Saturday, November 21, 2015

Fluctuat nec mergitur, solidarity for Paris, and the Statue of Liberty

This is a continuation of my post of several days ago - The tears of Marianne, about the horrendous terrorist attacks in Paris.  But first, I'd like to pay tribute to all the victims of the latest mass violence - the 224 Russian tourists victims of the bombing on the Metrojet flight over Sinai, Egypt, on 31 October, 2015 - the 43 victims of the bombings in Beirut, Lebanon, on 12 November, 2015, the 130 victims of the Paris attacks on 13 November, 2015, and yesterday, November 20, 2015, the 19 victims of the attacks in the Radisson Hotel of Bamako, Mali.  We are heartbroken and mourn each victim equally.  Below are their countries' flags from top left, Russia next to Lebanon and below France next to Mali.

The Paris tragedy hit me more because I was born in France, my mother was born in Paris and I was raised there.  I looked on Google Map and saw that from our home in the 9th arrondissement (9th quarter) it was just a half hour+ walk to the Bataclan concert hall where most of the attacks took place on Friday the 13th - 2.9 km or 1.8 miles.

All over the world there have been shows of support and solidarity with Paris.  Here are some pictures from many countries - Muslim women lightening candles in Mumbai, India, three candles blue white and red in Lima, Peru, a small Eiffel Tower replica and candles in Makati City, Philippines, a young girl lightening a candle in Asuncion, Paraguay, the old city wall in Jerusalem, Israel and the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.  (Pictures courtesy Voix de l'Afrique.)

The French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was also sung under many skies.  At the England-France game in Wembley, London, on 17 November, 2015, the spectators and the soccer teams sang our anthem in unison.  It had been written phonetically for them, by India Knight, so they could sing it with ease.  Here is the anthem in French and phonetically.

Allons enfants de la Patrie                              Ah-lonz uhn-fun dullah pahtree-ee-uh
Le jour de gloire est arrivé.                            Luh joor de glwahh ate arry-vay
Contre nous, de la tyrannie,                           Contra noo de lah tee-rah-neee-uh
L'étandard sanglant est levé,                          Letten-dar son-glan tay lev-eh
l'étandard sanglant est levé,                           Letten-dar so-on-glan tay lev-eh
Entendez-vous, dans nos compagnes,            Ontonn-dey voo dan no campa-nn-uh,
Mugir ces feroces soldats                               Moo-geer say fair-oss-uh solda
Qui viennent jusque dans nos bras                 Ki vienn, jooska dahn no bra
Egorger no fils et nos compagnes                  Ay-gorge-ay no fiss ay no compaaaah-gnnh
Aux armes citoyens! Lancez vos bataillons !  Ozarm-uh sit-waah-yen, Lan-say vo bata ah-yon
Marchons, marchons! Marchons !                  Marsh on, marsh on
Qu’un sang impur                                           Kun son im-pure
Abreuve nos sillons.                                        Abb rev-er noh see-on

And this is the way it sounded that night in London - (isn't it moving?)

"Fluctuat nec mergitur" the old Paris motto started to appear in the last few days on walls and social media on the web as a resistance cry against terrorism.  It was also written on a large banner on the Place de la Republique in Paris.  (Photos courtesy Debora Ramos and Joann Sfar.)

 "Fluctuat nec mergitur" has been Paris motto, or maxim, since the 16th century.  It is a Latin phrase that means "tossed but not sunk."  This motto usually appears under a vessel in the coat of arms of the city of Paris.  During the French Revolution all coat of arms were abolished, including this one.  But in 1853, the prefect of Paris, Baron Haussmann, officially reintroduced the Paris coat of arms.  This coat of arms is very popular and can be seen on all city halls in Paris, public buildings, train stations, bridges, all Paris schools including La Sorbonne university, stamps, medals and more.  Fluctuat nec mergitur is translated into French as "Il est battu par les flots, mais ne sombre pas" meaning in a way that Paris, despite adversities of all types is always indestructible.

