Tuesday, June 21, 2011

A Little Bit of Heaven

Two Thoughts for Tuesday

Thought Number One:  When did crossing the Mississippi lose it's thrill?

My childhood was spent living in two distinctly different regions of the U.S. To understand this "two region" existence, you would have to know the background of my family.

My father was born and raised in Arkansas.  The farthest he would have ever been away from home up until his adulthood,  would be the 30 miles or so across the line into southern Missouri. He was part of an enormous extended family made up of 15 aunts and uncles and "god-only-knows" how many cousins he had. Like the rest of his family he thought Arkansas was the most beautiful place on earth.  The problem was in the late 1940's and early 50's  he realized you couldn't make a decent living working in the cotton gins of the south.  There were union jobs to be had in Chicago as the nation was booming in the post World War economy.

My mother's family were all born and raised Chicagoans.  My mother's parents had always lived in the urban areas around Chicago and would have (and did) think that the my dad's people were hicks.  Well, technically, they considered them "hillbillies" which today would not be considered politically correct.

Never the less, my dad moved to Chicago and met my mother, married and had two kids. It was not a marriage that was "made in heaven" as their worlds were just too far apart. 

My father was always an Arkansas son and we drove the 9 hours to Arkansas dozens of times any given year and on a couple of occassions we moved back to live for a period of time. My dad was devoted to his family and called his parents momma and daddy right up until the time he passed away in 1995. My grandfather passed away a few years after that,  but my grandma remains in the state she was born and has lived for all of  her 98 years. There was a time that she would take little trips to see other parts of the world but no more.  She doesn't want to get far from home.

My grandma still believes that Arkansas is really the only state worth being in and she wouldn't want to take a chance being elsewhere in case she would die.  These are her thoughts not mine. I will tell you that you might try to argue the point that there are other lovely areas of the country but as far as arguing with this cute little 98 year old woman, you are sure to lose. 

So anyway back to my point of  my first thought of today's post.... as a little girl I was quite familiar with the route between southern Chicago and northern Arkansas. The highlight of the trip was always crossing the Mississippi bridge at Cairo, Illinois. It didn't matter what time of day or night we came to the bridge, my brother and I would watch with awe as we made our way over that bridge. In those days, in the eyes of a child that was the most magnificent river on the planet. AND that bridge was something to behold.

I have since crossed the Mississippi thousands of times.  We have lived in the Quad Cities, Hannibal, Mo., St. Louis, Mo  and Collinsville, Il. which all sit on or near the banks of the Mississippi. On any given day we would have driven over the river to get to our jobs, to shop, to run errands and it became routine.  No awe, no thrill, just a way to get where we needed to be.  Somewhere between my childhood and my life as a grown up, the excitement of crossing that bridge (or other bridges like it) vanished.

Now on to Thought number Two: The Views of My Childhood in Photographs

Even as a little girl, I realized the vast difference in the topography of the Illinois, Missouri and Arkansas.  I used to bombard my dad with questions like "why is the dirt red instead of black here?" ( while in the south) or "why is there corn in all the fields instead of cotton?" ( while in the north) The answer is always the same.  That is the difference between the Ozarks and every where else.

So a couple of months ago, I started seeing pictures posted over at Really?! Wait! What? of areas that look just like the areas I played as a child.  Areas where the mineral springs bubbled out of the ground and made wonderful swimming holes or little creeks that wound through the yards.  These photographs reflect an area that time has hardly touched  in the 50 years or so since I made those trips so my dad could see his momma and daddy. 

There were other pictures as well that capture the very essence of the Ozarks.  I think Jewell has about 200 or so of the most extraordinary pictures of the area that it has ever been my pleasure to see. I encourage you to jump over to her blog and take a peek.  Even if you don't have a historical need to see the tin roof of a shotgun house, you will surely find some pictures that move you.

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This house is in the Ozark area of Ark.

The Good for the Day....The ability that some people (like Jewell) have to capture pieces of art in the lense of a camera.

