Friday, April 6, 2012

Sarah Lisanick

Sarah Lisanick

"Pick up your wrists," she told me again.
    She nodded her head with the suggested rhythms of the piece I was butchering.  When I blew an accidental and trotted past the legato marks, she circled them and insisted I repeat the surrounding four to six measures until I no longer needed the music. 

    Sarah Lisanick played the piano exquisitely.  She was a bespectacled, short-haired blonde with a love of floral prints and pearls. She taught more than technique; she nurtured the unteachable.

    In the second week of my study with her, she figured out my secret: I was a lazy sight reader. Instead of working out the rhythms and actual notes, I would ask my teacher to play a piece once for me, then I would play it by ear.  I had never progressed in my sight reading abilities because my old teachers hadn't figured out what I was doing.  Mrs. Lisanick nailed it in week two.
    The work of sight reading was excruciating to me.  I think it utilized a part of my brain that would’ve rather been left alone.

    She studied with Béla Bartók.  To me, this makes her something akin to royalty.  In the genealogy of musical training, this makes her my pedigree. 

    My ear pulled away from Beethoven and Chopin; no matter that these are the masters to learn when developing technique, she eschewed them for my sake and brought me Erroll Garner.  She filled my head and ears with Johnny Mercer.  She introduced me to Stephen Sondheim. 
    "You need to work out the counterpoint between the hands.  There is a slight syncopation toward the end of the measures that is truly his signature style."
    "I'm really not seeing it.  Would you?"
    She acquiesced and took the bench. 
    "Right here, and again here.  Once more, and then we repeat."
    And then I played it perfectly, not reproducing her nuance but creating my own.  There is great intelligence in the balance of Sondheim's harmonies, but the beauty of his lines can be devastating.

    I saw her for the last time a few months before she died.  Her ex-husband John had moved back in with her for the end. 
    "It's so sad," he told me.  "All the time we were apart.  Now something wonderful has happened, but it's too late." 
    She looked the same as I remembered; short, blonde hair, large, thick glasses-- except she wore a housecoat instead of the usual florals and pearls.  We sat for tea and I told her that while I was still studying music, I had switched from piano to voice. 
    If she was disappointed, she didn't show it.  I played a bit for her, to prove that I was keeping up with the piano, even if I was no longer studying formally. 

    In every musical experience I carry her mark.  I feel her love of music, I remember her emphasis on interpretation and her rejection of histrionics.  Interpretation, as an art of the musician, crosses the span of all instruments.  In the drift from piano to voice to guitar and around again, I have discovered something fundamentally changed. On the good nights, when the technique is strong and little more than impulse, my hands and throat have become conduits for something greater. Mrs. Lisanick molded me into an instrument.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Down by the River

            Along the RiverWalk is a beautiful and relaxing place called Rotary Park. On one side across the path are four gray concrete picnic tables with two small barbeque pits that are imbedded into the ground. Just behind the tables is a cliff with a line of many tall and bushy green trees blocking the view of the Chattahoochee River.
             Rotary Park is a peaceful place to be. The wind blows making the tree branches shake and creak. You can hear different birds chirping from every direction. A motor boat passes by on the river sending ripples of water to splash near the edges of the cliffs.
             A few feet away, two husky looking men stand on the dock loading their boat into the river with their shiny red truck. Once the men get into their boat, they speed quickly away up the river, laughing.
             On the other side of the path is a big area of green grass thick enough to cover your toes. Lying on the grass is a neon pink frisbee, left behind by people who were enjoying the big space and peaceful scenery.  

The Tower

Standing tall and mighty with grace and honor, the clock strikes eleven and a beautiful melody rings as the heart of the campus beats. With lights shining so bright on it as if being honored; its stable foundation keeps the posture and stamina. Being filled with history and bringing unity to the old and the new, the tower attracts life to it as though it's a star in the sky. Watching moths cling to it like a light and the moon shining down, smiling upon it like it knows a secret. It stands with pride being the highest point on the grounds. It looks down at no one, with red and yellow bricks mixed together, making different levels until reaching the top of the tower.
     The heart of the campus beats slowly, la de la de la de la, as if time slows down to capture each moment and scene. The face with so many eyes sees white, black, yellow, brown, and caramel unite as one to make a society filled with love and change. As the melody ends the clock smiles and waits until it can share its beautiful chime with its family, as it has for many years.