The Eiffel Tower was not lighted, as a mourning sign, from Friday 13 through Monday 16 November, 2015.  But then it was bright again with the French flag colors.  The Paris motto could be seen on the deck of the first floor (Trocadero side.)  Photos courtesy Paris Match.

Parisians are not church people, they gathered near makeshift memorials and public squares.  The Paris city government had told the citizens to stay indoors but they did not - they wanted to show that acts of terrorism were not going to prevent them from living as they pleased, placing candles, flowers and other tributes to show their solidarity.  On the Place de la Republique, at the base of the statue were several signs with words in French saying "Même pas peur !"  (not even afraid) and France is not afraid, but very sad.  This theme was also seen on the internet and in several countries.

Parisians wanted to show the terrorists that they did not yield to fear, that they would raise their heads and keep drinking on the Paris terraces (outdoor cafes,) stroll through the streets of the capital and let their children play outside - as acts of rebellion, political acts.  Although I think it is a bit early, and their hearts are not in it.  Several #ashtags were seen, such as #Notafraid, #occupyterrasse, #Parisestunefete, #occupycomptoir, #tousaubistrot and #maindanslamain.  Parisians were not betrayed by fears and were trying hard to sing under their tears.  It's a feeling I recognized.  After 9/11 when people were afraid to go to New York City, my first impulse was to fly there, and I did, alone, as soon as my company gave me some time off, just some weeks later, in October 2001.  (See "A cancelled trip" written on September 10, 2011.)  I was given a pamphlet in New York - it said "Hate cannot win."  I still hope so.

On the other hand, I was saddened and surprised to see an international survey, a while back, showing that US citizens now were the most afraid from all the citizens in western countries.  I forgot exactly all the reasons of their fright, but there were many.  It showed that in the US most people (not all, thankfully) are afraid of foreigners, immigrants, refugees, people of other colors, races, religions other than Christian (super afraid of Muslims and Sikhs.)  They are also terrified of diseases, such as Ebola, scared to travel overseas, scared of some food, scared of plane crashes, scared of real estate bubbles, scared of poisonous toys from China, scared of kids getting autism from vaccinations, and much more, and right now mostly scared of Syrian refugees and Mexicans.  (Although I read yesterday that between 2009 and 2014 more Mexicans went back home than came into the US ...)  By the way, the father of Steve Jobs (founder of Apple) was an immigrant from Syria.  Here is Steve below as a young man.

My father was a refugee.  France took, for political asylum, more than 80,000 Armenian refugees after the Genocide in Turkey.  My father, an Armenian, was born in Istanbul, was considered without a country, and taken in by the French.  He became a French citizen after fighting for France in WWII.  I am not sure why Americans are so afraid when you think that in the last decade 24 persons have been killed in the USA due to terrorism and 280,024 have died victims of gun violence.  Almost 30 persons die each day in motor vehicles crashes (that's almost 11,000 per year.)  But two days ago, on November 19, 2015, the US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed the Republican party act to suspend admitting the 10,000 Syrian refugees that the US had scheduled to accept in the next years - France is admitting 30,000 Syrian refugees.  Below is a picture of my mother's grandmother, my great grandmother.  She was born in France in the mid 1850s.

Her name was Alexandrine Bourdain.  The reason I am showing her is because my mother told me that she, Alexandrine, a young woman in 1878, gave her savings toward the financing of a great statue that was being sculpted by a French man, from Alsace, named Frederic A. Bartholdi.  The funding for this statue had been difficult to achieve, so a large collection for public fund had been launched in 1875, continuing till 1880, and most French citizens were contributing, including Alexandrine.  To help with funding, the head of the statue was shown in the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1878 - see vintage picture below.

Finally this statue, called La Statue de la Liberté (Liberty Enlightening the World) was offered as a gift from the French people to the United States and arrived in New York City on 17 June 1885, greeted in port by about 100 ships - see vintage postcard below.  I wrote the history of the Statue of Liberty in my July 4, 2009, post - click here to read it.

