I was in Louisiana a while back and did the touristy thing of touring all the plantations - at least the ones in the brochure. Some of them, Oak Alley in particular, was beautiful and stately and worthy of all the praise heaped on it when it appeared in "Gone with the Wind". I took the requisite image of the mansion from the far end of the walk (which used to be dirt, of course). It looks like a postcard.
These sad buildings made for some wonderful imagery. However, what really shocked me when I saw the resulting images, was not the sad state they were in, but how proud they were. These abandoned, neglected buildings oozed pride. Weird, right? Somehow, if you look really hard, you can see the people who lived there and how hard they worked and how much they took pride in what they did - regardless of the task. And they did it without all the modern conveniences we have today. Certainly no easily accessible cameras with which to record their day-to-day lives. They were people, plain and simple, trying to make a go of it in times when it was so much harder than it is today to eek out a living and take care of their family.
So, the next time I'm in Louisiana, I'm going to pretend to be a tourist again, take another tour of the plantations, do the appropriate ooooing and ahhhing, and see if I can get a few more prideful images of the now abandoned buildings and the emotional connection I received from these. It was an experience like no other and an incredible gift.
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