Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Beneath the Pettus Bridge

Photographs of the Edmund Pettus Bridge are synonymous with Selma, and it is often used for television news backdrops. But here is a picture of the bridge from beneath. It looks kind of quiet, but the traffic overhead is thunderous.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In the Thick of Thistle

To some of us, thistles are just prickly, aggravating weeds meant to be dug up and thrown away.

To bumblebees, they are sustenance.

To the Scots, they are the national emblem and a symbol of high honor!
It seems that thistles once drove the barefoot Norsemen away from their invasion of Scottish shores.

Whatever, the flower of the thistle is really pretty up close!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Tintype Photography

Bruce Schultz of Tintype Photography in Lafayette, La., dries a photograph over a candle flame during his living-history display of 19th Century photography. He also took period photographs with an antique Eastman Kodak camera at last weekend's Battle of Selma. The former newspaper reporter and photographer is employed by the LSU AgCommunications Department, but he steps back in time to use the wet-plate collodion method for Civil War reenactments and other events.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Battlefield Balladeers

View the Battlefield Balladeers Selma Living History VIDEO HERE.

Singing songs of the Civil War era,
The Battlefield Balladeers bring their musical talents to the Battle of Selma Living History tours each year. Using a guitar, harmonica, tambourine and fiddle, they soon have the school children clapping right along with the melodies of Stephen Foster, Daniel Emmett and others.

This year, they sang "When Johnny Comes Marching Home," "Goober Peas" and "Old Dan Tucker." Often, the songs are introduced with humorous or historic quotes from Mark Twain, Abraham Lincoln, Robert E. Lee, Frederick Douglass and Mary Chestnut.

The Battlefield Balladeers are headquartered in Illinois and perform for Civil War reenactments, historic societies, libraries, museums and festivals. They have entertained at the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield, Ill., and the Chicago Historical Society.

The musicians belong to several historic preservation organizations including The 10th Illinois Vol. Infantry Reenactment Unit. Playing the fiddle at left is Andy Borg, and playing the guitar and harmonica at right is David Corbett.

The Balladeers were featured on ABC TV at a Presidents' Day celebration at the Chicago History Museum. To view the video, click HERE.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Skywatch Friday (Battle Skies)

It's Skywatch Friday, and Southern belles anxiously watch the action as skies above the battlefield fill with smoke. The Battle of Selma reenactment was held last weekend and gave attendees an authentic demonstration of American Civil War battle tactics, fashion and lifestyle. The reenactment is held at Riverside Park where many soldiers in the actual 1865 battle fled or even swam across the Alabama River to escape.

To see more Skywatch Friday photos or to participate, click HERE.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Terrace View

Ahh, what a beautiful day to relax on the terrace of the St. James Hotel, sip some sweet iced tea and watch the Alabama River roll its way further South!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Spinning Yarn

Assume that you live in the 19th Century and are spending your day spinning yarn.

You have already washed the loose wool several times and carded and combed it. You spin the wool into yarn from daylight until dusk and neglect your usual activities such as cooking meals, tending children, working the garden, milking the cow, chopping wood and hauling water.

How many days would it take to spin enough yarn to make one pair of men's socks?

(The answer is approximately three days...more info in the comments section.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Gees Bend Quilts in Selma

Presidential candidate and SenatorJohn McCain traveled first by plane, then by bus and finally by ferry to see the Quilts of Gees Bend down in Wilcox County. But, I photographed this original at The Frame Shoppe on Selma's Historic Water Avenue.

The store, which is located right across from the St. James Hotel and Bridge Tender's House, not only frames your artwork but features regional arts and crafts for show and sale, including the renowned Gees Bend quilts.

The quilts are handmade by women of the rural, isolated community who generations ago developed geometric, folk-art patterns that they learned from their mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers. The quilts eventually were discovered by folks from outside the Black Belt and have been shown and marketed worldwide.

To watch McCain's My Space video of his Gee's Bend trip, click HERE.

Monday, April 21, 2008

John McCain's "Time for Action" Tour

U.S. Sen. John McCain, left, the apparent Republican presidential nominee; is introduced by Alabama Gov. Bob Riley, right, just before kicking off a tour through the predominantly Democratic Black Belt region. McCain began his "Time for Action" tour in Selma on the banks of the Alabama River. The Edmund Pettus Bridge in the background.

Following his Selma speech, McCain's "Straight Talk Express" headed to Wilcox County where the candidate planned to visit the Quilters of Gees Bend and take a ride on the Gees Bend Ferry. Later, he was to head for Thomasville, then Birmingham.

With McCain's visit, all three major presidential contenders have given speeches in Selma during the past 13 months. I believe that is a record!

The senator dined at The Downtowner Restaurant Sunday evening and stayed at the St. James Hotel Sunday night.


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Battle of Selma Reenactment

The 21st annual reenactment of the Battle of Selma was held today in Riverside Park. The actual battle was fought April 2, 1865, and was one of the last battles of the U.S. War Between the States. After the battle, reenactors joined forces and fired a gun salute to remember America's fallen soldiers.

The Battle of Selma isn't going well for Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest (on white horse). First, a courier was captured and tactical plans stolen. Then Union Gen. J.H. Wilson got the layout of Selma's fortifications. Forrest was wounded by a Yankee saber but shot the soldier. He arrives in Selma not long before Wilson's cavalry to a group of mostly older men and young boys manning the breastworks. Amazingly, few Confederates died in the battle, but much of the town was burned.

To view the 2008 BATTLE OF SELMA SLIDESHOW, click HERE.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Southern Belle's Tatting Society

These ladies from the Southern Belle's Tatting Society of Columbia, Tenn., demonstrate the fine art of tatting during the Battle of Selma Living History Tour. The tours are planned especially for school students.

Tatting goes back a couple thousand years ago when fishermen used the technique to strengthen their nets. Smaller thread and shuttles resulted in the creation of lace for doilies and edgings that were sewn onto handkerchief, collars and pillowcases.

Today's battle events include tours of Confederate, Union and civilian camps, troop drills, a demonstration of Civil War tactics against fixed fortifications and the Battle of Selma Grand Military Ball at Sturdivant Hall.

Gates open at 9 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Skywatch Friday - Clouds 'n Roses

It's Skywatch Friday! Check out lots of other overhead scenes at Wigger's World.

Cotton clouds 'n yellow roses were a treat for my camera to shoot last week. The roses are
Lady Banksias, and the Greek Revival architecture is the back view of the antebellum Henderson House. The clouds are cumulus.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Battle of Selma Blacksmith

Back in the 1860s, tools were molded and pounded on an anvil by a blacksmith. This "smithy" is showing school children how to make a nail at last year's Battle of Selma Living History Tour. Students from across Alabama annually attend the two-day event, which also features cannon firing demonstrations, 1860's music and sing-a-longs, a tour of Confederate headquarters, a medical tent and flag histories.

To see more photos and the schedule of events, click here.

Update: Abraham Lincoln of the Brookville Daily Photo mentioned this smithy handling these tools with his bare hands. He (Mr. Mott) was on the tour again this year and said he either holds his fingers far enough back from the heated metal or uses tongs.
He also insists he has never combined his blacksmith work with that of a farrier, and apprentices were required to make 450 nails a day. Unlike the industrial North, Mr. Mott said the rural South did not always have barrels of nails although machinery could make them. Village blacksmiths made nails by hand even as late as the 1860s.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Butterfly Capital

April 16 is Save the Butterfly Day, and Selma is the Butterfly Capital of Alabama. This sign in the Mallieve Breeding Butterfly Garden at the School of Discovery depicts the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Selma's official mascot. The butterfly also occupies a prominent position upon our city seal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tax Deadline

Got your tax filed yet (U.S. citizens only!)?
Since April 15 is the deadline (in most cases) for filing the previous year's return, I thought today might be a good time to post a photo of the Selma Post Office. Business is likely a bit brisk there, although many people now file online. You've got until midnight to get it mailed.

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Holding the Energy"

What can you do with rusty old shovels and chains and grill racks and...?

Charlie Lucas (The Tin Man) made a work of folk art called "Holding the Energy." Here it's on display at a recent Arts Revive show downtown. The Tin Man's work as a "scrap metal recycler" has gained him international fame. His art has been exhibited in France, New York City and New Orleans. He's taught art classes at Yale, and his story and works have appeared in more than 40 books.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Henderson House

The Spring greens can't be topped for bringing out the beauty
of Selma's antebellum homes!

Henderson House is yet another structure that was occupied by Union troops after the Battle of Selma when the 1853 Greek Revival home became a temporary hospital for the wounded.

Originally named "Fairoaks," it was built by a nephew of U.S. Vice President William Rufus King. According to the historic marker:
"In 1980, the house was in a poor state of repair and was acquired by the City of Selma as part of a downtown stabilization program. The Alabama Historical Commission provided U.S. Department of the Interior funds which assisted with the city's purchase and the later restoration. Circle "S" Industries, Inc., purchased the property in April, 1981, and restored the house and its original dependencies. On March 12, 1982, the mansion was officially dedicated in honor of Ethel Henderson Striplin, a long-time Selma resident.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Horsehead Fountain

The horsehead fountain outside the St. James Hotel lends charm to its entrance and makes a great focal point for photographs, especially with colorful flowers in the background. The riverfront hotel was renovated this past year, and back in the 1800s, it thrived with river and rail traffic.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cirrus in the Sky (Skywatch Friday)

High, wispy cirrus clouds seem to fly across the sky last Sunday at Marion Junction, a community west of Selma.

Often called mares' tails, the resemblance is achieved from patterns of ice crystals high in the atmosphere.

After a stormy Friday and rainy Saturday, this sky was more than welcome!

Visit other Skywatch Friday photos at this Skywatch link.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

In the Neighborhood

What could be a better combination than sunshine
sidewalks, spring blossoms, picket fences, dogs and a child?

This young Selma visitor enjoyed the morning playing with a pair
of rambunctious golden retrievers in Fairoaks Square.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt in Town

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are."
...Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919)

Today, Teddy Roosevelt was in town, the late U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in living history!

I was out photographing historic Fairoaks Square when our 26th president just walked right up on the sidewalk and introduced himself. But, instead of carrying a big stick like his famous quote says, he carried a teddy bear! The popular stuffed animal was created and named for Roosevelt after he refused to shoot a bear in an unsportsmanlike hunt down in Mississippi. Anyhow, Teddy Roosevelt has returned to life in the one-man show of Joe Wiegand. He uses his love of history, politics and government to weave an entertaining presentation about Roosevelt's adventures...from rancher to Rough Rider to U.S. president. He tells about his love of hunting from the U.S. South to Africa to the Amazon and why he established the national parks. To those who ask, he "explains without apology" his legacy of foreign and domestic policies.

Along with his wife Jenny; daughter, Sam; and golden retriever, Faith; Wiegand is making his "T.R. Tour 2008." They stopped in Selma to visit friends they met back in college at The University of the South in Sewanee, Tenn., where Joe says he took advantage of the school's "affirmative action plan for Yankees!"

Later today, Wiegand was headed to Tuskegee to tell about Roosevelt's meeting with Booker T. Washington, a black educator and scientist who advised the president on education in the South.

He began the tour with "The Teddy Roosevelt Show" in Park Ridge, Ill., and he'll return to Roosevelt's birthplace in New York City in October for the president's 150th Birthday Celebration.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Riverview Arts and Crafts Festival

Just drive through the gate, and follow the red dirt road
to the Riverview Arts and Crafts Festival coming up Saturday, May 3.

Sponsored by the Riverview Neighborhood Association, the first annual festival will be held at Riverside Park on the banks of the Alabama River. There will be live music, food, art, crafts and sing-a-longs from 9 a.m. til 5 p.m.

Booths already include local folks, several from Prattville, one from Fairhope and basket makers.Twenty-five booths are sponsored by Arts Revive, and artist Charlie "Tin Man" Lucas will design the official T-Shirt. The music mix includes country, gospel, school choirs and blues. A clothesline art show will feature designs of a "Dream Riverview Cottage" by fourth graders from all over Selma. So, if you happen to see kids around the neighborhood looking at the houses, they are probably just getting ideas for their projects!

Got an art or craft to sell?
Booth rentals are only $25.
Got a food venue? Rental is just $75.

For more info, call 334-875-4348 or email
Rentals are raised for booths waiting to register on the day of the event.
So you might as well just go ahead and register.
Specify arts, crafts or food, and send your name, address, phone number, types of items and email address (along with a check or money order) to Riverview Neighborhood Association, P.O. Box 1314, Selma, AL. 36702.

The festival is a benefit for the Riverview Neighborhood Association, which aims to improve the area. Home to lots of historic early 1900's houses, Riverview is a cottage community. Some of the homes are built along the river bank close to downtown.
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Monday, April 7, 2008

Dogwood and Spanish Moss

Spring in Selma means dogwood blossoms
that appear to be growing from drapes of Spanish Moss!
Wish you were here!

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Black Widow!

I found this "pretty lady" with the hourglass figure playing dead in my carport this weekend. She started kicking after getting swept into a plastic zipper bag so I could use her for a City Daily Photo post. Here, she is alive on top of the hood of my car (for photo purposes)! Other than eating her mate, these highly poisonous arachnids aren't too aggressive, but when they strike, they deliver their punch with a neurotoxin that can kill, especially if you aren't a healthy adult.
Now, in case you are wondering if my yard or neighborhood is overrun with poisonous critters such as this, that could be...BUT a neighbor said that black widows sometimes like to hide in garden flats, those plastic trays you bring your flowers and veggies home in for planting.
So, I remembered that we had stored a flat of tomato plants in the carport for a few days. On Friday, I moved the flat into the utility room due to brewing bad weather. The spider was right in front of the utility door.
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Saturday, April 5, 2008

In High Clover

Instead of mowing our grass (er, clover),
the moths and butterflies get to enjoy it a bit longer while the rain continues to fall.

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Friday, April 4, 2008


Sun and clouds, sun and clouds, sun and clouds. Coupled with high dew points and a frontal system headed this way, we are having some cloud rotation and tornado warnings. Gotta go and turn off this computer now!
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Blue Sky and Dogwood

Dogwood blossoms are peaking, and here's a blue-sky opportunity to show them off!
We are having cloudy and sometimes rainy weather this week, so I hope to get more photos before the spring beauty is gone.
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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

April 2, 1865

On April 2, 1865, Union Gen. Ulysses Grant finally made it to the Confederate capital of Richmond, Va., and Gen. J.H. Wilson's cavalry made it to Selma, Ala., where one of the South's biggest and best arsenals was destroyed. It was a Sunday. Spring had arrived. Lady Banksia roses were blooming. But, the beautiful day soon turned to gunshots and smoke. Outnumbered by thousands and outgunned by the Yankees' Spencer repeating rifles, one of the last battles of America's War Between the States was short, and much of Selma burned.

According to Walter M. Jackson in The Story of Selma: "Selma lay in ashes; Selma lay at the feet of her conqueror; many of her finest sons lay from Vicksburg to Gettysburg; Selma stood at the tragic decade of American history; but the spirit of Selma was not dead. Regardless of all of these things, Selma would live again, because the spirit of her people was alive and would live on and on."

The photo was taken at a recent reenactment of the Battle of Selma.

This year's reenactment will be the weekend of April 18.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Theme Day: Water

Welcome to April Theme Day: Water!
The pond up the road summons me for an annual photo every end of March. These Yoshino Cherry trees have a luster like snow, and the fowl along the banks bask in the sun along with the greening of the grass. (Click for a larger picture.)

Please visit all the other great Theme Day participants from City Daily Photo Blogs.
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