The Hockey Game

The Columbus Civic Center is an enormous building, covered with glass windows and inside there are stairs leading to the second level and concession stands all around. It’s a place where lots of people come together to enjoy a rowdy game. The smell of popcorn and nachos is everywhere and you can feel the coldness as you pass by the ice cream. The people in the long lines waiting patiently for an ice-cold beverage are making friends with the other fans. Faithful Cottonmouth fans wear Cottonmouth jerseys. Little kids walk around carrying snow cones and cotton candy is all over their faces. It feels like winter inside because of the large, white ice rink. Fans are cheering wildly and waving their hands in the air for their team. Fans near the rink bang on the plexiglas. The glass is still rattling even after they stop shaking it. Everyone goes crazy when the opposing team starts to fight.  The crowd gets very excited when the free t-shirts start being thrown over their heads.  As the Cottonmouths win their game, all you can hear is the roaring excitement from the proud and overjoyed fans.

100 Yards

Once you make your way past the Romanesque pillars and the massive bronze soldier statue at the entrance the National Infantry Museum, and pass into this “temple of the grunt,” you'll find a special stretch of exhibits. They're on an inclined pathway.

The slope leads you up, and takes you back in time through a rich military history.

The “Last Hundred Yards” exhibit is a celebration of the heroics of our nation’s infantry. The name is a reference to how these foot soldiers clear out the final line of enemies in battle.

As you make your ascent, you’ll come across dioramas showing some of the great battles of our country’s history, from the American Revolution to the current War in Iraq. The figures in the exhibit are not merely mannequins, but rather casts of active duty soldiers. From antique muskets to state-of-the-art tanks, the displays throughout are genuine, as is the admiration for the bravery of the Infantry.

In 100 yards, we commemorate over 200 years of courage and sacrifice.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Busy Bee

