Search This Blog

Loading...

28 March 2015

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings in Cross Creek, Hawthorne, Florida

'FRIENDS OF LIBRARIES U.S.A.
LITERARY LANDMARKS REGISTER
 
CROSS CREEK
 
Beloved home of
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
 
FROM 1928 TO 1953
 
Designated by the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Society and the Florida Center for the Book
on the occasion of her 100th birthday.'
 
Marjorie Kinnan (1896 –1953) was born in Washington D. C., graduated from the University of Wisconsin in English in 1918, married Charles Rawlings the following year, and moved to this 72-acre property in Cross Creek near Hawthorne in 1928. This is now the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park, where virtually all of the furniture in her house is authentic.
 
 
At the entrance to the park are two photos of MKR in Cross Creek.
 
'"IT IS NECESSARY TO LEAVE THE IMPERSONAL HIGHWAY, TO STEP INSIDE THE RUSTY GATE AND CLOSE IT BEHIND. ONE IS NOW INSIDE THE ORANGE GROVE, OUT OF ONE WORLD AND IN THE MYSTERIOUS HEART OF ANOTHER. AND AFTER LONG YEARS OF SPIRITUAL HOMELESSNESS, OF NOSTALGIA, HERE IS THAT MYSTIC LOVELINESS OF CHILDHOOD AGAIN. HERE IS HOME."
 
MARJORIE KINNAN RAWLINGS
CROSS CREEK, 1942'
 
In the property is a citrus grove, of which this is one of the orange trees.
 
Spanish moss dangles all over.
 
A replica of the original barn on the same site.
 
 
And a replica tenant house.
 
One of the chicken pens.
 
And a duck pen enclosing a small pond.
 
I've no idea what the bell has to do with the wood-cutting area (if is at all related).
 
The pump house.
 
The garden at the back of the house.
 
 
And at the side of the house is a replica of Rawling's Oldsmobile. She didn't learn to drive until she was in her early thirties, and was notoriously bad: she had several prangs, but was unhurt.
 
 
 
The house itself was in Rawling's name, which was financially convenient for her when she and Charles divorced in 1933, the year she published her first novel South Moon Under. This was originally three properties, but only one when they came here.
 
 
This is where she wrote her books, such as The Yearling and Cross Creek, and the typewriter belonged to her.
 
The bed where MKR rested from her work (right next to her car).
 
The living room, and in the center of the photo the cupboard which was the hideaway where she stashed her moonshine.
 
Opposite the liquor hold, shelves of books.
 
A posthumous bust of MKR by Lee Burnham.
 
The bed in the guestroom.
 
MKR's own bedroom – complete with original quilt – which she later shared with her second husband Norton Baskin.
 
The bathroom next to the bedroom.
 
The table in the dining room is not the original.
 
Finally, the outhouse, which directly faced the dining room. Our guide said that MKR always sat in the dining room chair directly opposite when entertaining guests so as to avoid them staring straight at it. I've unaware of the truth of this tale, although I can't imagine her ever choosing to be concerned about Wallace Steven's sensibilities, although that's a very different story.
 
The park claims that this is 'the real Florida', and yes, I can't help thinking that this is light years away from the unfortunate tackiness of parts of Key West, or the beach areas of Florida. Very agreeable.

26 March 2015

Zora Neale Hurston in Fort Pierce, Florida

The Zora Neale Hurston Branch Library in Fort Pierce, which has a large collection of audio-visual resources on Hurston. At the time of writing, it is only open three days a week.

The Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail takes in eight locations, although for a number of reasons I only visited the first four, but these include by far the most important: the house in which she lived for a short time, and her grave. The places I didn't see are the Fort Pierce Chronicle headquarters, where editor C. E. Bolen persuaded Hurston to come and write a column for his paper; Means Court School, the first public school (in the American sense) in Fort Pierce for African American kids; Peek Funeral Chapel, where memorial services were given for Hurston on 28 January 1960; and Backus Studio, where Friday evenings she listened to jam sessions at painter A. E. 'Bean' Backus's studio.

The Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, along with other groups, has given a large number of Hurston-related works to the library.

Lincoln Park Academy, Avenue I.

Hurston briefly taught English here in 1958. At the time, it was segregated.  

Hurston's home on Avenue L.

The home was owned by the physician Dr. Clem C. Benton, a friend of the family who allowed Hurston to live rent-free for nearly two years from early 1958 to late 1959, when she was close to her death January 1960. The house has been slightly moved from its original location.

'ZORA NEALE HURSTON
MEMORIAL MONUMENT
 
TERRACOTTA & CONCRETE
 
JIM LICCIONE'
 
This was a bonus for me because I was unaware of the existence of Liccione's memorial  – which stands right at the entrance to the Garden of Heavenly Rest Cemetery at 17th Street and Avenue S – before my visit. It is very impressive.
 


 
 

'ZORA NEALE HURSTON
A GENIUS OF THE SOUTH
1901 –––1960
NOVELIST FOLKLORIST
ANTHROPOLOGIST'

This was originally a segregated cemetery, and Zora Neale Hurston was buried in an unmarked grave. Alice Walker, trying to retrace Hurston's tracks, 'discovered' it in the early 1970s.

Seward Johnson in Key West, Florida

I first came across an example of the sculptor Seward Johnson's work last year in White Plains, New York State, which was First Case. This one is at the entrance to Casa Marina.

'TAKING A BREAK
BY J. SEWARD JOHNSON, JR.
SITED SCULPTURE PLACEMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C.

B. P. Roberts, Key West Cemetery, Florida

This is one of the most interesting graves in Key West Cemetery.
 
'I TOLD YOU I WAS SICK
B. P. ROBERTS
MAY 17. 1929
JUNE 18. 1979'
 
The Key West Cemetery 'Self-Guided Tour' leaflet describes Roberts as a 'local hypochondriac', although to go at fifty is pretty early. This huge structure was very easy to find, and yet in spite of the indications in the leaflet, after much searching we had to give up on finding the poet Juana Borrero and 'Sloppy' Joe Russell too.

Key West and Tourism

Sometimes you can't avoid tourism, I think in Florida in particular. It's obviously interesting that this huge object represents the southernmost point in the States, being only ninety miles from Cuba. We aren't used to tourism and do our best to avoid it, and we were amazed by the long line of people from different nations queuing to have their photos taken next to this marker. We didn't bother because we aren't that kind of people, and anyway in between the posing everyone had an opportunity to take a shot of it without anyone leaning on it and smiling inanely.

The Southernmost Point is at the end of Whitehead Street, while at the other end on nearby Duval Street is Sloppy Joe's Bar. Although 'Sloppy' Joe Russell was Hemingway's fishing guide and friend, I didn't include this image with my post on Papa's house because it seemed a bit tacky to do so. We walked straight in and straight out of this place: at about four in the afternoon it was crammed with drinkers and unbelievably noisy. I think it's somewhere tourists go to say they've been there, and they may well also buy a tee-shirt or a cap or something else associated with Hemingway in the attached gift shop. A few of these tourists may even have read one of the man's books. Or maybe not.