Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A Visit to God's Country
Well, my time in Fayetteville has come to an end. Yesterday, our little party traveled to Willard, North Carolina to finishing up filming for the book trailer and some good photo ops. Dennis and Debbie Walsh, the folks who started us on this journey, Aaron and Mattie Johnson, and me.
To hear Aaron tell it, Willard is God’s Country. Back in his day, Willard was a southern, segregated farming community where his parents sharecropped. They worked on the land owned by the family, the white Johnsons, who owned their ancestors as slaves. Today, a smattering of both sets of Johnsons, black and white, still lives there.
We visited the house where Aaron was born. It has electricity and running water now, but it didn’t in 1933. We sat on the weathered-stain back porch of the small schoolhouse he attended until the eight grade. It was a ‘colored’ school back then, with a wood stove for heat and an outhouse. Paint is peeling off the sides of the modest building now as broken windowpanes flash you a toothless-like grin. But for Aaron, this little building it was a shining star of his past.
We visited the segregated graveyard where his parents and most of his siblings are buried. As I walked through this sunny, but hallowed ground, I felt like I had known all these folks. Aaron had told me so many stories about Miss Cassie and Wille Johnson, his parents, his Aunt Annie, his brothers, Tommy, Lennard, RV and James, and his sister, Bertnita—they’re all there. And, finally, we lingered awhile near the trees where his neighbor, Doc Rogers was killed by the Klan. It was a special day.
Today, I fly home weary but filled up with such gratitude for this experience and this opportunity. I can’t wait to introduce you to Aaron through the book, MAN FROM MACEDONIA- a tale of hope. You will be blessed… trust me. But for now, I pack my bags hurriedly and anxiously await the first sight of my hubby, the love of my life to welcome me back home with tight hug. I can’t wait to step back onto Wisconsin soil and the three little acres of South Moon, our home. It’s time to get back to my family and loved ones. I believe I have some grandbabies coming to visit me this weekend and I can’t wait!