My great grandmother loved America because it had abolished slavery, and was greeting immigrants and refugees freely into their land - the land of freedom for all.  She gave the love of the US to her granddaughter, my mother, who was an active member of the organization France-Louisiane, and my mother gave this love to me.  But now after everything I have heard in the news lately, I wonder if the last five lines of Emma Lazarus' poem are still valid - "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.  The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"  The Republican Party might consider adding "unless they are Syria or Middle-East refugees and not Christians."  My great grandmother would be aghast at how the US is being defined by fear now instead of "liberty."  But, as for me, I still hope that good compassionate people here will have the upper hand.

Addendum:  Speaking of a fearful and prejudiced public refusing entry to refugees, I just read an article in History Buff by Jake Offenhartz, a graduate of the University of Michigan.  He relates that according to documents discovered in 2012, Otto Frank, the father of Anne Frank - whose book "The Diary of Anne Frank" was published after WWII - had written numerous letters to US officials pleading for permission to immigrate to the United States with his family as refugees.  The letters were written between April and December 1941 and went unanswered.  After Otto Frank's letters requesting political asylum were ignored by the US, the Franks went into hiding.  The family was later discovered and sent to concentration camps.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Paris - Les larmes de Marianne (The tears of Marianne)

Marianne, the national symbol of the French Republic is crying.  On Friday November 13, 2015, citizens of France, and visitors to France were killed, 130 so far, 349 injured - 96 critically.

It has been very painful for everyone to watch the horrendous events on television.  My heart is broken to see that so many innocent people were hurt in my beautiful city.  I was distressed to watch these areas that I know so well, being the site of such hateful acts.  What has happened to our world?  Growing up in Paris I was never scared, rarely saw policemen bearing firearms - I could come back home alone at night and not feel I was in any danger.  Paris is a city to be happy, to be alive, to love, to understand la joie de vivre and not be afraid.  Paris belongs to all of us in a way - and, as I saw in an Italian comment "Parigi è tutti noi"  (Paris is all of us) the City of Light symbol, not the city of sorrow.  It was unbearable for me to see these terrifying events in Paris last Friday night unfolding on television - to hear the shots, the screams at the Bataclan.  Here are pictures of the Bataclan, interior and exterior, below.

When I lived in Paris with my parents we did go to the Bataclan - then it was a movie theatre.  It is an historic building built in 1864 to resemble a Chinese pagoda - a large building with a cafe and a theatre.  It was named after a Chinese type operetta "Ba-Ta-Clan" by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880.)  It had a vast hall for 2500 people but a fire in 1933 destroyed part of the building.  In 1950 it was modified to adhere to safety standards, and in 1952 became a new cinema with 1350 seats.  In 1969 the cinema closed and in 1983 it became a theatre again.  In 2005 new owners changed the Bataclan, holding now 1500 seats, with updated acoustics, showing mostly rock concerts, but also trendy comedies and variety shows.  The owners are Jewish and have received numerous threats from radical groups as the hall is also used to hold regular conferences and galas for Jewish organizations.  Well known artists have appeared there along the years, such as Edith Piaf, Cesara Evora and international rock groups with a large fan base.  Here is a vintage postcard of the Bataclan.

The Grand Chinese Cafe, attached to the Bataclan concert hall, is now the Bataclan Cafe on boulevard Voltaire, a large friendly place, serving high rated brunches, lunches and dinners.

The rock group, Eagles of Death Metal, from California, was playing there last Friday to a sold-out audience.  Unlike their name, the group does not play metal type music; they are an underground favorite, mixing 1970s type blues-rock with humor.  Their style has been described as "bluegrass slide guitar mixed with stripper drum beats and Canned Heat vocals."  They have a large following in France, and in Europe.  After the first shots were heard the band managed to escape the stage through the back of the theatre and run to a police station.  The drummer Julian Dono, an Atlanta native and UGA graduate, now based in Nashville, was able to call his wife from there.  Sadly, their merchandise manager, Nick Alexander, 36, was killed in the concert hall.  Below are pictures of their show in Paris that night, courtesy AFP Photo/Rock&Folk/MarionRuszniewski.  The band cancelled the rest of their European tour.