Mom. She is the hen that stirs the whole house. The sun, barely visible while her feet pad roughly against wooden floorboards. Aerobics instructions can be heard in the distance as she makes her rounds about the residence, her arms pulled up moving back and forth at her sides; she’s jogging. Her boisterous voice is heard over everything as she yells, sometimes on the phone to a friend, sometimes to no one at all, but more frequently to her sleeping family, complaining of dirty socks left on the dryer top, and strange fumes coming from one of the bathrooms.
She yells to her twin daughters, both freshly twenty-one and still living under her roof. Her youngest moved out a month ago after marrying her high school sweetheart. Maybe she yells louder out of sorrow, missing her baby girl. Still she doesn’t notice the closing of their doors or the annoying huffs they make in response to her noise making. Down the hall her husband sleeps, having just gotten home from a night shift, spent at WalMart. She knows he hauls heavy cases of soda and water by the hour. And things could be better, but could also be worse. They could be divorced like her parents were long ago, giving in to the chatters and whispers of their friends, allowing lies to split them apart. Could be remarried, her to a man way older, and him to a Jehovah Witness, leaving her twins and little girl to wonder as she had how a love so pure could end so tragic. So she counts her blessings and goes about her day.
She’s gone to work by nine, freshly showered and exercising, and by 9:30 after having prayed at the altar, she works diligently, sitting at her cherry-wood desk. The phone suffers from a bad case of turrets, ringing constantly and randomly hour by hour; she will answer it. She picks up the calls, inputs tithing envelopes, and types the schedules along with the program for this Sunday’s service.
Work is over by four, but she’s not home till much later due to her bustling all over town, like the ant that won’t quit working. She’s always on the go, mostly doing for others. Most likely it’s something girl scout related, though her daughters are all graduated from the troop. She continues to lead it, accompanying little nieces to sell cookies in front of K-Mart’s and Blockbusters. She heads trips to nursing homes too, with baskets of tissues and peppermints for the elderly. She puts together sleepovers and in the midst of pillow fights and marshmallows preaches ‘no sex before marriage’. Because she was once their age, and no one had ever told her that. She wishes someone had, and thinks things might have happened differently if they had. Maybe she wouldn’t have to regret all the times before. Her eyes lift to the sky and she thanks God that she hadn’t gotten pregnant. She wants to make sure that doesn’t happen to them; that they know.
Her granted green mini-van pulls into the driveway honking incessantly at nightfall. She announces that groceries are to be brought into the house, meaning by anyone but her. Her twins carry in plastic Piggly Wiggly, Walmart, or Public bags, and sometimes her husband helps; mostly not. She buys them fiber bars, kashi cereals, and low-fat syrup because anything at the very top of the food pyramid is despised. She’s recently been diagnosed with high cholesterol and wants to get healthy, so she eats healthy, and in worrying about her family, assures they do as well.
Still, a quick ten minute nap on their burgundy leather couch is taken before she jumps up to fix taco’s, spaghetti, lasagna, baked chicken, or most likely her favorite, fried fish.
After dinner, she’s fun when watching movies with her daughters. Her laugh is high pitch at the amusing parts, she shakes her head when the curse words come, and spews off what’s coming next if she thinks she knows. She’s tired when they ask for her to join them, but does so because she’s just happy they still like to spend time with her. She enjoys her family bonding time, and when her husband leaves the televised basketball game to sit beside her and rub her feet, she thinks life can’t get much better than this.
In her bed she lays alone much after her husband's left for work. The bedhead light is the only one on, and she’s propped up reading the scriptures. Sometimes she still gets scared at night her mother having just died a month ago. She’s scared of losing someone else and sad cause she’s already lost so much. But she reads the scripture and they keep her encouraged and she’s ready to go to sleep. On her knees she’s a praying mantis, praying for her children, her church, the rest of her family, and her friends. That’s the kind of person she is. She’s always thinking of others, always doing something, like a bee that just keeps on pollinating. Even her dreams are full of action.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Regret is an Understatement

My sister was, hands down, the most embarrassing part of my youth.  She was the type that dressed weird and said weird things, but back then I didn't understand her.  I couldn't understand why she acted the way she did because it was beyond my teenaged comprehension.  So instead of sticking up for her, I helped make fun.  Instead of standing beside her, I distanced myself from her.  Years later, I feel an intense sadness over this fact.

While I laid down and let people make fun of me, Sarah stood up to them.

"Fuckin weird-o bitch."  People would say to her.

"So what?"  Sarah would say and walk away.

While I'm sure her personality left her feeling rather lonely, it made her grow up differently from me.  As kids, we were both socially awkward.  We lived in the middle of no where, and the only kids that lived on our street were significantly younger than us.  Their mom called me "that fat girl" so I stopped playing with them so much, that was when Sarah and I became invested in the internet.  We roleplayed on message boards as our favorite Japanese-anime characters and IMed our friends instead of calling them.

Eventually, I fell inline with a group of self-destructive, black-clad middle school kids.  Whereas I became invested in the real world and its social perceptions, Sarah remained in her techno-electric one.  She didn't care what other people thought of her.  She dressed weird and said weird things without worrying about their consequences.  Conversations with her were often disjointed.  She'd leap from subject to subject without warning.  It'd go something like, "It sucks you don't feel good.  Did you hear that Pluto's not a planet anymore?" and unless you knew her, it was sometimes hard to follow the conversation.

People would ask me, "Why's your sister so weird?"

And I would say, "I think she's nuts."

It's true that my sister's a little eccentric, but most of my family is; we're all a bit oddball-ish.  It's true that Sarah is, by far, the most out-there person in my immediate family.  But she also doesn't care what other people think of her.  While I worry about societal perceptions and how people view me, Sarah could give two-shits less.  While I'm widely accepted by others, I'm accepted on THEIR terms.  Sarah, on the other hand, is only accepted by people that can accept her on HER terms, no one else's.  I must admit, I'm a bit envious of her for that.


