Archive for March, 2014

In Search of William Starr Basinger. Or: The Oysters Go to Athens

March 18, 2014

Sugar decided that we would take fresh May River oysters to his cousin in Tennessee.  That was a grand plan, except for one small issue:  we were leaving on a Saturday and would not see his cousin until Tuesday.  Uck.

We did not eat seafood when I was growing up.  The closest thing we got to fish was catfish or salmon croquettes.  Catfish, some might argue, is hardly a fish, but rather a bottom feeder.  Fried catfish is quite delicious, but I was so worried about bones.  It’s such a bony fish, and must be chewed well to ferret out the bones.  And fried salmon croquettes were greasy and not a favorite of mine, even today.  They might actually be delicious if I tried them again, but I just remember the ones that my mother made, rarely, from canned salmon.  Uck.

I’d eaten fried oysters in a restaurant, and they were chewy and rubbery.  I didn’t see how fresh oysters could be any better, because they’re OYSTERS.  Right?  Right.

There’s a seafood market in our little town, and we went by to check out their selection.  Yes, they had fresh oysters, BUT.  Sugar wanted May River oysters.  He grew up on the May River, and when he asked the clerk if they had May River oysters, the man said yes, right here.  The container of oysters had an address of Trask Parkway, which is definitely not on the May River, and is probably about 45 minutes away.  Y’all see how this is going to play out.

Sugar called the Bluffton Oyster Company to inquire about the life of a fresh oyster in a cooler traveling to Tennessee.  The nice man answering the phone told him that fresh oysters will keep for 10 days on ice.  Apparently the phrase “ON ICE” is a critical element, and Sugar was convinced that we could do it.

So I set off for the Bluffton Oyster Company on a Saturday morning.  Wait, what, you say?  Saturday?  But you are not leaving until Sunday!  That’s right, I had a small window to pick up oysters before I went to work at Saturday noon, and then we were leaving early Sunday morning.

The next dilemma arrived in the form of quantity.  How many fresh oysters should we get?  I have no clue, and can’t even offer an opinion.  Sugar thought that we should get two quarts, no, make that three quarts.  Those of you who know how much three quarts of oysters actually is probably just got wide-eyed right about here.  Turns out it’s a boatload, pardon the pun.

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This old cabin across the way is being remodeled and renovated.

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Another amazing live oak. I can’t stop taking photos of live oaks.

When I got to work, I took the 3 quarts of oysters, on ice, into the building and stashed them in the refrigerator, and wrote a note to myself not to forget them.

*****

Yay, me, I didn’t forget them, and even if I had, I’d be making a trip back to work.  We set off for Athens, Georgia, and the University of Georgia, by way of the back roads.  I suppose I should make a google map, if for no other reason than to prove that I can do it.  Make a map, that is.

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We arrived in time for a late lunch, and found the Pita Pit where we’d eaten years ago.  Since we have now eaten there twice, we have established a tradition, and apparently we’ll have to eat there every time we visit.

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Yup, still cold. We had the advantage that the weather was cold from the effects of the storm Titan.

We drove around a bit, in a mood of nostalgia for Sugar, for he went to school here and has the diploma to prove it.  He saw a place that he remembered, and thought perhaps that it might have been there when his mother went to UGA.  It looked like just the kind of fine dining we needed.

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Yes, it does look like a warehouse, doesn’t it?  It is a burger joint with nary an organic item on the menu.  I wish that I’d had the camera with me, but we scored some cool paper hats.

Of course, when we got back to our room, Sugar was hungry in half an hour.  I’d brought along a loaf of whole-grain bread and some organic coconut & peanut butter spread.  He ate two sandwiches, and then we saw an unidentified insect-like something on the table.

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We poked and prodded at the little husky thing and wondered if we had discovered a new form of bedbug, when we realized that it was a seed from the whole-grain bread.  Vision is a wonderful thing.

*****

And now it’s Monday, and the oysters are still good.  Sugar babysat them often, and added ice when necessary.

It was time for a Sugary tour of the campus, and we set off to find where Uncle Charlie’s house was.

Later in their life, William Starr Basinger and his wife Margaret Roane Garnett Basinger lived on campus with their daughter Margaret Amelia and her husband Charles Morton Strahan.  Charlie was an engineer, and he designed several buildings and architectural features on the campus.

When Sugar used to walk to campus, he would pass along this stone wall, and he’d see chipmunks scampering about, foraging at waist-high level.

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No chipmunks today. Nothing but a sweet memory.

First we went to a building that Uncle Charlie designed.

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And a little further along the quad, we saw this marker.

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Old College

Built in 1806 by Jett Thomas to the specifications of college

president Josiah Meigs.  Old College was the first permanent

building on the University of Georgia campus.  Originally

named Franklin College in honor of Benjamin Franklin, the

building served as housing, dining, and classroom facilities

for the fledgling University.  As the campus grew the

building came to be known as Old College.  Condemned as

structurally unsound by 1906, the building was largely rebuilt

and rededicated in 1908 at the behest of preservation-minded

alumni.  During World War II, Old College was utilized as

barracks by the U.S. Navy.  In recognition of the buildin’s

significance, a full rehabilitation was completed in 2006 in

observation of its bicentennial.

We walk a little further along the quad.  Across the way, we see Uncle Charlie’s house.

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Yes, Uncle Charlie’s house was torn down to build the Law Library.  Ah, sadness.  It’s a bit soothing to know that William Starr Basinger, an actual attorney lived at this spot, but only a bit.

Next, Sugar wants to look at his hall where he studied history.

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This was the furthest location of our route around campus, and as we headed back, he commented again about the Lustrat house.