Francois Molins, the Paris public prosecutor, said that the attacks started at 9:15 pm on Friday, November 13, 2015, at the soccer stadium on the outskirts of Paris.  This could have been a bloodbath if the attackers had blown themselves inside the stadium, but they did it outside the gates.  Another terrorist team followed at 9:20 pm with shots to the outside table occupants of two restaurants, Carillon and Le Petit Cambodge.  At 9:22 pm shots were fired at Casa Nostra, a pizza place followed at 9:35 pm with shootings at a bar called La Belle Equipe.  At 9:43 pm a bombing killed one person at a cafe called Comptoir Voltaire.  Then at 9:45 pm the attackers went into the packed Bataclan concert hall, killing the crowd at random - 89 persons perished.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Because of this, Marianne is crying.  We are all crying ensemble - together and grieving.

The French flag - the tricolor, as well as Marianne, embody the French Republic.  As an allegory of Liberty and the Republic, Marianne wears a Phrygian cap and first appeared during the French Revolution.  She symbolizes the triumph of the Republic and has a place of honor in town halls and law courts where she can be seen in statues all over the country, standing, sitting, as a bust or just as a head.  Marianne is a republic symbol, opposed to monarchy and any form of dictatorship.  She is an allegory for wisdom, reason, and liberty/freedom - she is the "Goddess of Liberty."  Along the years her style has changed as you can see below.

She is the official government logo of France and is engraved on French coins and French postage stamps.

Marianne has been shown on magazines, postcards, as well as on cheese packaging and ads for soaps.  Artists have painted her, such as the sad Marianne by Bernard Buffet, French (1928-1999) shown below, bottom left.

A statue of Marianne is also on Place de la Nation in Paris, shown on top below, and Place de la Republique, shown on the vintage postcard.

Thousands came on Sunday, November 15, 2015, to the Place de la Republique, to honor the victims of the terrorist attacks, to bring flowers and candles and show that they are not afraid of terrorism and stand together against it.  Parisians had been told to stay indoor (and they did not) but for a while in the evening, after a bottle exploded in a cafe, all the people around the Republique statue fled in an instant.  Photo below courtesy Julien Warmand.

I hope that these terrible events in Paris will not play in the hands of the far right French parties in the next elections, enabling them to obtain electoral benefit from this tragedy.  I also hope that governments such as France, the US, the UK and other allies will not start another large war.  It does not seem that the Iraq war brought much happiness to the inhabitants of that region.  It did not destroy Al-Qaeda which has been attacking for 17 years but has brought about the militant and ruthless ISIS (ISIL/Daech.)  The heavy military strategy from the West has not obtained good results so far against these violent groups.  I think more should be done to stop young men and women to join these radical groups.  We should address the reasons for their anger and actions.  When young people have nothing to look forward to - no job, no income, no power to change their corrupt governments, no hope whatsoever - it is easy for militant Jidahist groups to recruit them and brainwash them.  I don't see a quick resolution to this problem.  I was greatly touched though by the support for Paris from many cities across the world, as these pictures show below - at the World Trade Center in New York, in Berlin, in Canada, in London, in Shanghai, in Mexico, in San Francisco, and Sydney - courtesy CNN.

It certainly is a nice change to have our France liked here and abroad and not be the butt of jokes as the American Right loved to do, but I wish there had been no tragedy to get this result.  I was very moved to hear so many sing La Marseillaise, our national anthem, and see our flag shown in several places, such as in sport events here.  Louisiana State University team, the helicopter for the Air Force Utah State game and the Army game photos below, courtesy USA Today.