This is a piece in work right now.  Sarah's gotta be the bravest person I know and I want to do a sort-of Creative Non-Fiction homage to her.  She's not dead or anything.  I just think she's an incredibly interesting person and the way we grew up sorta defines her personality.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Woot Man

 Standing at 6'4, weighing in at 325, with light-skin complexion ad light brown eyes, all the way from Fort Valley, Georgia, give it up for Reggie "Woot" Wootson. Reggie Wootson is a loving father, husband, and friend. He is quite the comedian at times as well. He always says, "If you act a fool, I'll act a fool with you", anytime he feels you are acting out of line or have lost your mind.
   As he sits on the couch, watching his stories on TV,h leans to his right side and shift every 10 minutes or so. He has his hands wrapped in his white beater to keep them warm. When we talk sometimes it fels like you're talking to a friend versus a parent figure. He makes you feel like no matter what, you can come and talk to him. When he wants to, he gives really good advice, with a soft tone in his voice as he says, " don't ever let your light stop shining because of others." He loves his family and would do anything for them. He works hard to keep his home together. He gets up morning after morning, with red-blood shot eyes, blurred vision and unstable balances,as he gets ready to take his wife to work, keep the house together, and handle all financial endeavors.

A Manager with Personality

A young woman who’s a customer walks into the Columbus Public Library Bookstore and looks around to see what books are there. Next to the purchase counter, a short African-American woman strides out from the back room, walks right up to the customer and greets her. Her name tag reads Evelyn Durrah: Bookstore Manager. She smiles to the customer and says very cheerfully, “Hello ma’am, welcome to the bookstore.” Evelyn strikes up a conversation with the woman very casually about a certain book that she hopes to find. Evelyn helps the woman search around the store for the book that the customer wants. Evelyn even looks around in the back room for the book, but neither of them can find it. Returning to the customer, Evelyn’s voice is regretful as she says, “I’m sorry that we don’t have the book and it sounded real interesting too.” Before the customer walks out the door, she says “Oh well, it’s not your fault, but thank you so much, you were very helpful.”

What You Don't See

With a humorous sense of humor, a joyous attitude, a kind spirit is a man of worthy and dignity. Jason, whose 5’10 with brown, straight hair and brown-eyes, stands with a very confident stature. Jason works as a News Anchor at WTVM for the 5:00, 6:00, and 6:30 newscast. Every day he sits at a desk and reads a teleprompter and shares the news, live, to viewers of Columbus.  Jason says, “This is my dream job, I never would have thought I would be doing what I love. I really enjoy getting to conduct interviews and find breaking news to stories, it’s great.”  His job is different each and every day; it is a surprise, with no day repeating itself.  When Jason is not on TV, he likes to spend time with his wife and two children. He loves going to church and to help spread the word of God to people.  Although most people see him sharing the news, there is another side to him you don’t see, he says “I’m not just a News Anchor, I am a man of God and I feel it is important to share Gods word with those around me.” 

Looking Forward

“Ann, would you mind topping off my water baby?” Jim asks from the corduroy Lazy-Boy that he always tries to pivot, painstakingly, toward his daughter in the kitchen.

“Yeah daddy. Just give me a second to put this food up,” she replies from across the bar that divides the kitchen and the den.

It’s a dreary Friday evening, just after a light supper. An old war film is on the television. Jim peers over at the screen, squinting with his powder-blue eyes to try and read the closed caption.

“Audie Murphy was the most decorated soldier of WWII,” Jim claims. “Did I ever tell you that?” 
James Talley Sr. is a 91-year-old World War II veteran and former Coca-Cola man of 45 years. The former First Sergeant and Assistant Sales Manager at Coke now spends his days in his recliner watching old movies and working word-finds. A survivor of the Great Depression, a war, a heart attack, and the death of his wife of 55 years, Jim always acknowledges how lucky he is to have made it through so much.

