Georgia

Posted by Ellen

In 1940, when photographer Frances Benjamin Johnston visited Wormsloe Plantation near Savannah, Georgia, the approach looked much as it had in antebellum times. Twentieth-century horseless carriages left different tracks in the dirt of the mile-and-a-half-long driveway, but intervening decades had done nothing to change the overall effect of oak and moss and ivy.

The original plantation house, however, built in the mid-eighteenth century out of tabby–cement made primarily of crushed oyster shells–crumbled away long ago. A nineteenth-century replacement house is still controlled by descendants of the family that built the place, though most of the acreage was deeded over to the state during the Depression.

In the early years of the twentieth century, the family name was changed from Jones to DeRenne, and the spelling of the plantation was changed from Wormslow to Wormsloe. They must have had their reasons.

Posted by Ellen

Bright and early today, the kids go back to school in Philadelphia, all except for the kindergarteners, who get a few extra days of freedom before beginning thirteen years or seventeen years or even more of sitting at desks and trying to pay attention.

Of course, the kindergarteners don't know to appreciate their last days of freedom. They'll learn.

In 1983, our oldest child started kindergarten in Decatur, Georgia. Here he is with his class, sitting so nicely in the lower lefthand corner, smiling and looking at the camera, hands clasped in his lap. You better believe we were proud. Still are.

Posted by Ellen

It was springtime, and we were young. I'm thinking it was 1984 in Decatur, Georgia, and Joe was about eighteen months old, Ted about three and a half, and I was a spring chicken myself.

Posted by Ellen

Today's news brought to our attention yet another new crime: CTLOYOHWB, changing the locks on your own house while black. When 61-year-old Jean-Joseph Kalonji and his 57-year-old wife Angelica were caught doing just that the other day in Porterdale, Georgia, they were held at gunpoint by neighbors and then jailed overnight by police.

Fortunately, this time, nobody got shot, but the terror of having strangers hold him prisoner with semi-automatic rifles pointed at his back reminded Kalonji of the violence he had fled when he came to America in the late 1990s as a refugee from Mugabe's Zaire, now Congo. Angelica Kalonji is also an immigrant, from Romania.

The couple was hoping to build a soccer field on the 11-acre property; their son Bruno is a coach in Atlanta.

Among Bruno Kalonji's young soccer players were the children of a high-powered Atlanta attorney, Don Samuel. Samuel took on the case for free, and when he showed up in town, the Kalonjis were released from jail and all charges against them (loitering and prowling) were dropped.

It's been reported that charges may be filed against the gun-toting neighbors, no doubt to take the heat off the idiots in the police department. The Kalonjis have postponed their move into their new home.

These pictures are from Angelica Kalonji's Facebook page; they show the couple's daughter with her cousins during visits to Congo (above) and Romania (below).

Posted by Ellen

Photographer Lewis Wickes Hine, when he stopped in Tifton, Georgia, in 1909 during his travels to document child labor in America, made the following notes about this picture:

Family working in the Tifton Cotton Mill. Mrs. A.J. Young works in mill and at home. Nell (oldest girl) alternates in mill with mother. Mammy (next girl) runs 2 sides. Mary (next) runs 1½ sides. Elic (oldest boy) works regularly. Eddie (next girl) helps in mill, sticks on bobbins. Four smallest children not working yet. The mother said she earns $4.50 a week and all the children earn $4.50 a week. Husband died and left her with 11 children. Two of them went off and got married. The family left the farm two years ago to work in the mill.

Researcher Joe Manning, who has been working for years now to discover what became of the children in Hine's photos, picks up the story:

 For more than four years, I tried to identify the mother and children in this family...giving up, starting again, giving up, etc. I posted the photo on my website, hoping that someone would see it and know who this family was. On January 24, 2011, almost exactly 102 years since the date of this photo (January 22), I received the following email: “The family of Mrs. A.J. Young of Tifton, Ga. is a picture of my grandmother and great-grandmother's family. My mother knows more information.” Several hours later, I talked to both the writer of the email, and her mother, got a few more facts (they didn’t know a lot), and spent the rest of the day searching census and death records on the Internet. After eight more months of research, and interviews with numerous descendants, I have assembled the incredible story of this family, and I am close to posting the entire story on my website. I was able to track down the story of the mother, every child in the photograph, the two children who had recently married and are not in the photo, and the husband/father who had died. Exactly three months after Hine encountered this family, Mrs. Young, in desperation, placed the seven youngest children in an orphanage, and within several years, most had been adopted and lost contact with one another. One hundred years later, the descendants now know what happened to all of them.

I promise to let y'all know as soon as Manning posts the details of the Young family saga. In the meantime, Happy Labor Day Weekend to one and all.