The Carvings on Stone Mountain, #6

Alice Campbell, 1912

Alice Campbell Stone MountainThis carving is located near the top of the rails to the left as one is ascending the mountain, underneath one of the rock formations.

Alice Campbell, age 21, is listed in the household of her father, William P. Campbell in Stone Mountain on the 1910 census. In the same household is her older brother, Fulton E. Campbell, who’s listed as a laborer and the industry as granite cutter, so it’s likely he worked in the quarry at Stone Mountain and did the carving. Other records at Ancestry list Alice’s date of birth as 9 April 1890. On 5 January 1913, Alice married Andrew Nash in Fulton County.

Alice and Fulton’s parents were William Parks and Amanda Jane (Cash) Campbell, who were married in DeKalb County, GA on 26 October 1876, and both of whom are buried at Rehoboth Cemetery in Tucker. William Parks Campbell was listed as a butcher or the owner of a meat market on the census from 1900 to 1920. In 1930, he’s listed as a farmer, and his industry is listed as truck farm.

I have not found a burial record for Alice Campbell Nash or Andrew Nash. There’s a Social Security claim for Alice Campbell Nash dated May, 1937 and this is the latest record I found on her.

Fulton Earnest Campbell can be found in his father’s household on the 1880, and 1900 through 1930 census and in 1910 and 1930 he’s listed as a stone cutter or granite cutter. In 1920, he appears to be working for his father, as his profession is salesman in a meat market. His World War I draft card lists his date of birth as 17 October 1877, and provides the description that he has brown eyes and black hair, and is tall and stout. He lists his profession as a butcher. The Georgia Death Index lists his date of death as 7 December 1958.

Bruce L. Karr & Joan P. Karr, Undated, and Bruce Karr, Undated

Bruce L Karr & Jean P Karr Stone MountainThese are relatively recent carvings. I didn’t note the exact location of them other than they’re along the walk-up trail. My memory is that the carving for the couple is near where the Cherokee Trail intersects the walk-up trail, in an area without much tree cover.

Bruce Lynnwood Karr was born 30 June 1939 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and died 27 January 2015 in Blairsville, GA. There is a public record at Ancestry showing him with a Stone Mountain address in 1993, and his obituary at Find a Grave lists that he served in the Navy. In 1940, he’s found on the census in the home of his grandfather, John Husband with his parents Harold M. Karr and Ada Karr. The carvings are undated, but given the year of his birth, they were probably done in the 1980s or 1990s. Since he’s contemporary and has a rather extensive obituary posted at Find a Grave, I’ll direct people to that, rather than reprint it here. I could not find information on Jean P. Karr, and this is not his widow’s name in the obituary.

Bruce Karr Stone Mountain

Atlanta Transitional 

As an Atlanta native, I always find it interesting to read lists of places or activities which characterize denizens of the city, many of which I have little or no familiarity with. Lenox Square Mall, for instance, is cited as the place Atlantans shop, but it wasn’t until I was in high school or college and driving places on my own that I went there on a regular basis, and then it was largely to buy records. Living in West End and East Point, I frequented Lakewood and Greenbriar Malls, later Southlake, and, to a lesser extent, Shannon Mall. The same is true of Buckhead, where I didn’t hang out regularly before mid- to late-college. Virginia Avenue and Old National Highway were the party spots for my friends and I in high school. To the best of my knowledge, I have never been inside the Clermont Lounge. At the time I’d have been most likely to go, in college in the eighties, that part of Ponce was considered very dangerous, particularly for foot traffic. I also cannot recall eating at the Mary Mac, even though I’m distantly related to the family of the former owner of it and despite the fact that I have been to the Krispy Kreme doughnuts across the street. Living south of town, it always required a special trip to get to that part of Atlanta, and there were lots of southern style eateries in between.

When I was born, Carl Sanders was governor of Georgia and Ivan Allen, Jr. was mayor of Atlanta. It was against the law for blacks and whites to eat in the same restaurant in town; desegregation didn’t happen until July of that year. In sports, the Atlanta Crackers was the main professional sports team in town. Within my lifetime, Atlanta acquired the Braves, the Falcons, and the Hawks; acquired then sold the Flames and Thrashers. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium was built, then demolished, as was the Omni. I also experienced first hand the “white flight” of the early- to mid-seventies.

While not much of a sports fan, I followed the Braves as a child. Despite all their success in the nineties, in my youth the team had a reputation for being lovable losers. They had great individual players such as Dale Murphy and Phil Niekro, but were rarely able to pull together enough wins as a team to make it to the post season. I attended games in the seventies where we were happy if they won that particular game, let alone the pennant. An entire generation of Atlantans has now grown up with the Braves as the powerhouse contenders they were throughout the nineties.

