Friday, October 17, 2008

Way down 'pon da Swanee Ribber

I had lived here for several years before it finally registered that the Swanee Ribber in Old Folks at Home was the Suwannee River. What can I say, I had only ever seen Suwannee on a map & I did not know it was pronounced Swanee.

This weekend is the weekend of the annual quilt show at the Stephen Foster State Park & as this posts, I hope to be on my way. I am told, in the way of all things Southern, that it is not nearly the show it used to be; Faulkner was not kidding when he said the past is not dead it is not even past. I don't care that they never managed to secede, the American South is another country

Whatever: as the quilt show exists today, it is one of my favorites. There is nothing high-falutin' about it. They take anything & they get everything & it is all hung together in the buildings that house Stephen Fosters piano collection (yes, you read that right) & the oh-so-vintage diaramas of his songs (really, they are a favorite thing of mine).

A funny thing about the park & the pianos & the (current) Florida State song, Stephen Foster never spent any time here. I am always fascinated by the 'historical' or 'cultural' sites that are manufactured (have you ever been to Plymouth Rock? It is a rock. It is probably not even the right rock, for those of you who remain convinced there was a rock at all).

It is not as though there is not plenty of true history here that is interesting. I realize that it would be hard to build a major tourist attraction out of Rosewood, which I did not know it was just a few towns over until I was drove through on the way to Cedar Key & then I was happy to be distracted from the brain tumor I almost certainly do not have but I was kind of hoping I did (a diversion for another post). But the Zora Neale Hurston Festival should be getting more attention than those old pianos.

I suppose what we venerate says more about who we are at that moment than who anybody was (or was not) that we are building the monuments (or cultural centers) around. & I while am enjoying the quilts at the Stephen Foster Cultural Center, I will always be within a few yards of someone who is enjoying how much better the show used to be more.

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