The Bad for the Day...losing the wonder and awe that we experienced as children.

The Weird for the Day...As a kid, I thought the little shotgun houses were so cute. I had a great aunt that had a double shotgun house and thought she must be rich.  Today the thought of living in a house with this floor plan gives me the shakes.


AngelBaby said...

A shotgun house, I have never heard of that before. I don't think I would like living in one but it must have fulfilled a need at the time they built them. Sounds like you have a wonderful childhood and got to visit a lot of beautiful places.

Here's your click ............

Love and Blessings,

Bodaciousboomer said...

My GP's lived in Sikeston, MO, my mom was born in Cape Giradeau. I was born in St. Louis.

So I spent a lot of my youth going back to MO for long visits. I absolutely love the Ozarks, especially in the fall.

Jewell said...

It really is kind of a amazing that it's so easy to forget the wonder that we had as children. It's part of the reason why I enjoy taking pictures...it helps me to realize that my child like wonder is still alive and well under the jaded crap that gets piled on during the work week. I'm just glad that you are able to find so much joy in my pictures. Enough that you would want to use them in your post about a part of the area and a section of memories that bring you such joy. =)
((( Cheryl )))

Annie (Lady M) x said...

That was bloody brilliant learning about your family history and the link between Arkansas and Missouri. And I am glad you have found Jewell ... she is a gemster when it comes to amazing photos

So seriously, people living in shotgun houses? Why is that then? x

Nicky said...

Those pictures are gorgeous! Thank you for sharing some of your family history. For me, having a third child when my first two were nearly teens has helped bring back some of the wonder I've lost over the years.

Cheryl P. said...

I think the original intent for the shotgun houses that you could open the front and back doors and the air would flow through. These types of houses are predominately in the south. Really quite popular in New Orleans.
I have been really fortunate to see a lot of beautiful places in both the US and in Europe. The world is quite amazing.

Cheryl P. said...

The longest I ever lived anywhere is St. Louis. We lived there 12 years so our kids could get through middle school, high school and get off to college before we moved to Nebraska. There are a lot of really pretty places in MO. I have a lot of favorites.

Cheryl P. said...

Oh (((Jewell))) you are amazing. Such a talent and funny too. I love that you have child like wonder still. I ocassionally see little snippets of it but mostly the only thing that gets buried under my jaded crap is my cynical, skeptical crap. I love your photos. I recently bought a book that follows the Katy Trail and the photos aren't 1/100 as nice as yours.

Cheryl P. said...

She is a gemster isn't she?

Yes, those shotgun houses are all throughout the Deep South. You will see them in every old southern town esp. cities like New Orleans. The one I posted today is in Hot Springs, Arkansas. They are easy to build and you can open the front and back doors to keep them really cool in the heat of the south.

Cheryl P. said...

I bet that would do it. I am finding a bit of that with having my first grandchildren. While the oldest is 3, he is getting fun to interact with. He is quite the conversationalist. Why??? is one of his very favorite words.

Is your youngest very young? I think having kids around keeps people feeling younger.

Sandra Charron said...

I loved hearing about your childhood. I think your lucky to be so familiar with two very different areas. As a military brat, I feel "at home" in so many different areas of this country. Beautiful pictures too Cheryl!

Wolfbernz said...

Hi Cheryl,

Thanks for sharing about your childhood. It's pretty awesome that Grandma is 98 and still around to enjoy her favorite state :)

I enjoyed our post,
Clicks for you!

Trina said...

As usual, I loved your post! I love the family history... are they really Chicagoans? Not like Chicago-ites LOL

Great pictures, I'm on my way to check out her blog now!

Iluvbeingagrandpa said...

I remember a trip to Arkansas from Hannibal MO with my father in law, wife and two little babies....did you know that there were NO BATHROOMS anywhere between Hannibal and Arkansas??...., not one, nada, nitt.....and no where to get a drink or food either...oh wait, yes there was...

but the driver was sure not going to stop...needed to get there on time. Neat man, neat grandpa of the two little ones...just determined to get there is one swoop. Fun memories. Healthy bladder.