Growing up in Atlanta, I learned not to get too attached to specific places because they might not be there next time I visited. The Atlanta that people who relocated here in the seventies remember was built over top of the Atlanta I knew as a young child. At one point, the Polaris restaurant, the blue dome at the top of the Hyatt Regency, was one of the tallest structures in the city; now, one must be downtown to see it. Whenever I was traveling South on Peachtree Street in high school or early college, I frequently used the Coke sign at the intersection of Ivy Street to navigate. Once, I got a friend home from there to East Point within ten minutes, despite the traffic. Now, not only is the Coke sign no longer there, Ivy Street was renamed Peachtree Center Avenue in the nineties.

I attended Georgia State University from 1982 through 1987 and usually commuted by bus, as the south line of MARTA was under construction during that time. Before I graduated, Lakewood station opened and my bus, 72 Airport, was rerouted there. At the time, GSU was confined to the central campus downtown. We didn’t have a football team, and the basketball program wasn’t much to speak of either. There were no dorms, and the now heralded law school was in it’s infancy. Since I graduated, the university has expanded throughout the city, has a football program and the campus downtown has added numerous buildings either through purchase or construction. Riding past it on MARTA, I’m still able to recognize most of the campus but there are many new buildings I don’t recall from my time there.

I moved to New York in 1989 and moved back to Atlanta in 1994, two years before the Olympics were held here. In those five years, in preparation for the Games, the city changed greatly. Streets were renamed, businesses closed, buildings were demolished and replaced by new ones. MARTA completed the line out to the airport and rerouted, renamed, or discontinued several bus lines I had used. Even though I visited during the holidays, I wasn’t spending much time traveling around mapping out how the city was changing. By the time I got back and started looking for work, I hardly recognized the place. When I left, for instance, Rio Mall had just opened with much fanfare, and by the time I returned, it was already in decline. Once the Games were over, many of the sporting venues were packed up and moved elsewhere. People who knew me around that time found it amusing that I’d sometimes get lost navigating around town, mainly because of all the changes to a city that was already difficult to navigate in the first place.

I served as president of the Atlanta Junior Chamber of Commerce, or Jaycees, from May, 1997 until April, 1998 and in my plan for the upcoming year, I noted that one of the problems we faced in maintaining a community service organization in Atlanta was the transient nature of our population. Most members at that time had been in town less than five years and would not be here five years after. Most were unmarried, apartment or condo owners, with no solid connection to the community. Most were upwardly mobile professionals, who spent a lot of time at work and in their off-time didn’t want to manage projects, an activity which characterizes many Jaycee chapters. When I joined, I heard the chapter referred to as Atlanta’s largest dating service, and found this to be an apt description in some respects. Our members were more interested in social outings which introduced them to places or activities where they could unwind, enjoy themselves, and meet new people. While we did have a contingency of members with roots in the community, and those who were interested in community service, this did not represent a large segment of the membership. A fair number of people attended a function, joined the chapter, and afterward we never saw them again, or they joined, became active, then were relocated by their employers to another town. Needless to say, membership turnover was always a problem.


Statue of Henry W. Grady, Marietta Street at Forsyth.

Transition has always been a central part of Atlanta’s story. Perhaps the most infamous example of this was in September of 1864, when Sherman’s troops set fire to it as they were beginning their march to the sea during the Civil War. At that point, the city was not much more than the confluence of rail lines which made it an important transportation hub. Now three major Interstates converge in downtown Atlanta and its airport is the busiest in the country. In his speech, The New South, Henry W. Grady extolled the virtues of Atlanta, “…we have built a brave and beautiful city; that somehow or other we have caught the sunshine in the bricks and mortar of our homes, and have builded therein not one ignoble prejudice or memory.” Very good propaganda for northern financiers looking for reliable investments. It also highlights Atlanta’s place as a slightly different southern metropolis, the cultural and economic regional hub it would be for the next hundred plus years. Looking at archival photos of Atlanta throughout its history, one is immediately struck by its radical transformation throughout time; from the railroad lines which gave Five Points its name to the sprawling economic center which gobbled up its former suburbs as it expanded. When I was in high school, people in Marietta and Sandy Springs bristled if one said they were from Atlanta and now, people born there regularly claim to be native Atlantans. With the influx of outside the perimeter (OTP) folks into town, not to mention transplants and immigrants from all over, the development of the Beltline, and the rise of the film industry in Georgia, it seems the only constant in Atlanta is change.

Fun with Photoshop: Skulls

Today’s subject is a foam skull I purchased the last time the Georgia Shakespeare Festival performed Hamlet. I photographed it on my dining table, using just the overhead lights and natural lighting from the window. The tabletop has an interesting design that provided a nice backdrop. I edited it with some filters in Photoshop Express.


The original image, cropped.


Processed with the Reverse (Negative) filter.