I spent much time on television and the web watching and reading on the tragic events in Paris.  One comment I read on the New York Times on Friday night by a person using the nickname Blackpoodles showed touching words of solidarity for our city -

"Blackpoodles,  Santa Barbara
France embodies everything religious zealots everywhere hate: enjoyment of life here on earth in a myriad little ways: a fragrant cup of coffee and buttery croissant in the morning, beautiful women in short dresses smiling freely on the street, the smell of warm bread, a bottle of wine shared with friends, a dab of perfume, children paying in the Luxembourg Gardens, the right not to believe in any god, not to worry about calories, to flirt and smoke and enjoy sex outside of marriage, to take vacations, to read any book you want, to go to school for free, to play, to laugh, to argue, to make fun of prelates and politicians alike, to leave worrying about the afterlife to the dead.
No country does life on earth better than the French.
Paris, we love you.  We cry for you.  You are mourning tonight and we with you.  We know you will laugh again, and sing again, and make love, and heal, because loving life is your essence.  The forces of darkness will ebb.  They will lose.  They always do."

I certainly could not add anything to these beautiful words. (Drawing below by Benjamin Regnier.)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Apples and pumpkins in Ellijay, Georgia

October is over.  It went by so fast.  We have been very busy again this month and spent many days away from the house.  After our week spent in Tennessee there were two weddings in the family.  Unfortunately they were on the same day and in different states.  My husband's nephew was married by a lake, in Georgia, and a member of our younger daughter husband's family was married in Texas.  We went to the wedding in Georgia with our older daughter, fiance, son-in-law and two grandchildren.  Our younger daughter attended the wedding in Texas with the other two grandchildren (the sister of my daughter's brother-in-law was married that day.)  Here are three pictures of each wedding: by the lake, and my daughter and granddaughter wearing Indian saris in the Texas wedding.  In another picture they are with her parents-in-law.

This year again we went to take a look at the Chalkfest festival on the Marietta Square.  I took many pictures and will have them in a post shortly.  As I mentioned in my last post my main desktop computer broke down.  I did not buy another desktop computer, just a large size monitor to go with my laptop computer.  While we were away I took my other small notebook computer with me but it never let me access anything online, so it has to go for repair, too.  I rarely opened a computer and I am way behind again visiting my friends' blogs.  When I wrote my last post the leaves were still green here, but now some of the trees are starting to show beautiful fall colors.  I took these photos below yesterday in our yard.  The fallen leaves keep my husband busy sweeping.

My husband and I also spent about a week in the western North Carolina Mountains and the North Georgia Mountains.  It was a relaxing week - no telephone, no computer and no television.  While driving these very narrow and curvy roads in the mountains we listened to satellite radio in our car.  I took many pictures but they have not been downloaded yet.  We did see the waterfall below (photo courtesy Dave Allen.)

When we came back home we briefly tuned into our television and the Republican debate was being shown.  Although after I heard presidential candidate Jeb Bush's comments, I turned the television off.  For my friends out of the country - previous US President George W. Bush's younger brother Jeb is running for president this time.  And, just as the rest of the Bush family, Jeb likes to bash France.  Jeb, while attacking another candidate, Marco Rubio, told Marco that he needed to show up for work - and added it wasn't that difficult, given the Senate's "French 3-day work week." However, the French Ambassador to the United States, Gerard Araud, did not appreciate the comment and replied, via social media "A French work week of 3 days? No, but a pregnancy paid leave of 16 weeks yes! And proud of it."  It does not seem an intelligent diplomatic move for Jeb Bush to try becoming a US President by alienating and insulting a friend and ally.  I guess Jeb feels bashing the French is OK in the US, and a family tradition since he must have heard many similar racist comments from his brother, George (because French President Jacques Chirac did not want France, just like Germany, to join the US-led invasion of Iraq.)  Chirac had said "whenever there were difficult circumstances the French were side by side with the Americans.  The French don't either forget what America and Americans did for us in both world wars.  It is in our minds and also deep down in our hearts ..."  "But if I see my friend or somebody I dearly love going down the wrong path, then I owe it to him to warn him be careful ..."  Chirac thought it was an unnecessary war that would destabilize the region.

We had just finished traveling in beautiful autumnal landscape and this television program was a sad way to return to daily life.  Below are the mountains in the evening sun glow in North Carolina.

