Monday, January 21, 2019

Stops along the way ...

A couple of days ago it was time again to drive to Georgia.  The only part of the trip I stress about is going through the mountains in Tennessee on U.S I-24; mostly the notorious portion that goes over Monteagle, TN.  It is considered to be one of the most dangerous sections of interstate highway in the US.  You have to climb up as your ears close from the height, and then the long dangerous downgrade begins with 18-wheeler trucks all around you - and your stomach is fluttering under the strain.  Damages on the median barrier show that many vehicles have experienced problems.  Tough truck drivers avoid the Monteagle mountain stretch and call it a "white-knuckle" highway.  Country singer Johnny Cash had a song about it "Your life is in your hands when you start down that long steep grade on Monteagle Mountain," and so forth.  The scenery is gorgeous is you are a passenger and able to look at the icy rocks, the lovely waterfalls and way down in the valley.  As a driver my eyes are glued on the highway, hoping for no brake failure happening on a large truck but knowing that it did happen by the marks left on the runaway truck ramps on the side of the road.

Usually I stop at the South Pittsburg rest station a few miles past Monteagle, as I have shown on my posts before, but this time I decided to stop first in rural Monteagle, where I had never been.  "Keeping by the main road is easy; but people love to be sidetracked."  Lao Tzu (570 BC-490 BC, Chinese philosopher.)  Because of the elevation it was cold and also quite foggy.  I stopped at a shop called "The Amish Hippie" on Monteagle Main Street.  (Click on collage to enlarge.)

Inside it was a bit warmer, with a whiff of incense in the air.  A young woman, covered in several layers of sweaters, greeted me.  She invited me to look around and then asked me if I was German - wrong! (because of my accent.)  I walked slowly around the store, looking at the eclectic merchandise.  There were Amish jams, honey, jellies, creams, homemade toys and some vintage items scattered all around.  Rock music was playing.

The other two rooms had a mixture of tobacco paraphernalia, hookas, jewelry, souvenirs, dyed clothing, tee shirts, capes, sweaters and more.  The walls were covered with hippie photographs, rock stars of the 60s and 70s, and peace symbols.

Back outdoor, it was still cold.  I walked around taking pictures of old cars, yard ornaments, and assorted eccentric items.  The store offered coffee - there were some old tables and chairs outside but uncomfortable looking, even in summer.

As I drove away I remembered a poster I saw in the store, "The Wall" an album by the rock group Pink Floyd.  Pink Floyd was an English rock band of the 1960s with psychedelic music, sonic experimentation and philosophical lyrics.

The word wall in French is mur, le mur.  That word reminded me of something.  Yes, that's it; it was a book I studied in college Le Mur by Jean Paul Sartre.  J.P. Sartre (1905-1980) was a French philosopher, novelist, playwright, political activist and more.  He is one of the best known French 20th century philosophers, a leading figure of the existentialist movement.  He wrote this book of short stories in 1939.  It included the story Le Mur set during the Spanish Civil War.  It was about prisoners condemned to death, not a fun story.  It depicted a wall separating life from death, the living from the condemned and represented brute matter.  I have this paperback in French on one of my bookshelves still.

I stopped at the rest area for my small lunch and then back on the road for the almost 3 hours of driving left and much time to think.  My mind returned to the wall.  I walked on several old walls, ramparts actually, such as in Dubrovnik, Croatia, began in the 8th century and the ramparts in Lucca, Italy.  In France as well there are so many small villages to large fortified cities with heavy walls or ramparts.  I'll show several below.

These fortified walled cities were built centuries ago for protection, with watchtowers for observation against any attack.  During the day the gates were opened to welcome anyone looking for refuge.  Still these walls were breached numerous times such as during the Crusades (conquest of Jerusalem in 1099.)  For protection I guess I could have a wall built around my house in Georgia like in medieval times, but I prefer using an electrical security system with motion sensors and cameras, because this is available in the 21st century, you see.  This brings me to President Trump's wall on the southern border with Mexico.  Even a republican, Will Hurd of Texas, said that a border wall strategy is ancient and borders can better be protected with drones, satellites and aerial reconnaissance (his district includes 820 miles on this border.)  I also found out that even though D. Trump said 4000 known or suspected terrorists were stopped at the border, the number was only 6 people (4000 was the worldwide number) and 91 people were stopped at the US-Canada border.  So, the wall should be at the Canadian border?  The State Department said that there is "no credible evidence that terrorists enter through the southern border."  In fact they come through entry points airports.  I enjoyed the cartoon below from Marian Kamensky.

U.S Border Patrol reports "Apprehension of people trying to cross the southern border peaked most recently at 1.6 million in 2000 and have been in decline since, falling to just under 400,000 in fiscal 2018."  This is not an emergency.  Actually, Germany which is a tiny country compared to the US, gets about 722,000 asylum seekers.  But there is an emergency and that is to send all the government employees back to paid work.  My daughter was at La Guardia Airport in New York 3 days ago trying to fly back home to Pennsylvania.  After waiting several hours because of the weather the passengers were told to just board the plane with their hand luggage as there were no TSA employee available.  They went on without taking their shoes off, or anyone checking their luggage or themselves, just like we did in the 1990s.  Bewildering!  I need to stop thinking about walls.  Still I'd like to return to Carcassonne in France with my camera as I only spent 3 days there with my film camera.  It is the largest city in Europe with its walls still intact, built in the 12th century.  Below are an ancient engraving and a modern aerial view of the city.

