In the Park with Flannery and the Gorillas

 

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Linnie in the park with gorilla

On March 31st I drove to Savannah to take part in the 3rd Annual Flannery O’Connor Homemade Parade and Block Party. Flannery O’Connor is a beloved 20th century author known for her absurdist plot twists, wacky characters, and pithy comments on Southern manners and morals.  I’d been anticipating this event for months, and it did not disappoint.

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Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home, Savannah GA

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Partygoers of all ages strolled around live oaks and azaleas in the square across from the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home. There was homegrown art, chicken bingo (because as a child, the author walked a pet chicken around the block on a leash), and bluegrass music.

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Painting by Panhandle Slim

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For the parade, young and old wore period clothing or festive paper hats.

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Some of us enacted fictional characters’ moments of reckoning. Where else would someone greet a man carrying a wooden leg with the words “Good Country People,” or a woman carrying a bull’s head with the salutation “Greenleaf”?

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But to many of the participants, who have read Flannery O’Connor’s stories, these exchanges made perfect sense.

So, too, did my hat-headed stick puppets with the sign “[Why, you’re] one of my babies!” Skip to the moment at the end of the story “A Good Man is Hard to Find” where the grandmother experiences a moment of grace before being blown away by the bad guy and you’ll have the inspiration for my costume. The only surprise to one parade goer was that I had knit all the hats.

with Gorilla 2

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There were two gorillas (each representing a character in the novel Wise Blood) and so I posed for photos with both, thereby getting multiple spots in the online news (though sadly no name recognition).

The whole thing was tremendous fun for young and old, as I’m sure the babies would agreed. (Mine would; they don’t get out much.)

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About Lillian-Trettin

I grew up in the Appalachian "Bible Belt" of East Tennessee in the southern United States, listening to banjo music and gospel lyrics as well as the Beatles. As a kid, I was curious about religious rituals like speaking in tongues and snake handling but resistant to the fundamentalist thinking they involved. Flannery O'Connor's tales of religious fanatics, con men, bigots, and the spiritually bereft or ambivalent resonate for me. Despite having traveled widely and lived in other places, I am (as so many Southerners claim to be) permanently "South haunted." I returned to making art full time in 2011, following a career as a teacher, researcher, and consultant and after raising two sons. I’m convinced the delay enriched rather than impeded my growth as an artist.
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One Response to In the Park with Flannery and the Gorillas

  1. Beth Hannabass says:

    Wonderful! Wish I’d been there.

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