Once I had the negative image, I ran it through some other filters.


Negative, processed with the Silvered filter.


Negative, with the Dappled filter.


Negative, with the Dream filter.


Negative, with the Glow filter.


Then I took the Glow image and processed with some further filters.


Negative, Glow, with the Haze filter.


Negative, Glow, with the Superpunch filter.


Negative, Glow, with the Contrastpunch filter,


Amazing what a little photo processing can do.

Biological Imperative 

Celebration sculpture by Gary Lee Price

Detail from Celebration, sculpture in Decatur Square, Decatur, GA; artist Gary Lee Price.

In Genesis, the first humans are instructed to be fruitful and multiply. Given that the human population now exceeds seven billion individuals, one could assume humans took that instruction to heart. Along the way, the transition from hunter gathers, where the population was constantly on the move, to an agrarian society where everyone stays put, no doubt helped humans in this goal. Development of technology and industry, advances in medicine, and improvements in our diet also played a part, and for that, we have our advanced brains to thank. Had our ancestors not begun to walk upright, which freed their hands to allow for tool making, which, in turn led to the the development of our brains, we might still be swinging in trees, rather than building skyscrapers, unraveling our genetic code, and planning a trip to Mars. Humans have done such a good job of distancing ourselves from our primate past that we’ve created numerous myths of divine origin to explain where we came from rather than accepting what the evolutionary evidence tells us. 

In the film The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, Robin Williams plays a king who can detach his head from his body. Connected, he’s course and vile, and enslaved by his animal instincts, but detached, he’s thoughtful and contemplative and fully intellectual. Many people like to believe humans operate as essentially rational creatures, guided by common sense, and ignore the many, many times humans behave in ways contrary to rational behavior. Nowhere is this more evident than in the area of attraction and the dating rituals humans devise for finding and choosing a mate. People spend much time and many words trying to explain why they are attracted to certain people and not to others, or why a particular relationship didn’t work out, attempting to conceptualize the instinctive biological imperitive to survive and procreate. Applying too much rationality to reproductive behavior can have other implications relevant to the continuation of the species.

One of the consequences to increasing intelligence is that humans can become focused on other creative endeavors and begin to override the biological imperative by either delaying or simply refusing to reproduce for a variety of reasons. The religious sect known as the Shakers was an example of a community who practiced celibacy, even between married couples, and chose to grow by recruiting new members rather than via the traditional route of having children. They found alternate means, such as weird dances and building distinctive furniture, as a way of channeling their creative impulses away from their sexual desires and, as a result, all that remains of their community, aside from a few later converts who may still practice the lifestyle, is the furniture they created. The sect, by and large, went extinct when the last of its stalwarts died off during the twentieth century.

Typically, the higher up the economic ladder one moves, the fewer children one has. In an agrarian society where many individuals are needed to perform the necessary work, larger family sizes are advantageous to effectively create the workforce a family would require. In my genealogical work, I’ve seen families with as many as eighteen to twenty children, though not all by the same mother. For those living in cramped urban settings, large families are less of an advantage, though they can be found there as well. Equally so, given the risks inherent in childbearing, expecting a single woman to bear numerous children over a relatively short period of time can be dangerous for both the woman and her offspring. There’s a reason why the mortality rate for women and infants was so high in colonial times besides the lack of adequate pre- and postnatal care available. 

While a change in thinking can alter the desire to have children, we have yet to overcome a simple fact of reproduction. In order for there to be a child, there has to be a contribution from a man and a woman regardless of whether the two have sex. Neither gender can produce a child solely on its own. There has been talk of fusing genes or chromosomes, or otherwise cloning a person to overcome this situation, but as of now, science has yet to produce a human child using this method. The fundamentalist claim that homosexuals can’t reproduce doesn’t take into account the fact that both parents no longer need to be present at the moment if conception. Perhaps this is another reason the far right hates science so much. 

War of Words 

For centuries, those attempting to manipulate the public conscience have understood that appealing to emotions or instincts is far more effective than appealing to intellect. The advertising industry makes a fortune each year manipulating the audience’s emotions to sell everything from coffee and toothpaste, to candidates for all levels of public office. In his review of Mein Kampf, George Orwell points out that Hitler won the hearts and minds of his people by appealing to their inherent need for struggle and sacrifice to return Germany to its former glory. In the old South, those in power recognized that poor blacks and whites had more in common with one another than with the wealthy and greatly out-numbered elite, and cultivated the myth of white supremacy to keep the races from establishing common ground. It didn’t change the status of poor whites — they were still just as oppressed and exploited as before — but it made them feel superior and that served the purpose of the ruling elite.