“There aren’t too many of us left.”

He alternates between watching his movie and dozing off, only to be awoken by the barking of his golden retrievers or by his live-in daughter giving him his nightly pills. He wears a Coca-Cola diner hat and a black windbreaker, with a throw blanket covering his lower half. On the end table next to him lay several odds-and-ends: a flashlight, a roll of paper towels, an atomic clock, and an electric razor (for when company comes over).

“When do you go into work today?” Jim asks his grandson who is sitting on the white leather couch across the den. “You see what you have to look forward to when you retire?”

- Nick Johnston 

Welcome to the Stage

Five foot two radio personality and entrepreneur, Natasha Hall, stands off to the side of the big room as the growing crowd murmurs amongst themselves. Natasha restlessly watches everyone’s move, cautious of any miscalculation. She warmly addresses passerby’s as they seat themselves all around her. Wearing a black, form-fitting, off the shoulder dress with leopard printed wedge heels, Natasha begins to nervously sound check her mic. Her face lights up at the sight of a familiar face and says “I wish you could have been a part of the show!” in a sad, yet excited tone. With her long black hair streaked with a strawberry colored tint, curled into long tendrils, a make-up artists begins to touch up her face. She mutters the time to Natasha and Natasha gestures to two other females. They momentarily walk behind a blue curtain, and in seconds, reappear on the stage before the now silent crowd of her peers. Natasha beams and announces into the mic “Welcome Ladies and Gents to the first annual Respect My Craft exhibit…” 

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Reservoir

After Kim finished telling me about how she and her sister, Tami, found out their

boyfriends were cheating on them with each other she drove us to the Reservoir. It was her spot

she told me, to just get away from everything, when her head swelled too much. To get there we

had to travel a dirt road until we got to a fork, make a left and keep driving, dust and dirt rocks

hitting the windows and testing the tires until we  got to a dead end. The dead end looked like the

dirt had stretched itself on the ground like a thin layer of paper sheets. There were rusted gates

and she parked underneath the tall security camera, making sure her license plate didn’t show.

It was dark but the light under the camera shone brightly enough that it lit up the rocks that

speckled the ground. I followed her into the woods, hoping some sort of primal source of

survival would kick in and give me night time vision. She pulled her long, lank legs over the

shaky gate, bypassing the barbed wire and no trespassing signs. She landed perfectly and I

staggered behind as our sneakers began to sink into the snug sand.

            Reaching a wooden gate about half a mile from the first gate, she climbed on that one to

and pointed to a submerged dock. About 20% of the dock was underwater. She said we could sit

on it and we’d be fine. We sat down and looked at the water’s changing hues via the moon and I

wondered if I looked across the lake, could I be like Gatsby and find my Daisy again by green

lights. I spent the ends of my teenage nights on the broken dock. The Reservoir was not

made for the light. In our last semester as seniors, Adriana and I taught Gracie how to smoke.

Later on, when we invested in two freshmen girls we taught them how smoke too. I’m only one

whom it didn’t stick with. I liked to jump on the wood while Gracie liked to lie to the side,

often annoyed of my jumping. Half the dock was submerged into the dark blue water and my

jumping caused little waves of the liquid to lick the wooden planks and hit Gracie. Adriana

would puff her smoke as I told them about how my Dad said that we needed to stop coming out

here late at night. The owner had set up several security cameras over the benched dock. We

climbed the poorly constructed gates anyway. It felt right to keep it our night vigil. It was our

“rebellious” escape. It was where we would go to play “cards” which is what the freshmen girls

told their parents they were doing every time we picked them up in my old Jeep Cherokee.

