THE LONG DAY CLOSES, CHRISTMAS, 2022
I watch The Long Day Closes every year during the Christmas/New Year period. Most years I watch it at some other time as well. I never tire of it.
TOM MILLER AT 100!
That one above is Tom in 2007, a couple of months before his death at the age of 85. Had he lived until October 24, 2022 he would have celebrated his 100th birthday. No reason why we can't.
What follows is an array of photos from his life, with accompanying verbiage.
OLD TIMES THERE ARE SOON FORGOTTEN
[Jonathan Brooks and Nicie Elizabeth Kinnaird May (my grandpaarents) with children and some grandchildren. That little boy with the big black tie in the front row is my father, Jonathana Bryan. My guess is that the photo was taken in the first decade of the 20th Centuery. The family is seated on the porch of the old May house on the farm west of Sawyerville. That house burned in 1934.]
I still find it amazing that my great-grandfather, John William May, was among the first wave of settlers of Alabama, moving to that new state in 1819 from South Carolina as a 4-year-old boy accompanying his parents, James F. and Charlotte Willingham May. The family set up a homestead in Hollow Square, Alabama, but not in the small community that lay west of present-day Sawyerville where the only remains of the settlement is Hollow Square Cemetery. They lived on what became known as the Jud May Place, about 3 miles to the north of present-day Sawyerville and east of the Crackerneck community.
“How different is the home life of our own dear Queen.” So, it is reported, a Victorian lady remarked after watching a performance of Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra.” I wonder what that same lady might have remarked had she seen Edward Albee’s “Who’s Afraid of Virginal Woolf?” I have just finished watching Mike Nichols’s’ movie version of that, probably for the first time in at least 25 years, and the work still has the power to shock.
Last night I watched the Spielberg/Kushner “West Side Story” for the second time, this time on HBO Max. I loved it even more than when I first watched it 3 days earlier on Disney Plus.
As always I am struck by the sheer craft of both Stephen Spielberg and Tony Kushner. Kushner seems to be Spielberg’s go-to man for screenplays, and my assumption is that the 2 men have lengthy conversations concerning what the project is about. I’d love to have been in on their conversations about the prologue to the new movie.
ORAL HISTORY / OVERHEARD HISTORY
[Grave marker for Walter Kinnaird, Kinnaird family cemetery near Sawyerville, Alabama]
When I was a child, my father told me a story that still haunts. The brother of his mother Nicie Elizabeth Kinnaird May was deaf and dumb, in the parlance of the time. My father always referred to him that way and never gave him a name. At an early age he was placed in the care of a Black woman. He lived in a cabin with her on the Kinnaird plantation and over time had at least two children with her. After his death, his caretaker moved north, either to Cleveland or Cincinnati, taking the children with her. My father did not know whether the children survived or whether they took their mother’s last name or their father’s.
L to R: Brothers Albert Judson, Francis Taylor, James Benjamin, Jonathan Brooks. The first 2 are buried in Hollow Square Cemetery. Brooks was there briefly but was moved to Greensboro Cemetery. James Benmjamin is burried in Little Rock (Ark.) Roselawn Cemetery.
Albert Judson May was born on March 16, 1845, son of John William May who had moved as a child with his family to Hollow Square, Alabama, in 1819. Jud May was the brother of my grandfather, Jonathan Brooks May. In December 1868 Jud married Susan Marguerite Wright Parr (Parrs are May cousins, so these two may have been kin) and with her produced 5 children:
Missing from this discussion is “Voyage of Time,” a documentary by Malick released in 2016 as a 40 minute IMAX production and a 90 minute feature. Why omit? I have never had the chance to see it. It is available on DVD only in an edition not coded for most U.S. players.
This is a love letter, not a critique, and for that I make no apology. I’m writing it for myself, but I’m inviting you to step in and share if that is your desire. An offering, not a demand.
We begin at the beginning: