Friday, January 7, 2011

Peace be with you

I got a hateful comment today on a little piece of piffle I wrote some time ago.  Generally I'm a pretty feisty person and not averse to mixing it up with bullies.  But it's been such a heart-wearying Fall that all I want is to do is to give and receive peace, kindness, heart's ease.

So to that end let me share with you one of the great bright spots of my life lately.  This summer I found, in my aunt's attic, an old dynamite crate full of slides and negatives that my grandfather took fifty +/- years ago, some in Nicaragua where he was working as an engineer, and some in the US.

Now let me tell you about my Grandfather.  He was a right-wing, racist, homophobic good ol' boy just one sheet short of the KKK.  But he was also my Granddaddy who taught me how to play chess and poker, bought me wonderful trinkets at junk shops, and put plastic flies on our grits to make us laugh.  I might hate some of the things he believed, but I could never hate him.

And for a right-wing racist homophobe he took some stunning pictures full of love, beauty, and humor.  By which I mean to say we are all complex, full of good and bad, and forgetting that makes everyone poorer, makes the whole world a sadder harder place.  So enjoy the pictures and the strange and beautiful conundrum of the man who took them.

Women on the road, Nicaragua 1958

Rodeo levade, Nicaragua 1958

Diver at the water hole, Nicaragua 1958

Diver, Gran Hotel, Nicaragua 1959

Cousin in a mask, North Carolina 1960s

13 comments:

Dr. Monkey Hussein Monkerstein said...

I love those photos and I love you. I'm glad you and your family are out there in the world. You rock.

ayeM8y said...

Well you know I'm from Mississippi...but for the most part my family is very easy going and tolerant.

Love the pictures,

My mother gave me a huge folder of all of my childhood photos for Christmas.

Peace and Love

Willym said...

There must be something in the air - I'm looking a big box of family photos I've had laying around for the past 15 years!!!! And just last night at dinner a group of us where talking about old family photos and their importance in telling us about the people around us. And then this morning - eccola! Your fascinating post.

In a few words you've captured the essence of a man and paid a worthy tribute to him.

As my friend David said - we need more from you. I know its been a hard year and you know that I am wishing you, your Prof and the girls all good things in 2011.

David said...

Welcome back! And, yes, they're first class photos. Homophobe, eh? Hmmmm...I wonder. To judge from the subject matter, Grandaddy maybe did protest too much?

retrogoddess73 said...

What a wonderful find - these photos are amazing!!!

Elizabeth said...

Dr. Monkey - Thanks and back atcha!

aym8y - Some of my family were/are as open-minded and easy going as can be. But my Granddaddy was pretty openly bigoted. After my brother married a Chinese-American woman, my grandfather took me aside and said "Your brother got away from us, but I want to you marry a white man."

Will - Can't wait to see what you find! Yes, this Fall has been pretty rough. But I've thought of and missed you all and will try and be better about staying in touch. xoxo

David - Thanks and I'm hoping this prodigal blogger can be more cyber-active in 2011. And as for those photos of lovely men, well let's just say that you're seeing my tastes in this selection. Oddly, I found I was much less interested in the photos of pretty senoritas.... (blush).

retro goddess - Thanks so much and glad you like them!

YELLOWDOG GRANNY said...

sounds a lot like my grandpa..think it's a generation thing..I love the pictures...the first one especially..

mumbliss said...

How wonderful to hear from you and to see these photos. Love to you all and Happy new Year!
XXXOOO ATWB

The Justified Sinner said...

It is hard to believe that these photographs were taken by someone who was seriously akin to the KKK. I wonder how much of that was peer-induced bluster?

Still, you loved him and he loved you and that is more important than any fundamental differences between you.

laurent said...

Just wonderful to see those photos, please blog some more.

jason said...

So cool! I love love love that one of the cousin in the mask!

Elizabeth said...

Granny - Maybe a generational thing for white men. My grandmother was pretty open minded and accepting.

mumbliss - xoxoxoxo

Sinner - It's hard even for me to see the different sides of him in a unified whole, but he was wildly racist and conservative as well as funny, loving, and curious about the world. As odd as it might sound, a lot of my best qualities come from him.

Laurent - Thanks! I'll post some more of my favorites, and here's a link to my set of them on flickr.

Jason - I love that one too! So weird.

Marie said...

I have so enjoyed the few posts I have read here - you are so talented. I hope all is well, despite the sadness of your mother's illness.

My grandfather was so good to me and I adored him, but I must acknowledge that he too was very bigoted. He was a NYC cop, so he saw the worst of people, but that really is no excuse. He was so conservative he believed FDR was Satan incarnate. He refused to refer to the FDR Drive in New York. He called it the East Side Drive. lol He gave some people some mighty confusing directions considering there is no such road. lol

It is definitely hard to reconcile their hateful rhetoric with the person we love.