Some Great News! Brooklyn to Harlem has received fiscal sponsorship with Southern Documentary Fund. Check out our project page on their website.
As promised to our backers who helped kickstart the Brooklyn to Harlem Project, coming soon are the postcards and t.shirt rewards. These items will also be available for purchase. We will be unveiling them right here, as soon as they come off the screen and printing press!!! Be on the look out.
We have been grinding away to bring a trailer of the Brooklyn experience to ya! Also, gearing up to get back on the road to a very familiar place to me, NYC- Harlem!
Day 8- We woke and started breaking camp at 5am. Getting back on the road to Charlotte, NC was the agenda for the day. Our only major stop would be in Montgomery for breakfast, a little souvenir shopping, and sightseeing. As it was Good Friday we hoped the Archives and Capital building would be open to visit the gift shops, they were. With the truck loaded we drove along the road that circles the open pond area leading out of the campsite area. The light was breaking through the trees- a beautiful sight.
By the time we hit the interstate I was enjoying a good nod. Sleep was finally catching up to me after the long week filled with adrenaline. I woke just as we hit the county line, and the “Welcome to Montgomery” sign. Funny thing was during most of the ride back to the Queen City (Charlotte) I woke at state signs. I had some great naps. Along with good music and conversations with the guys.
Sleep is great when you’ve worked hard or done your best in a task, project, job or in life. The week spent in Brooklyn, AL was filled with so many highs. It was a lot of work especially for the crew, and there were many gracious gifts given to us in the form of hospitality and encouragement. All that to say it was a satisfying and rewarding trip. There were many images and phrases that I hung on throughout the week, but one that made a marked impression was carved by hand on rough-hewn headstones in the 200-year-old cemetery my great, great great, grandparents, and many other relatives are buried in. The headstones simply read at the top, “Sleep On”…
Its been two and half weeks since we’ve been back and this morning as I’m finally getting caught up with rest and work, I spoke with my great-aunt Esther who met us down in Brooklyn. We were debriefing on the things we’ve learned, and things we need to continue with in piecing the family genealogy together. As we were ending the conversation she said, I just want you to know “I think what your doing is great… I’m proud of you, and I know Mama would be too. Today I looked at my devotion and realized it’s April 25th… Mama would be 115 years old…”
Thank you to my Aunt Esther, for being our Family Historian all these years, and for your encouragement.
Happy Birthday GrandMa! (Lucille Bowie) & “Sleep On”…
Day 7- Conecuh is the county Brooklyn is located in. It’s an Indian Name with many assumed meanings, but the one referenced the most is “Cane Land”. The area has many canebrakes (rods or sticks) lining its streams and rivers.
Our week of shooting was wrapping up, and we were making stops all around Conecuh County on this Thursday. Seeing many of the folks who had made our week so memorable, and meeting new folks who had learned about the film project, by way of the local press or word of mouth. News travels fast in smaller friendlier places.
We visited the renowned Conecuh Sausage factory store www.conecuhsausage.com/default.aspx to pick up a thank you gift for one of our generous supporters. When you walk into Conecuh Sausage the smell makes you immediately hungry, and after trying a sample you will not leave without a purchase of something good and smoked, sausage, turkey, ham or bacon. It’s really that good. Thank you, Roy for reminding me about it.
We headed on back to Brooklyn to shoot some more footage. Notably, we walked down to the river to a spot known as the shoals. It was a long road lined with, canebrakes, foilage and a beautiful tree canopy which envelopes you providing shade and cooling from the heat, and that ends at a bank of the Sepulga River. This is where timber transport from Brooklyn, Alabama to Pensacola, Florida happened way back when that was a thriving industry in Brooklyn.
The spot was serene. A narrow embankment of sand and the water fresh and cool. Although, there are alligators in there, Kent assured me they only come out at night. I was sorta relieved. This was our final shot. It was a wrap on the Brooklyn portion of Brooklyn to Harlem. It was perfect.
We headed out to our farewell dinner at a great spot in Andalusia, Ophielia’s Italian Restaurant. Great food and warm and sincere service. Afterward, we headed back to our camp in the Conecuh National Forest to get organized and pack for our early morning departure around dawn the next day. A light rain fell. It rained on our first night as well, but much heavier. In climbing into my tent for the night, my sentiments were surprisingly not sad or bittersweet. I felt like Brooklyn and Conecuh were places I could truly call home, and so when I come back soon, its dense beauty, my distant relatives, and the places my family lived and worked with grace and dignity will be waiting and welcoming.
Day 6- Family from New York where arriving in Brooklyn today. My Great-Aunt Esther, the youngest of Lucille’s children, and cousin Shelli-Lucille’s granddaughter and her husband Kevin, were meeting me at a relatives house- Roy to head out to the cemetery, church, and the land once in our family. Roy and I sat on the swing at his house on Brooklyn, Rd, and talked and laughed while we waited. He would lead us out to the cemetery and church as he did with just me and the crew a couple of days before. Three generations of my great-grandmothers children were present.
After making all of our stops in Brooklyn, we were off to Brewton in the neighboring county of Escambia, to visit our cousin Blanche. Blanche was born and raised in Brooklyn. At 85 years old what a joy and delight. When asked: “Blanche when was the happiest time in your life?” She said, ”always…”
It was another long and full day of filming, but today was special because it was shared with family. The whole point of this documentary is celebrating and honoring family history, and in doing that gathering as family in the present adds to the recollections, and makes wonderful new memories.
DAY 5- Brooklyn, Alabama sits evenly between the towns of Evergreen and Andalusia. They all have a charm quite their own. Today we were heading into Evergreen to visit the Train station, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, stroll around the historic town, and visit the library and archives. Evergreen is where you traveled to and from by train to come visit Brooklyn in the early part of the 20th century.
After exploring the train station and town it was off to the library for research. The staff genealogist and archivist of Evergreen public library, is a wealth of information, and her passion for uncovering the story of anyones family who comes in looking for assistance is an amazing commitment. It made my experience quite a remarkable one.
Thank you, Sherry!
Day 4- Monday April 2nd. The day started off with excitement, I was looking for my family’s land. We had the map in hand as we made our way out of the Conecuh National Forest on a confident mission.
My ancestors former property 39.97 acres was now on the property of a very kind mans 160 acres. It was natural, preserved and beautiful. A wonderful experience to walk and take in the natural setting, where my family once lived over 100 years ago.
Next, we were off to Feagins Country store to sit down formally on camera with Larry, the owner who invited John the volunteer fire chief to join us. While filming a writer from the Andalusia-Star News arrived for an interview.
And so the day went on much like it started full and exciting. A lot of activity. In the evening we returned to camp to find most of the campers had left. I was a little daunted by that at first, but settled in to a beautiful night. A starry sky, the moon reflecting off of the pond and a nice campfire. It was a good day.