The Souvenir

Cast Bronze, 2008
12" X 14" X 48"

She jus' so purty, standin' dere holdin' a book wid a pitcher in it, movin' it back an' forth jus' like she fannin' herself. But she not. She jus' wonts folks to look at de image o' sorrow she been carryin' in her heart. Her pappy spent lotsa money on dem girls, keepin' 'em dressed up right nicely an' fine, so peoples will always respec' and look up to dem. She walked through town on a cane she had to use, cuz her leg was burnt up in a fire. Now the story goes dis way.

Hyar in dis here town of Mistah Abe Lincoln, called Springfield, dere was a bad race riot--yep, dat's what I said, a race riot. Mo' like a race war den anything I could think of. Now let me get on to tellin' it de way I seed it. Dey say dat dis here cullud fella raped a white woman, plus at de same time, dere was a black man already in jail for killin' a white man. Now none o' dis stuff was proved at de time, but de white peoples was all whipped up in a frenzy like a bunch o' mad bees. In other words, dey was gonna hang demselves somebody, and that was gonna be a cullud man. Lawd, dey came down de street and 'round the corner wid sticks and bricks and everythin'. Dere purpose was to run all de cullud peoples outta Springfield--de lan' o' Lincoln. Dey started burnin' things, and turnin' over automobiles an' tearin' up things that belonged to some o' de well-off Negroes, makin' sure dey never get back what dey had before. This went on for long time--dey even had to call in de militia to hold de peace. Mmmm-hmm. Dose sho' was some dark days here in de capitol.

After everythin' cooled down a bit, here comes Miss Alberta, walkin' down the street with her cane, jus' as big as she please, carryin' dis ole pitcher o' her daddy. Y'see dis was a pitcher from some o' dem souvenir peoples, de ones dey sell all over de place, cuz peoples like pitchers of darkies hangin' from trees, dontcha know. Yeah, dat was her daddy, de one dat clothe and feed some of the very white boys dat hung 'im. I 'spect dey was so bloodthirsty and hungry for killin' dat it didn't matter nohow. And dat was de way it was in them terrible days.