Today, we have an entire mass market industry dedicated to keeping people ignorant, uninformed, and conditioned to follow predetermined prompts to react, either by consuming certain products, voting for candidates with narrow ideologies, or expressing outrage in other, less potent forms, such as meaningless polls, petitions, or public demonstrations. It’s ironic that a large portion of the people who failed to vote in 2014 instead spent their time and efforts creating Internet memes or filing online petitions, none of which have any demonstrable effect on the process while ignoring a guaranteed method of effecting change through the ballot box. The media is of little assistance, on one hand telling us how important it is to vote, all the while dismissing candidates as unelectable due to lack of party allegiance, or by skewing elections with endless polls and analysis favoring a particular candidate. The modern mass media is, in fact, the fulfillment of Orwell’s worst nightmare, as outlined in his work Politics and the English Language, making lies sound truthful, murder respectable, and giving an appearance of solidity to the wind.

In this environment, words become almost meaningless and knowledge becomes a commodity to be traded for political advantage. Everyone claims exclusive access to “the truth” and barters this knowledge in exchange for unceasing devotion to a cause or candidate. People feel marginalized and latch on to the person or group who best assigns blame for the cause of those feelings. The result is increasing polarization as each group fights to promote its version of the “real” story. This situation is nothing new. Most “revealed” religions begin with an individual or group claiming some sort of “divine” inspiration, then offering to share it in exchange for followers. Make no mistake, all religions are political, and those that do the best job of adapting their message to the needs of the power elite are often the ones which become prominent in society regardless of how truthful they are.

The Gnostics, who were the chief rivals to the emerging Christian church in the second and third centuries of the Christian era, believed humans were trapped in their earthly bodies, and it was only through specialized knowledge or gnosis that they could escape. Christian Gnostics believed that Jesus had supplied such knowledge through secret teachings to his closest followers. Jesus himself is quoted in the Gospels as saying that he speaks in parables to the masses and reveals the true meaning only to his inner circle of disciples. Many of the Gnostic texts which managed to survive are allegorical and couched in paradoxical language that would seem confusing to someone not familiar with how to read it. To the uneducated masses, the simple and adaptable message of the Christian Church was much easier to understand than the complicated word play of the Gnostics, and those who were initiated into the mysteries felt no need to share their secret insights with an unreceptive audience.

Much of the writing of the Gnostics was dismissed as heretical by the early Church and destroyed after the Catholic Church won the battle for primacy in the West, though remnants found their way into the Christian canon, notably in the Gospel of John and the Apocalypse or Revelation of John (“I am Alpha and Omega; the first and the last”). One might suggest that because the Catholic Church survived and the Gnostics didn’t, the Church’s beliefs must have been right, but it’s equally true to observe that it’s easier for a given set of beliefs to survive with the force of an empire behind it. The fact that the rise of Christianity yielded two official churches, the Orthodox Church in the East and the Catholic Church in the West, each with its own orthodoxy and interpretation of the Bible, demonstrates that there was not unanimous agreement on the truth, even after the Gnostics had been eliminated.

In today’s society, an increasingly marginalized population finds many avenues by which to vent their anger and frustration, some more appropriate than others. One such area is the English-only movement which seeks to establish English as the official language of the United States and to require all newcomers to learn English as part of their paths to citizenship. More extreme elements of this movement want to prohibit those whose first language isn’t English from being able to speak another language in public. These notions totally ignore the reality that, South of our borders and in our commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Spanish is the predominant language, and North of us is a large province which speaks French. Canada is a bilingual nation and hasn’t suffered by being thus. To combat the idea that we should adopt a single language as our official tongue, appealing to the altruism of those demanding this change is useless. In fact, one of the arguments is that they should not have to learn another language simply to accommodate newcomers.

Perhaps a better way to convince someone of the advantages of being bilingual would be to appeal to his or her selfish nature and the need people have for specialized insight. Rather than making it about accommodating someone else, the altruistic goal, we should frame the argument in terms of giving the individual an edge over another person. Children are more likely to be convinced by an appeal to their need for fairness and helping others, but their parents, who vote for the politicians who regularly vote against language studies and other “non-essential” programs like music and theatre in schools, would need to be better acquainted with the advantages they and their children can gain from such studies. It should be stressed that it’s easier and quicker to learn a new language than it would be for legislation to churn its way through the mechanism of government, given the many hurdles it would face, plus those who have this advantage would be able to spring it on some unsuspecting foreigner at any moment. Presumably, at some point, the joy of being able to communicate will override the selfish need to spy on another conversation.

Words have always been used to achieve political ends, and the more obscure the presentation, the less likely individuals are to become engaged. The result is a population that’s alienated, marginalized, and disconnected to the functions of society. So far, our “leaders”, who greatly benefit from this state of affairs, have shown little inclination to change. It’s time to turn the tide and demand more from those who are supposed to be protecting our interests. With a little ingenuity and resourcefulness, we can win this war of words.