The next afternoon we reached Ellijay in the North Georgia Mountains.  I already wrote a post on the Apple Festival in Ellijay, an important event for the town.  See my post of October 18, 2011 "The Apple Festival in Ellijay."  This time we only stopped at the Panorama Orchards - a family run fruit farm established in the 1920's.  They offer more than 20 varieties of apples, as well as other fruits and vegetables.  They are located off the highway in front of another apple producer, Penland's Apple House.  The day we stopped the large Panorama Orchards market was full of patrons.  You can see in my picture below that some people came from Ringgold, GA, which is about 55 miles away (88 km.)

There were also colorful pumpkins for sale in the parking lot.  The market is on a hill and the mountains can be seen in the background.  On the other side you can see the railroad tracks and kudzu vines that will die out upon the first frost.

We started by looking at the bakery.  I placed some sourdough apple bread and a large apple pie in my basket.  We also stopped by the fudge counter.  We sampled some of the jams, spreads, barbecue sauces, etc., and I picked up a jar of sorghum syrup, and one of apricot-ginger teriyaki sauce for stir-fries.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Then we walked along the shelves that bear a multitude of preserves, jars, sauces, pickles and more.

Since it was almost 2:00 pm, we stopped and bought some ice cream as a small lunch meal ...  We also bought, to take home, some fried apple pies.

I then took pictures of the fried apple pie bakers and staff - some stopped their work to smile at me.

The market has an "old timey" style.  Antiques are used to hold merchandise and notes are written on blackboards.  You can also watch where cider is being made.

Before leaving we went towards the fresh apple stands.

First, we tasted samples of all the apples for sale and selected one half peck of the Pink Lady and Cameo varieties.

Back home I took my apples outdoor and placed them on the table in a still-life type arrangement, such as in the painting of Paul Cezanne below.

Pommes et biscuits - Paul Cezanne, French, 1839-1906

Of course my apples are a photographic still-life.  I am not sure which picture I like the best - I did take 20 pictures of the apples, here are some of them below.

But it is Halloween night, so I should show pumpkins instead of apples.  Here are three of my grandchildren below with pumpkins and some vintage postcards.

and I'll finish this post with a worked-up picture of one of my apples style-life.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Rippavilla Plantation in Tennessee

It was raining most of the time last week while we were in Tennessee.  We drove to our daughter Jessica's house in Brentwood, near Nashville, on September 26, 2015, to celebrate her birthday.  We did celebrate it on Sunday evening, eating barbecue in the backyard, the only time the weather was mild and dry.  The barbecue came from "Corky's Ribs and Barbecue."  Our other daughter, Celine, had taken us to the oiriginal Corky's restaurant in Memphis, TN, when we visited her there several years ago while she lived in Memphis. (Memphis restaurant shown below.)

As we were finishing our meal I observed the stunning sunset behind the trees.  This was the only sunset we saw while we were in Tennessee as it rained daily.

While we were in Tennessee my son-in-law made an appointment for me to see one of his friends, a knee doctor.  We drove to this doctor in Columbia, TN.  After the x-rays were taken, the doctor said that all the cartilage in my knees is gone and I need knee replacement.  He said that walking must be very painful - it is.  The doctor recommended that I see another specialist for my left foot which is also painful.  That doctor recommended surgery for my foot.  I have not been sick often but I have had several injuries at work in my knees and foot and arthritis has set in the joins.  Anyhow, while driving through the town of Spring Hill, TN, we saw an old mansion.  Since we were early for the doctor's appointment we stopped.  The name of the house was "Rippavilla Plantation."  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

There was a large open field with an historic marker.  It indicated that this was the site of a Civil War battle, the Battle of Spring Hill which took place on November 29, 1864.

Last year the Battle of Spring Hill sesquicentennial (150th anniversary) was commemorated with hundreds of re-enactors, cannons and gunfire. (Photos courtesy Rippavilla.)