 Years later when I brought Emly to see the Reservoir, I pushed her over the loose gate,

which scared her but she made it over. This was the only time I would ever break the law other

than underage drinking. We made it to the wooden gates to find the dock was about 85%

submerged into the water. I told her how the owner caught people coming over at night and

pissing on the couch in the old creaky clubhouse. The camera had turned and gotten stuck

in its position, only getting to watch one guy one night pissing into the couch to another guy the

next night doing the same thing. . The sky looked heavy against her as she leaned on the wooden

gate. She got nervous and wanted to leave. I told her that I used to flick Menthol Smooths into

the water. And as we walked on the sand, the wetness clung to our shoes and she asked what

we’d do if we got caught. I grabbed her hand and said, I had it all figured out.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep

Covering me are brown sheets, blue fuzzy throw, green blanket. And great mother's quilt, handmade from her days of captivity. Silky red, rest under my head, smelling of hair oil. Crumbs rake against my coffee skin and fingers graze over cotton, scratching them to the floor. Gum collects on bed post, stickers stick as well. Names are carved into the wood, to stay forever, loving Jonathon, Brandon, and Nick. Years pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

At nine, it stood against the wall, two others in the room. Toys and clothes are stuffed underneath, and the room is said to be clean. Barney is our comforter, unicorns are our wallpaper.

Three beds cramped into one room, and walking space is limited. We imagine beds as ships at sea, and make it all make sense.
Then years pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

A year ago little sis moves out, and marriage will be nice. The room shared by three becomes a room for one. I send my sister to another room, and finally gain some privacy. But then bed #3 is moved back in for grandmother to sleep in.

But grandmother leaves some months later, her home is no longer here. Instead she stays in heaven, with my God and Savior there.

So privacy is once restored, though her bed remains.

It just doesn't feel right yet to move it out again.
Some months pass by, and I stay here. Eating, talking, and being right here. Living right here on a mattress so worn. Held by wooden frame.

After class is relaxing time.

I lay down in bed.

From behind, through lime curtains, the sunny sun shines.

I'm tucked under fabric masses, wiggling to the right, to the computer on the table.

My hand stretches out, fingers tap tap tap. Scroll down, keep reading, cause the story's getting good.

Line after line I take in, and hours and hours fly by. Eyes fall heavy, words lose their meaning, and I turn back over to the left.

Hand under stomach, body contorted, eyelids flutter shut. Peace.

Good dream this time, but bad dream soon, someone in the room.

Rest cures my exhaustion.

-- Alicia Thompson

Monday, February 13, 2012

Videogames and Anorexia

Black-lights illuminate the stains on my white t-shirt as the videogame screens flash violence into the surroundings.  A group of men with buzzed hair and rigid stances are swarmed around another man who stands with his legs spread and a fake gun to his right cheek.  He is shooting the heads from zombies.  His friends cheer him and slap his back.  Adults and kids alike stop and watch as two teenagers dance on the platform of a videogame called Pump it Up.  My brother, David, is one of them.  Arrows float from the bottom of the screen to the top, dictating the rhythmic slamming of their feet – top left to bottom left, top right to bottom right, a jump back to top, then bottom right, middle, middle, middle.  I am watching David as well.  He’s dancing to one of the harder songs in the game.  On my left, a videogame screams overexcited Japanese phrases in my ear.  To my right, a twanging, southern voice yells “Yeehaw” as an engrossed kid steers a fake ATV attached to one of the machines.

David and the other kid finish their song.  I step onto the platform with my friend Tommy.  We insert our coins into their respective slots.  I choose the medium setting while Tommy chooses hard.  I envy Tommy and my brother because they are both rail-thin, and I am almost two-hundred pounds, standing at five-foot three-inches.  A few of my fatter friends can play on hard-mode, but it’s usually just the skinny ones who can move fast enough for it.  I’d started playing Pump It Up for fun, but it quickly became frustrating.  Over the year or so we’d been playing, David and my sister, Sarah, had lost about ten pounds while I gained twenty.  I’d hoped that the exercise would help me lose weight but it didn’t.  I wanted to be the girl that walked into the room and made every man’s jaw dropped.  I wanted to be doted on and loved, and being fat was not getting me there.

At fifteen years old I am surrounded by stick-thin friends that only dated other stick people. In response, I develop an eating disorder.

