Saturday, May 21, 2005

"Backroads" revisited

Mary Baker's headstone in Pleasant Hill MS. Born July 24th, 1797, Died September 6th, 1879.

Schoolteacher Ed Sharpe once told me of an abandoned cemetery located deep within the woods of Mississippi. He said it had been left unattended for two century's with head stones dating all the way back to the late 1700's. Sounded like folklore to me when I called his bluff. "It's true" he said. "But you can't get there by car whereas you must hike thru acres of cow pastures and cross over barbed wire fences in search of the site." For an old Boy Scout like me, it sounded like a adventurous daytrip. So I loaded my Yoshika with 400 speed film, packed-up lunch of cheese and crackers, a Ya-Hoo and Moonpie and set out in search of this historic grave yard.

Once on the right path, I eagerly plotted through chirping crickets while swatting grass hoppers away from my face. But the one thing that Schoolmaster Sharpe failed to inform me about was the thick beds of poison ivy. My mistake, never go back-hiking in shorts without socks. When I arrived at the grave sites I was truly amazed at what I found. There it was - just as described and in mint condition. Dozens of head stones dating all the way back from The Revolutionary War period. No one would believe me unless I photographed the evidence. Now captured on film was a secret hidden for decades. What an awesome discovery. I couldn't wait to tell all and show photographs. Weeks later, I returned with curious friends to reveal my findings only to find out that vandals had visited the cemetery. Believe it or not, all head stones had been smashed into small pieces and shattered beyond recognition. Why would anyone do this? A meaningless crime and for what reason? For weeks I remained shocked and saddended by those events. Only until recently did I re-discover the photographs from that site.

In my photograph series titled "The Backroads of Mississippi", (Current posting and Archives 2005-04-10) viewers can revisit a period of culture far removed. Future postings will feature photographs and storylines of varying subject matter. It is my intent to display these photographs for historic and archive purposes combined with the novelty of entertainment. This site is fueled by feedback and I encourage viewers to leave their thoughts in the comment section.


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