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Crape Myrtle Disappearance

The Calhoun County Museum/Cultural Center is a pretty nifty place, especially when you consider the size of its budget and staff (few dollars and few people). It is the repository for everything memorable that has happened in Calhoun County, and the way director Debbie Roland has managed to put it together so harmoniously is pretty astounding. A recent discovery for me is the hairdryer/chair used by Mrs. Hutto, who came to the United States as a war bride. She prided herself on her three years of instruction, the required course of study for a hairstylist in pre-war Germany. She had a shop at her home next to her husband’s business, Hutto’s Transmission, which to this day features a piece of machinery I suppose is a transmission with a pair of men’s legs coming out of it as its sign. The legs sport a Santa Claus outfit during the holidays.

But back to the Museum, or rather the yearly gala it hosts, which attracts close to 400 people, including many who live away but come back for this annual gathering. My sister by choice, Ruthie Lacey, and I volunteered to decorate, and as the theme was originally “Coming Home,” we chose objects that you see as you drive along the roads of the county.

The old varieties of crape myrtle that don’t grow straight and tall, but rather twist and contort with marvelous lines and are prone to lichens, are seen at abandoned home sites and older places still inhabited. We found a stand at Lake Inspiration (a WPA project) and while standing in the back of Ruthie’s truck managed to cut two of the most perfect, for our use, limbs.

This was on Tuesday morning and as we were going to decorate on Thursday, we decided to leave them behind the Museum, where there isn’t even a driveway – a spot so remote and out of the way that we didn’t feel it necessary to alert staff to our stash.

Ha! We arrived on Thursday to a major outdoor staging with inmates painting wrought iron, supervisors giving directions, the AABC moving company building pilings under the 1820 house just moved to the grounds, and a mow-and-blow fellow putting out red mulch. With a sinking heart, we peered around back to see a blank space, and after subsequent questioning, found that those two exquisitely sculptured, sawn by hand, limbs had been sent to the landfill. Wouldn’t you think that if you knew a party was planned and you found material unrelated to anything in the neighborhood, that had been cleanly cut, not felled by a storm, you might wonder how it happened to be in such a protected and private area?

I’ve always thought those mow-and-blow people were way too tidy.

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