To Calaboose And Back!

Hey Wonderful Listeners!

So today was kind of busy. Though it was Saturday, I still had some things to attend to, mainly seeing to my artwork. By this I meant I had to visit the Calaboose Museum (which is a historic museum that preserves the African-American History of my college town.) But to my surprise, the visit was more fruitful than I originally anticipated.

So, I actually had to go to Hastings this morning before going to Calaboose because I left with the supervisor keys by accident last night. Anyway, I woke up around 9:50 AM and headed over there.

Then once I got back, I walked over to the Calaboose Museum which is just off the town center (which is like at least two miles away.) But I trudged through the heat and got to my destination.

I was a bit heated by my situation. See, I submitted my work to this exhibition that Calaboose was holding but I never received any full confirmation or official documents noting the full itinerary of the exhibit. However, when I was getting things together for this, it was back in May so I was going to be away from the situation for the summer.

Well, after summer ended and I came back to my college town, I still had no communication with them. So I made it a point to go down there and see what was up. My hope was that they didn’t simply run off with my stuff. Because I was going to raise hell if that was the case. >:)

Anyway, I got to Calaboose around 11:30AM and once I got inside, I calmed down immediately. I saw my artwork on the wall and I was immediately happy. Then I only wanted to know when I was going to get it back. But before worrying about that, I took a gander around the museum.

The museum was a small little building, like a hall of some type. I saw so many interesting things that I could have read forever. I mean, I know that the African-American history is subdued to an extent in the United States but we have to keep a record of it somewhere.

So much Black history in one little spot…

But you know, something struck a little fear into me. I saw an actual robe from the Klu Klux Klan, encased in glass. See, I was thinking about how much that robe has seen and what it means and what it did mean in the past. I got scared and I wondered how I would feel if I saw somebody wearing that today. How would I react?

Staring this dead in the face was hard, even for a protect soul like me…

Man it still had blood on it from the last person who wore. So, as you might have guessed, I kinda gaped at it, but in the most hesitant way possible. So I had to walk away at some point.

Then I turned my attention to the art exhibit. It was a nice little selection. Even though I didn’t really know anyone else who made it in, they had nice work. Especially this one graphite drawing. I just loved it so much! I mean, it struck a chord in my childhood because I could relate to what it was depicting.

Well, after taking a gander, I moved to the adjacent room from the one I was standing in. That’s when I ran into Elvin Holt. He was the only man on duty for the museum. He was old too and much shorter than I was. He made me feel like a giant.

But he was entertaining another group. So I looked around the museum some more but rather empty-mindedly. Even though the stuff was interesting, I had only come there for one thing: to see about my artwork. But before I knew it, Elvin had his attention on me.

He gave me a tour of the place. He was telling me about how soap used to be made from lye back in the day and it was made by and with food grease. It was actually interesting. And then I saw some of the donated material in the corner. Most notably, the sack of actual cotton.

If only this picture did it justice. It really doesn’t. But there was cool stuff there!

That cotton bag just made me think. I could only stare at it. I’ve never picked cotton but I understand it’s not a fun process. Honestly, most of the things in the museum were charged and were hard for me to look at fully. It’s interesting how I’m a little scared of my own culture’s history if you will. (After all, it becomes more real when you see first-hand artifacts.)

Yeah, but Elvin continued to show me around. I saw curling irons, hand clippers (which I didn’t know were a thing! How cool is that?!), wash tubs, etc. We moved towards the education section of the museum and I saw the history which was involved with my university. I realized that segregation was real thing (of course I knew this but, you know…) and that individuals did fight for their opportunities.

You know, apparently though, Texas was not as bad as the Deep South (Alabama, Georgia, that area…) was. Texas was a lot more lenient with Blacks (but many struggles were still faced.) And you know, I saw all of the pictures of those who were in this area where the museum was located.

See, my college town was once a bustling predominantly Black neighborhood but things changed as time passed. And all of the photographs I saw of things that happened, were amazing. Even Elvin doesn’t have all the knowledge of who those people were and their significance but the museum continues to collect history of the area.

Eventually, after all was said and done, Elvin and I went back into the other room. We ended up talking with each other about who we were and things like that. I found out that he’s actually an English professor at my university (which was cool!) And I told him about myself.

Elvin’s a nice guy if I ever met one. An incredible man of words.

Funny enough though, in our conversation, we got interrupted by a few people. One of them was Lauren Hofmann. She was looking for people to interview for her radio show that talks about all things about my college town, including history. What happened is that she ended up finding about my artistry and asked me to keep in touch so that I might be invited onto her show someday. (Score! 🙂 )

And then we got interrupted by Niani and her posse. I didn’t know these ladies but Niani asked me about my artwork. She very quickly made the connection of who I was to my pictures. She asked about my work and my inspiration, etc. I answered her questions and we had a lovely conversation. She even wanted to see my website and I directed her there. (My website is under construction by the way…)

But after those people left, Elvin and I continued talking. After finding out about who I was, he asked me to volunteer at the museum sometime. He also pegged me with a lot of questions about photography and what it is and what it can entail. We had a nice long conversation about that too.

But you know, I eventually had to leave because I had other things to do. But you know what? I came to Calaboose to see about one thing and I got so much more out of it. And now I really don’t feel so bad about keeping out of contact with Calaboose. After all, Elvin is the president who runs the place and he’s one of like 4 people. So it’s a small staff of older individuals.

All I can say for sure, is that I had a good time which I was not expecting. And that made me happy. Happy enough to breathe a sigh of relief and go on about my day. I think I wouldn’t mind returning there someday (most likely when I pick up my work.)

But the rest of my day was spent at home really. There was a lot of work I could’ve done (like homework) but I wanted to rest. After all, I got to Calaboose at 11:30AM and got home around 4PM. I was quite tired. But home-made me feel content with life. So I was happy about that.

But that’s my day in a nutshell. Hope you guys enjoyed the tidbit. So until next time, cheers!

Have you ever felt uneasy about your own culture’s history? Are you fascinated by your culture’s history? Leave all your thoughts below!

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