I have been busy clearing out my youngest daughter's bedroom.  After she left for university years ago the room was mostly used as a closet and was packed full.  I am slowly tidying it but stop sometimes to look and take pictures of what I find.  For example the Raggedy Ann dolls, shown below.  She says she does not want them for the granddaughter.  What should I do?  Give them to the Goodwill I guess.

There were more packages of old photographs and vintage postcards.  I had found some earlier and just took them to Nashville without looking but this time I stopped to take a look at them, not all, just several.  Unfortunately the photos were not dated.  I know though that the pictures of New York were taken near Ground Zero about 4 weeks after 9/11/01 when I flew there to bring support.

I'm not sure of the date of the photos below.  On top left I was taking a group of aeronautic trainees,
Chinese and Saudis, on an excursion in Chicago, IL.  Next is my eldest daughter in Paris in winter.  Below is my daughter at my French cousin for lunch and her "plateau de fromages" (cheese tray) she had gathered for us.

I also took photos of several vintage postcards.  Below is an old (1903) postcard of Queen Victoria, who had died in 1901.  Next is the family of Tsar Nicholas II of Russia with St. Petersburg below.

Every month I used to go to the Scott Antique and Flea Market at the Atlanta Lakewood Fairgrounds with a friend.  There were several booths then of vendors of vintage postcards.  One of them used to offer old photographs, for 50 cents or so.  I did buy quite a few - loved the hats!

I have to stop all this and get back to work.  Although after a while it gets tiresome to constantly clear up, clean up and gather up to give away.  I went out to look at the wind in the trees.  You can't see from the pictures below, but the wind was moving the pine trees back and forth.

Today it was sunny but still cold - only in the low 40s F (4 C.)  Tomorrow it is supposed to get back into the 60s F (15.5 c) but even so, I'd rather be in the postcard below, building a wall in the sand with children in Ramsgate (UK.) ...


Elephant's Child said...

The final wall in this post is charming. The historical walls are of interest as well - and I love that they were opened to refugees.
I do hope that the government workers get paid. Soon. I suspect that if Congress was unpaid Government shutdowns would be rare - and brief.
Glad you made it over the mountain safely.

DJan said...

t was fun to join you vicariously, especially the highway part. I don't think I'd be very happy to have to drive it myself. I LOVE those dolls. Maybe you should put them on E-bay and make some money from them. Probably worth a bit. :-)

bayou said...

Love everything about your post, as always it is so inspiring. What a pity, that you are not with someone to help you clearing out the house and go through all its treasures. Coming from a country which had its fair share of a wall, I'd rather not want to dwell and reflect over Trump's plans. I was only a child when my grandmother called and screamed over the phone with those very words: 'they are going to lock us in!' Since then, our very own family had its wall between us, we were only allowed to see the grandparents once a year for 3 or 4 weeks, they needed a visa to come and only had the right to pass because they were of old age and likely not to escape whilst on their visit to the West.
And then I think about how victoriously the Germans from both sides brought that wall down, eventually. Sadly, it was way to late to bring our family together again. But the next generation was free again.
Sending you boatloads of good vibes, dear Vagabonde. Je t'embrasse bien fort.

Thérèse said...

Que de souvenirs t'on inspiré ton voyage vers l'état de Géorgie! Comme nous avons déjà déménagé plus d'une fois, de tels souvenirs ont été rangés ou donnés depuis longtemps... par contre la carte de Ramsgate me ramène des années en arrière lors de ma deuxième année en Angleterre où nous avions passé un week-end à Ramsgate pour y rencontrer une diseuse de bonne aventure... elle avait bien vu les choses quand j'y repense... bien que ses dires auraient pu s'appliquer à d'autres qu'à moi également. ;-)

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

What a fascinating journey from the drive, the Amish place , Le Mur which I also studied at Uni to your own memories as you try to empty spaces filled with them. It is also your direction to Trump and a wall when in today’s world we have genetic engineering kits being sold for experimentation that are far more dangerous than the need to create walls. Our internet world and smart phones can go beyond any wall including prison walls. I think the president hooked on Twitter has no clue that he is a world leader being used because he lacks real understanding of today’s technology along with much of today’s population. The world has changed but education of those changes is not being taught on a large fact I see cut backs in education spending as a means to control a population. Freedom is at risk as the two/three party system of governing is at a stale mate. It is a blow to democracy not just in US but many places now. Money rules. No idea how that will change.
I recall those doll were once in our home and sometimes Halloween ones appeared as costumes were made.
I look forward to another visit to your post soon.

Cloudia said...

Fun traveling with you!

David said...

Hi Vagabonde, I always thought that a stretch of I-40 through the plateau was an ugly scary drive but it sounds like I-24 near Monteagle is worse. We've only driving I-24 around Chattanooga and north of Nashville. That Amish Hippie store looks interesting even if it is a bit weird. We been on Hadrian's wall...and that's about it. We'd love to walk around on Dubrovnik's ramparts.

