny Johnstonhttp://www.blufengr-art.com/
An artist/writer as well as graduate of the University of South Carolina with degrees in journalism/20th Century American Literature, and retired senior executive of several international hotel/resort corporations, Johnny is the product of the south having been raised in the ever-changing transient lifestyle of a Carolina coastal resort. A point where he discovered, within his 300-year-old heritage and the world's dramatic social/cultural shifts during the late '60s to early 80’s an ambitious hunger and overwhelming curiosity to touch, see and become a participant in the virtually unlimited possibilities offered to those who wish for and seek life experiences. A journey which when hearing its details initially makes one a bit skeptical, questioning its validity as it is hard to imagine that incidents such as these may have crossed one man’s lifetime. This is the fodder required to step into zones exposing one's personal inner self, which many of his paintings and the words he writes do, openly. An ability to see and hear the tragic, beautiful, accomplished, exciting journey in a life free of inhibitions allowing others the opportunity to live vicariously and become, through his works, a part of its future. His larger works which have been featured in several Colorado and Fredericksburg Texas galleries and resorts have produced a number of collectors and fans. However, over the years, his paintings are mostly viewed by friends, enthusiastic new artist encountered on the streets or a small number of acquaintances he meets when dining in local cafés with his wife.

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  1. I know not of where you write yet you took me there. You wrote so descriptively that I could see that tree not to mention the various smells you describe. Forgive me for being greedy but I would love for you to publish your work more often. I really love your writing style.

    • Thank you Joel, I always love your comments. BC360 holds writings in a queue as they have others whose works should be published as well. Dennis has more of my writings that I’ve submitted and when he determines that they should be released they will appear. This is a great site but I wish people would post more as you and some others like Larry do and offer critiques, opinions, comments, etc. I’ve got tough skin when it comes to criticism and am looking for ways to be more creative as well as improve my style. Keep writing Brother. J

      • Johnny,
        I am glad to read you like my comments. There have been articles from a few non-regular writers that I commented on strongly as they had no basis in fact or reality. Some of the stuff about leaders is overkill although as more writers like yourself join they are thankfully lessening. For somebody like you if I saw something that I disagreed with what that you wrote I would just mention my opinion (my opinion is by no means the one that is right while the other is wrong) but I could not and would not criticize you. Those that use Hitler as a shining example of a leader or talk about just simply forgetting things that happened in the past draw my ire. Other than that if I don’t like something I say nothing. I have disagreed with (not criticized) Sandy Chernoff and Bharat Mathur both of whom are super people but just as with yourself and Larry, I do not feel it is right to criticize friends. I reserve my harshest criticisms for my own articles as I feel they are consistently bad.

        • Lol, I guess you’re not reading them! Don’t be so hard on yourself and take a deep breath. Do you think Dennis would publish your work if he didn’t believe in you? Cheer up my friend and KEEP WRITING!

          • I have always been my own toughest critic. The truth of the matter is that I once I e-mail the article to Dennis after I have proofread it I will glance through it when it is published. Weeks later I will read it. Thank you for your encouragement.

            • My dear friend Joel We that write from a deeper well are bonded by our acknowledged journeys. We are pilgrims that travel the road and bravely share our stories. In each story that you, Johnny, Bharat, Raissa, Sandy, Yvonne and many more write we bare our souls trusting in the amazing friendship that we all share. Believing that we are all truly friends gives us both courage and inspiration. To you all we walk among friends.

              • Larry,
                Thank you for your message. I agree with all of your sentiments. My only point of contention is that I reserve the right to harshly criticize any article I write. Going way back to my career in the mortgage business at the end of the day I would rerun in my mind whatever presentations I had done that day. In a vast number of cases, I found serious flaws with different aspects of my performance. This practice continued into my days as a recruiter. My parents never demanded or expected perfection from me but I try to set even higher expectations of myself which includes when I was raising my son. Sales in one form or another have been a part of me for a good portion of my adult life. Sales are about “hitting the numbers” or “exceeding quotas.” Based on the above I hope you can see why I don’t see the things in my articles that others do or why I am so hard on myself.

                • Joel, I just read your note to Larry and wanted to say that being hard on oneself is an attribute and not a failure for with perfection we have no wisdom or scars to build our character upon and truly no stake in the ground when it comes to our small successes in life. J

                  • Johnny,
                    Thank you for being in touch with me. I actually owe you an apology for not commenting on the tremendous works that your articles are. I don’t know that my being hard on myself is an attribute but more of a reflection of not giving value to what I write. Recently, I went through my old articles and aside from finding a good number of them that were incredibly bad I found plenty of others that had the same theme and even worse some had the same exact words from other articles. I have no worries about perfection since I am nowhere near that. Please keep writing as your gift with words belongs in the public eye.

  2. You took me on a journey on a very familiar road. I love the south and treasure all the dirt roads I have walked down and I thank you for allowing me to take a walk with you my friend by read your amazing story.

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