With the temperature approaching the mid 90s, I’m reminded of childhood days spent in Locust Grove, GA. Getting off an air conditioned train the heat hit like a backhand slap. The Griers and the Watkins, my father’s and mother’s relatives, lived in and around “The Grove.” I mostly stayed with my father’s side–Uncle Jack, Aunt Zelma, and cousin Wymond. Their house was situated along a dusty red clay road. There was no air conditioning, no TV, no running water. We drew cold water from a well.
Uncle Jack worked in a factory; he also farmed an acre of cotton. My Aunt Zelma sewed plush animals at her day job and then prepared marvelous dinners from produce she grew and chickens she raised, killed, and plucked. Sunday afternoons brought homemade peach ice cream after hot church services at Shoal Creek Baptist.
Relatives on my mother’s side were of the same resourceful bent. They raised their families under the difficult conditions prevalent in the South of the late 50s. They ran small farms and built their own homes.
I write all of this because after the panel discussion, the final public event of White People: A Retrospective, I was approached by a young lady who asked why I included hicks in the exhibit. She was referring to the photograph that accompanies this post. I never–ever–met a person I considered a “hick.” I met and photographed people who lived under different circumstances than I did. In many cases they were resourceful men and women who did what was required to survive. Hicks, they were not.