 The Rippavilla Plantation leaflet indicates that "..during the Civil War, troops of both armies camped and fought battles on and near the plantation.  Both Union and Confederate generals used Rippavilla as their headquarters.  In the dining room on November 30, 1864, Confederate General John Bell Hood outlined plans for the Battle of Franklin."  Thousands of Union and Confederate troops lost their lives in the Rippavilla fields but now the fields look peaceful and quiet.  However, paranormal investigations are hosted periodically at Rippavilla.  People have heard footsteps in the basement, banging doors, seen shadows, heard voices in some empty rooms and witnessed a doll and craddle moving on its own in the nursery ... The investigations are called "Whispers from the Past."

I think the old building below must have been a slave cabin, but it was sprinkling, the grass was wet and not easy for me to walk on, so I did not get close to read the sign.  I understand that before the Civil War 75 slaves resided at the plantation.

We drove close to the museum gift shop housed in the old carriage house, parked the car and went in.  There we read information about the plantation.  It has been restored to its 1860s appearance and contains many original period family antique pieces, family heirlooms and genuine Civil War artifacts.  However we were pressed for time, so we will visit the house interior in the future.  Rippavilla Plantation does not receive local, state or federal money for its expenses or upkeep, so I bought several souvenirs including postcards, a hand-made box containing a calligraphy pen (pictured on top and bottom of this post) and a small disk of wood.  A 400 years old oak tree fell during a heavy storm and small disks from it are offered for sale to benefit the plantation.  Here is my disk below (the initials SH mean Spring Hill.)  It must have been cut from a fallen branch.  Pictures of the tree courtesy Rippavilla Plantation.

The rain had stopped so we walked through the back patio to view the front of the house.

After passing through a wrought iron gate we saw another fountain and workers trimming a tree.

There certainly were some large old trees around the house.

Then we saw the front of the mansion.  This house was built in the 1850s by Nathaniel Cheairs for his family - his wife Susan McKissack Cheairs and their children.  Nathaniel was a Major in the Confederate Army.  He had voted against Secession during the Tennessee Referendum of 1861 but went ahead and joined his neighbors going to war (he was made prisoner twice) while his wife and children stayed home.  Below is a portrait of Nathaniel Cheairs and one of Susan and her daughter Sara.

The house was not destroyed during the war as it was used as a headquarters building.  Nathaniel Cheairs died in 1893 and his wife Susan in 1914, but the mansion stayed in the family until 1920.  This Greek revival plantation home still sits on its original 1,100 acres (445.15 ha.)

I wish we could have visited the interior of the house but we had an appointment to keep.  We walked around the house and I took several pictures - but it started sprinkling again, so we returned to our car in the back.

The plantation brochure states that their mission is to preserve, restore and interpret the buildings and grounds of the Cheairs' family in order to create a site to be used as an education institution.  During the year Rippavilla Plantation entertains several festivals, re-enactments, car shows, and can also be rented for weddings and special events.  (The following photos courtesy the plantation - remember to click twice on the collage to see better.)

Rippavilla Plantation is decorated at Christmas time.

It must be very pretty under the snow.

Below are some of the postcards I purchased and additional interior photos from the plantation as well as a photo of one of the docents who conduct tours.

Here is an interesting note that I found out - In the 1850s, William McKissack, a brickyard owner in Spring Hill, offered free bricks and free slave labor to build Rippavilla Plantation as a wedding gift to his son-in-law Nathaniel Cheairs.  Brothers Moses and Calvin McKissack, descendants of a former McKissack slave who had been a trained builder, formed one of Nashville's earliest architectural and engineering partnerships, McKissack and McKissack.  The firm was based in Nashville, TN, and is now based in New York City and Washington, DC.  It was the first African-American owned architectural firm in the US and is the oldest minority-owned architecture and engineering firm in the country.  Below is Moses McKissack, a photo of Sam Bond among children - a former slave then the plantation overseer after he gained his freedom, and an old photo in front of the house.

We did not stay long at this historic plantation, but we enjoyed learning about its past and were glad we had stopped.

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