Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Stephen Foster Memorial: a brief history of the past.

This is an in-between post, because I've been so close to the SFM lately, and it kept feeling funnier until my funnyostomy bag was getting too full. Here's where I empty it.

We visited here eight years ago, and my mother INSISTED we go to the Stephen Foster Memorial. She woke us up to announce departure time. Somehow my 16-year-old son charmed his way out of the trip, which is a shame because he would have made it all better and worse at the same time.

I'll introduce the clip, Johnny. The museum houses several skillfully-constructed dioramas of Stephen Foster songs, a few of which, uh, offended me. Okay, okay, I get offended occasionally, just not as much as Snarky Duck. It's my elitist northeastern way.

A charming volunteer guide (I'll call her Marlene) approached us and asked if she could 'show us the moving parts in the dioramas.' She pointed to a large portrait and explained that it was "53 square feet in diameter." I read that Foster grew up in Pittsburgh, PA, and never got close to the Suwanee River, so I asked Marlene why he romanticized slavery so often in his music. She told me that he tried writing other kinds of songs, but the ones about the South made money, so he reverted to "Ethiopian verbiage."

Marlene led us outdoors so we could hear the beautiful carillon playing.
When these bells ring, my Christian burro brays.
Your Christian burro?
Yes ma'am! He's got a cross down his back just like Mary.

She and my mother hit it off right away, and began to talk about Jacksonville, from which they had both escaped. Marlene was horrified at the memory of the city: Children working at Pizza Hut, and death all around! For eight full years, this has been our shorthand for urban decay.

Squawmama provides a favorable and unsnarky review of the lovely park and the (now surely) more culturally-sensitive museum.

We celebrated the first day of Summer by floating down a cold, lazy river in inner tubes. More later. We want to go back.

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Brenda A. said...

So.....is a Christian burro anything like a Christian ass??? Oh just send me to hell right now and get it over with already....I am so doomed for saying that!

¡Vizcacha! said...

HAHA! I'll save you a seat.

Sherry said...

Stephen Foster?? Not so much but floating down a lazy river to celebrate the Summer Solstice. Now that's a big GO!!


¡Vizcacha! said...

Yeah, I thought we made the right call there!

Anonymous said...

Stephen Foster Park is one of the most surreal things we saw in FL, esp with those tunes ringing out on the carillon every hour or so. It's got some lovely local crafts tho' and apparently a gorgeous Christmas light show.

Are you guys heading up north there? If so, don't miss The Forgotten Coast
(our FAV place in all of FL!!). St. Joseph State Park is a good base for it, or there's boondocking in the nearby Apalachicola Forest.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Nina, "surreal" is the right word. We kept looking at each other, begging for reassurance. We did buy something at the gift shop, though. :D

YES! I've been scoping out the Apalachicola NF for likely spots. I needs me some ocean. Your description sounds wonderful, and we would love to hang out with nobody.

O. B. Sirius said...

I kept reading SFM as FSM (Flying Spaghetti Monster) but once I figured it out I realized the two are very, very far apart.

¡Vizcacha! said...

Or ARE they? [All praise his Noodly Appendage!].