e mërkurë, 13 qershor 2007

Crispy Chick, the graveyard, and Amos

10:04 am I’m at the laundromat on Main Street. I thought I’d park myself here and see if I could talk to some people who come in and out. There’s one man in here right now, sitting right across from me. I guess he works here, but I’m not sure if he’s the talking type. But he’s humming some, so that’s nice.

Tim and I went to Crispy Chick this morning. Supposedly the best biscuits in town, and a gathering place for all types before work. Well they were out of biscuits at 6:35 this morning, but Tim got some coffee and we thought we’d sit and put some time in anyhow. The place has room for 20, and there were about 6 people in there besides the workers. Three white people sat together at one table communing with a pair of men at another table. One black man sat alone several tables off.

After about three minutes, one of the white men asked us where we were from. We said California, and he asked us if we were with Pam and did we know her when we were in California. We said no, we knew her here, but we were doing work separate from hers, and then we asked where they were from. One, Mr. Robert Latham, is from here, but he spent three years based in California (San Diego, 1968-1971) during his service in the war. We asked him how he liked it. “Well it sure was nice to get back there after serving overseas.”

The other man didn’t talk much. He looked straight ahead, not at us, and told us he was a 6th generation Greensboroan. Mr. Latham told us after he left that he worked at the prison here, running the program that works the inmates at the fishery. Willie Jean from the paper was there, we said hi to her, and then headed out.

I walked for about an hour after that. Not having grown up around a major land feature like the ocean or mountains, trees and all things growing have always been what stick to me, what separates one place from the next. The landscape here is gorgeous. Everything is green and overgrown. There’s plenty of grass in the yards and it looks like some people are pretty serious gardeners. I saw hydrangeas, gardenia bushes (you smell them before you spot them), kudzu, Japanese maple trees, and many more flowers I don’t know the names of. The light filters through all of that and throws the most intricate shadows on everything.

I walked through a cemetery and learned some of the family names from here. Seems like nobody’s been buried there too recently. The latest date I saw was 1989. I didn’t see any fresh flowers on any grave sites, but fake flower arrangements adorned a few of them.

Yesterday at Amos Kennedy’s was incredible. He’s a black printer with a Heidelberg windmill letterpress and drawers and drawers of type. His shop is downstairs—the press, the type, a million prints and books—and his bed and kitchen are upstairs. He wore overalls and no shoes, and in the time we were there, he set something for each of us and ran about 100 of each print. He let us take some of his work and we bought a bunch more. Amazing. He’s leaving on Saturday to go to Italy for a few months, and in December, he’ll be in residence at a small college in Virginia for a year. He’s been playing with type since he was four or five, studied math at Grambling, worked in computer programming for 20 years, and then came back to printing. It’s too much fun, he said. After a couple hours, we thanked him and headed out. “Thanks for spending time in the Black Belt,” he said.

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