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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Larry Tyler

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.

Joel Elveson

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.

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