It’s been two weeks since I’ve stopped eating, and I’ve successfully lost five pounds.  My stomach growls angrily as I slam my feet on the platform’s corresponding arrows. I think about how much I hate my gelatinous belly, and how I’d be able to play hard-mode without its sway.  The song finishes.  Tommy and I step down from the platform.  My vision tunnels and I feel like passing out, so I sit down beside the Pump It Up machine in an attempt to make the world stop moving.  David comes over to me and asks if I’m OK. 

I tell him I’m fine, but it’ll be years before I admit to my anorexia.

--Kristin Kolb

Blue Springs

Cason and Virginia Callaway “discovered” Blue Springs in 1921, and it was the extraordinary beauty that brought them from LaGrange to live in the Hamilton area. However the spring has an unwritten history extending back centuries and beyond. In the late eighteenth century, a hospital on-site utilized the pure water. Prior to that, Native American people knew of the spring and clearly visited it with some regularity. The spring’s location is peripherally marked with trees, centuries old, that were bent in their youth to point toward the water source. The water ranks among the cleanest in the world, as it has since Franklin Roosevelt first commissioned a study to determine drinking sources around Harris County.

At the front entrance, the wood and stone gates blend seamlessly into the grove of giant magnolias. More impressive still is the rear entrance, loping through pine forests and over a mountain ridge from the log cabin home of my great-grandparents. However you get there, the swimming pool will immediately pull you in.

When my great-grandfather Cason purchased the Blue Springs watershed in 1930, he had already envisioned the swimming pool that he would build seven years later. Drilled out of the native hollis quartz, the pool at Blue Springs stretches just over two acres. The water shares an exquisite blue color with its source, though not the same intensity. At the south end of the pool, the water reaches a depth of twenty feet, at the north it is as shallow as one foot. The majority sits at roughly eight feet deep, with quartz bottom shining through the pristine water. A swim pavilion constructed from hand-hewn oak, salvaged from a barn on the property, has hosted many thousands of guests over the past seventy years. A matching pavilion atop the overlooking ridge seats eighty guests at an arc of long oak picnic tables, surrounding a twenty foot barbecue pit and combination butler’s pantry / kitchen, built from the quartz taken from the pool. The architecture of the structures compliments the extraordinary landscape, cultivated over decades by dedicated horticulture enthusiast Cason and his equally green-thumbed wife, Virginia. Cason and Virginia were well-known for their hospitality, and frequently entertained their friends, including Mr. Roosevelt, at Blue Springs.

The pool and the pavilions make an ideal party spot, but their beauty dulls in comparison with the spring itself. Approximately one-hundred yards north of the pool winds a trail, at first paved with stone then worn dirt tangled with rhododendron roots. Mountain laurel lines the sides of the trail in thick walls, and their bloom in late spring delights the eyes and the nose. Continue down the trail for thirty yards, and quite suddenly, the spring will appear. The deep blue color of the water is shocking, almost as shocking as the temperature of the water. A moment in the spring and skin immediately looks blue through the water. Five minutes in the spring and lips will turn blue from the cold. Moss banks line the wall of the ridge that embraces the spring and provide vantage points for jumping in. The visible bottom begins at a depth of fifty feet and slopes downward into infinity. Divers sent to examine the caves below have reached three hundred feet, at which point the undertow and the narrowness of the caves make continuing all but impossible.

Here, in these waters, on these grounds, my family marks every major milestone. When we marry, the showers, rehearsal dinners, and receptions thrown here bring us back. When we are baptized, it is with the cold, blue spring water. When we die, it is to this sacred spot that we repair, with our family, resting in the beauty and strength of those who came before. It couldn’t be more fitting that the family mausoleum sits atop the mountain ridge overlooking the watershed, emblazoned with the family crest and motto: “St. Callaway, Ora Pro Me.” Made from the same native quartz, it currently houses five beloved greats of the Callaway family, four inside the mausoleum and one, my grandfather, outside in the north center plot of the graveyard, where he will watch over his grandchildren as we, one by one, come home.

- Marshall Callaway