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Sandra, Later in life I took tons of moves also. You and I would have fun comparing notes. I think I counted 37 moves at last count. It's nice to have some familiarity with a lot of places. Thanks for stopping by. I sure enjoy getting comments from different perspectives.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, my grandma has gotten quite feisty in the last couple of years, but she hasn't waivered on her love for Arkansas.

Thanks for stopping by.

Cheryl P. said...

Hi Trina, I think most Chicagoans would answer to Chicagoites also. They might look at you funny though, heh heh. By the way, I have been meaning to ask you about you 100 things on your blog. I really like your list. Are you going to add to it at some point. After I read yours I tried to think of a list. That is WAY harder than it looks.

Cheryl P. said...

Yes, that is entirely true. My dad's motto of peeing is for sissies kept him setting the land speed record holder for driving from anywhere in America to Arkansas in record time. I think our kids would agree that fact they have super human control over their bladders is in large part because they had my dad as their grandfather.

jayne said...

Funny how we lose that wonder and awe, huh? It's kind of a bummer to go back to places you thought were magnificent as a child, to find they're not so lovely any longer. I've never spent much time in your family's part of the world ('cept Chicago--I LOVE Chicago), but it seems enchanting. :)

Mike said...

So guests would have to walk through the bedroom to get to the kitchen. Or if the dining room was in the livingroom, you'd have to carry meals through the bedroom. Makes me shudder too.

I crossed the Mississippi in 1993 during the floods. That was some high water!

Don E. Chute said...

I have crossed your bridge a time or two and she is a beayute! I was born and raised just outside of the SF Bay [SF/Oakland]. To say that I have been on the Golden Gate and The Bay Bridge a lot, would still leave a lot to count.

They do leave some of their luster when your stuck on them, or looking at them while commuting to and from work. That is a shame.

I haven't been there in some 8 years, and it would be nice to take a ride across them both...memories...

Aloha From Dry Sunny South Florida!

Cheryl P. said...

The Ozarks are enchanting. I try to get there every once in a while just to take in the beauty. Chicago is a fun place to visit.

You are right though, often when we revisit an area from our past, it isn't anything like we remembered.

Cheryl P. said...

Your are so right. That is the most unlivable floor plan and yet Shotgun houses are every where in the South. New Orleans used to have a gazillion of them although many were lost in Catrina.

I stilled lived in St. Louis in 93. It was such a mess. Even the smell of the air was rank. Flood stages here in KC are about 7-9 foot less than the 93 levels but the water is still rising. I don't expect we are going to have the problems that St. Louis had. The levees seem to be holding.

Cheryl P. said...

As bridges go it would be hard to top the Golden Gate and the Bay Bridge. I spent some time last year hangin around San Fran. My husband has a consulting firm that had a client there and hubby had an apartment to use for 8 weeks. That is a fun place to hang out in.

oldereyes said...

As you might expect, I've thought a lot about how we lose our sense of wonder as we grow up. Sometimes, I it's just that we're too busy but other times, it's a sense of scale. When we're small, we're closer to the ground where a lot of the good stuff happens (bugs and flowers and rocks, oh my). When we're little, things seem grander. A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to roam the woods behind my parents house where I grew up. There was a cliff we used to climb ... in my mind, it was like the North Face ... but in my fifties, it was not much higher than I was tall. Indian Cave was a pile of rocks. And once we've seen bigger rivers or the Pacific Ocean ... and bigger bridges ... the old ones pale. I do like bridges, though, all sizes, the Golden Gate being my favorite.

Maybe this is obvious ... why is it a "shotgun house?"


Cheryl P. said...

You're right about how our perspective changes. I go back and see houses that I lived in as an adult and they look different than I remember.

Shotgun houses are called that supposedly because you can shoot a shotgun into the front door and the bullet will exit the back door. Straight shot.

Shotgun houses actually have a lot of history in the south.