As for 'the wall' here in the USA, if we work out some form of amnesty leading to citizenship for those already here and then enforce the laws already on the books, we could reduce the problem. If people weren't hired if they lacked a green card or weren't citizens, or here illegally, the USA would be able to control the reduced flow of immigrants. we need immigrants to keep our economy healthy but it would work better for everyone if we had a clear way forward. (Given current divisive politics, it just isn't likely to get better)

It's kind of sad that your daughter doesn't want the dolls and stuffed toys for her daughter. I've laid the guilt trip on our it or not. He's getting all of our stuff whether he wants it or not. Thousands of family photos, family history documents, postcard collection, stuffed bears from my wife, sketchbooks from his grandmother, etc.

Hopefully Congress and the President will send everyone back to work sooner rather than later. I expect the TSA Agents or Air Traffic Controllers will just walk out and they'll have to fund them or the country will come to a grinding halt! There is no middle ground with our short sighted politicians...

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Marja said...

Oh love these postcards. Quite a trip you have undertaken but what a charming place that hippy place and love their shop. Dubrovnik is still on my bucket list of walls to see. In Holland you also have a lot of medieval walls, especially by castles. I heard when gun power was invented the wall and castles were no protection anymore and people moved to the cities.
Love the Trump cartoon and following it all in disbelief.
Au revoir

Jeanie said...

I really love your postcard collection. I need to find a better way to display mine, which are right now in a basket, someone in order by topic and somewhat not. Loved that you went off the highway and into town for your road break. It looks like the kind of fun, quirky store I really love. And your thoughts on the wall -- well, you and I are on the same page about that. Don't start me.

Pity no one wants your Raggedy Ann -- it's adorable and in wonderful shape. I hope whomever ends up with it loves it.

Glenda Beall said...

Your blog posts are educational and fun. I really like the photos and the walls are interesting. Just heard tonight that the government shut down has ended for now. I do hope the politicians can act like grownups and negotiate some kind of reasonable immigration policy. Our president often acts like a spoiled child who must have his way no matter who gets hurt.

So glad you made that dangerous highway safely. Take care of yourself. I like DJan's idea. Sell those wonderful dolls on E-bay. I know there are others who would treasure them.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, my goodness, what a fascinating ramble through past and present! I visited Monteagle almost 60 years ago -- with a friend from college whose grandparents lived there. No Amish Hippy store -- not much of anything, as I recall.

Thank heavens, the grownups prevailed and the government is open again. Let's hope 45* doesn't try it again.

Magic Love Crow said...

HI my friend! So good to hear from you! I love that Hippie store! So cute!!
Thank you for your blog posts! They are always so informative! I am thankful the United States have opened back their government! I hope everyone gets paid soon!
Love the old postcard images!
Big Hugs!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

You've got a little bit of everything in this post, don't you? (And it's all interesting!)

I've been on that road through Monteagle quite a few times, and you aren't exaggerating. We were even there once when a tractor trailer truck had to use one of those little inclines on the side of the road for stopping runaway vehicles. Scary!

The shop you visited looks terrific. I love that kind of place. And I also love Pink Floyd, and THEIR version of "The Wall." (I hope Trump's version never happens.)

Arti said...

Your post is, as always, rich in historical info and personal insights. You sure are a brave driver, going on these dangerous routes. Thanks for this 'road trip' journal. Interesting you quoted Lao Tzu. I'd be interested to see what the original Chinese words are for this quote. :)

belleek said...

Hello! I’ve arrived here from dear Pat’s blog where I saw a comment from you. Nice to meet you.

I loved your story of the drive on the Monteagle highway and the Amish store. I’ve enjoyed being taken where your thoughts took you and am impressed by your illustrations. Thinking of walls, a memorable walk was round the walls of Heraklion on Crete, amazing design and almost complete!

I will return!

Nadezda said...

Hello, Vagabonde!
I've read your interesting post, it was nice to know your opinion on the Trump's wall and about lots of books you've found now, although they were bought years ago. Is there a place to store all these treasures in Nashville?
The weather was very cold in Chicago, that's true and had to buy a warm sweater for Vasily on Amason and send to him.
Well, take care, do not work hard,

Trishia said...

There is much that I 'should' be doing, but am so enjoying reading your blog posts. You make reference to your accent. The Amish Hippie clerk thought you might be German. When I was 8 years old, my family moved from northern Idaho to Texas (a whole 'nother country:) It was a difficult transition for me. I missed seeing Smokey the Bear visiting my school at least once a year. I missed the mountains. I hated the heat, humidity, cockroaches, snakes and mosquitos of Texas!! Shortly after moving to Texas, I found a poster, a lovely photo of trees, with this quote: "You never leave a place you really love. A part of it you take with you." I have heard that one way we do this is by retaining our accents! Even after living in Texas for 30 years, I would have people interrupt me and say, "You're not from around here, are you?" I'm happy now to be back in the Northwest ... but my retirement dream is to live in Europe. My heart and thoughts are never far away from France...

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