Leaving Austin, Waxahachie and Dallas

7/5/11 – The George Washington Carver branch library in Austin had an astonishing mural on the outside by John Fisher. It was dedicated to “Those That Did Not Survive the Middle Passage”. It is one of the first library murals depicting African slavery that we have seen in the Old South. We were sad to leave Austin after just one night. Driving northeast we encounter the pine covered hills of East Texas for the first time. We came to another “*” library in Bryan. It had a spectacular Carnegie that was a gem. While photographing the inside I asked the very polite African-American librarian what she thought of all the ConfederateĀ  memorabilia in the library. She said that she was very interested in history and that it was a part of history. Her guarded answer was fascinating. We tried to find a Carnegie library in Franklin but for the firs time our iPhone Google search failed. We have become dependent on this technology and we are astonished when it doesn’t work. We look for another library in Bremond and again our iPhones couldn’t locate the library. I pull out the list we had created earlier doing our research and found the correct address. It’s good to have an analog backup. The Hillsboro library is also a gem but the light was totally wrong. By waiting a few minutes for the clouds to cover the sun I get the shot and can slightly cool off. We end the day in Waxahachie , south of Dallas which has a beautiful old library. We luck out by arriving during the one evening a week they are open. After my usual introduction the librarians direct me to see the large auditorium upstairs. I step into a big room and all the the heads turn. It turns out it is a meeting of the Toastmasters Club. These are sometimes shy people that will have to do public speaking and the club helps polish their speaking. I feel very awkward setting up my large camera in front of these nervous people but everything went well and after I take the photo I quietly slip out the back.

7/6/11 – We decide to sleep in a little today. The non-stop pace is catching up with us and our sleep is more like passing out. We are still drinking our Marthas Coffee from San Francisco in our motel rooms. Best coffee in the universe. We drive into the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. It is one of the largest cities on our trip and we head straight to the Ft. Worth airport and pick up Walker’s best friend Nick Neumann. From here we drive to downtown Ft. Worth. I hadn’t connected earlier with this library but the librarians are very helpful and give me complete access. The library and the art gallery are very beautiful. But this is also the library that took the work “Public” out of its name to “keep up with these times”. As writer David Morris wrote about the Ft. Worth Library “Ft. Worth, you leave me speechless. You’re certainly correct about one thing. The public library is indeed an institution that has not kept up the the times. But given what has happened to our times, whey do you see that as unhealthy? In an age of greed and selfishness, the public library stands as an enduring monument to the values of cooperation and sharing. In an age where global corporations stride the earth, the public library remains firmly rooted in the local community. In an age of widespread cynicism and distrust of government, the 100% tax-supported public library has virtually unanimous and enthusiastic support. This is not the time to take the word “public” out of the public library. It is time to put it in capitals.” We leave the downtown and drive to the Ft. Worth Stockyards next just in time to see a made-for-tourists cattle drive. Nick comes from San Francisco and one of the first things we show him is a cattle drive in the 105 degree heat. Then, back to Dallas for a delightful dinner and stay with old friends Kenda North and Wilson Meader.

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Filed under American Life, art, Greatest Hits, Libraries, Photography, Public Libraries, Road trip, Robert Dawson Library

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