This shot is taken across the quad, and I crouched down to include the greenery.

This shot is taken across the quad, and I crouched down to include the greenery.

His uncle Edward went to the University of Georgia, and family stories say that he spent time at the Lustrat house, enjoying their company and speaking French.

A bit further along, is a place that made history.  Uncle Charlie designed the connecting architecture that linked two separate buildings, but that’s not the historical part.

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HOLMES/HUNTER

ACADEMIC BUILDING

*****

On January 9, 1961,

Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter

became the first two African American students

to enroll at the University of Georgia

when they walked past the historic Arch

and into this building to register for classes.

On this day, January 9, 2001,

as part of the 40th Anniversary celebration

of the desegregation of the University,

we salute the courage and fortitude

displayed by these students

and their families in paving the way

for others to follow.

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We’re just about ready to leave campus, when suddenly I realize that William Starr Basinger’s journals are in the archives here.  HERE.  Right HERE.

Do we have time to go to the library?  Are we ever going to come back here?

Yes, we go to the library and speak to the reference desk librarian, who directs us to another building and shows us the logistics on a handy map.  Which clinches our decision that we have to press onward to North Georgia, because, really, if we go to the archives, we will spend all flippin’ day.  Sugar already has his great-grandfather’s journals, transcribed and in book form, but we just thought we might go gaze upon his handwriting.  So, another day.

As fortification for the journey, because we are pioneers and all, we stop at a coffee shop on the way back to the van.

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Sugar asked me, right about here, “Did you just take a picture of our coffee?”

Well, duh, all the bloggers take photos of their food.  After all, if you had an opportunity to see into the everyday life of your ancestors, wouldn’t you want to do it?  Wouldn’t you want to see their plates, and their hands, and their thoughts?  That’s right, I thought so.

Onward the oysters.

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In Search of William Starr Basinger, or Sugar Plans a Vacation

March 13, 2014

Sugar wants to go on a trip.  He has pestered me to death about going on a trip.  I suggest that we just get in the car.  He has different plans.

He wants to go on a Basinger pilgrimage.  Yes, can you believe that there is one left?  After all, we’ve gone all over Savannah, looking at cemetery plots and locations of former homes and businesses.  We’ve been to the library.  We’ve talked to Starr cousins.  We went to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library and viewed the William Starr Basinger collection.  We’ve been to Amelia County, Virginia, to Mattoax to see where he met his wife Margaret Roane Garnett, and then on to Richmond to see where the family home “The Oaks” was moved.  Yes, it seems there is some unfinished business.

So the trip is planned that we will go to the University of Georgia at Athens to walk the campus and see where Uncle Charlie’s house used to be, then on to Dahlonega to see if we can find the location of William Starr Basinger’s home, and then an additional spur into Sewanee, Tennessee, to see a Basinger cousin with an extra attempt to find out more about Sugar’s father’s father who went to school at Sewanee.

Have you ever traveled by car with fresh seafood in a cooler?  For days, like, traveled FOR DAYS with seafood in a styrofoam cooler.  Me, either.  And we lived to tell about it.

Off to the Graveyard, Part 4, Or: Aluminum Foil Hats, Anyone?

March 1, 2014

We’re back.

This week we are better equipped with better brushes and determination.

Sadly, neither help us produce better images.

In the interest of putting this project behind us, here are the images.

We start with George B. Cumming to see if we can link him to Montgomery and Wallace Cumming who are buried in the Alexander/Porter/Read/Houston plot.

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Great images, but we still don’t know the relationship.

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Susie Cumming Mann is mentioned in her father’s obituary. It’s somewhere on this blog. I’ll find it – later – and provide a link.

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Across from the Cumming – Hunter plot, a tree has overtaken the marker and the fence.

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Here’s George B. Cumming’s marker again.

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Now we’re back at the Alexander plot where we first started the aluminum foil adventure, and I notice the inscription that was almost buried, then I noticed the faint inscription that said “Infant Son”. This is the infant son of Mary Houston Read and Isaac Wood Read.

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This is Harriett Virginia Alexander who married Wallace Cumming.

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This is Wallace Cumming who lies next to his wife Harriett Virginia Alexander Cumming.

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“HE DELIVERED THE POOR THAT CRIED AND HIM THAT HAD NONE TO HELP HIM.
THE BLESSING OF THEM THAT WERE READY TO PERISH CAME UPON HIM.”

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“THOU SHALT LIE DOWN AND THY SLEEP SHALL BE SWEET
FOR HE SHALL GIVE HIS ANGELS CHARGE OVER THEE.”

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So okay.  That’s it.  I quit.  We quit.  Fire us.

We drive to another section where Sugar cut back the crepe myrtles last year to check on them.  They look fine, and are going to come back.  (Do other people phrase stuff like I do?  Do people understand what I mean?  Everything is in context.  If I say the crepe myrtles are going to come back, I don’t mean that they are going out for a drive and then returning.  It’s a bigger general reference to something that appears to be lifeless, but “comes back”.)

We’re driving off, and Sugar sees a Jaudon, so we back up and take photos.  Later he discovers that these Jaudons did originate in Robertville, SC.  ‘Cause he has books and he’s smart and stuff.

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There you have it.  Done in Laurel Grove for a while, even though secretly I want to go alone and transcribe the stone for Louisa Frederick Schmidt Alexander and her sister Dorothea Christina Schmidt Van Yeveren.  It looks like it would take a long time to get it just right, and would require different tools.   I’m just that nosy that I want to know what Bible verse they added at the bottom.

Tomorrow?  Off to North Georgia!  There will be some righting of wrongs, historically speaking, and raw oysters and craft beer, and hopefully no gunfire.