Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Imagine if you had been in Rayville, Louisiana and came to check your post office box

I have a new project, documenting as many of the New Deal post office murals as I can.  I started it by accident due to a post on Preservation in Mississippi about the restoration of the Picayune post office mural .  It is kind of like getting a cat...first there is just one...and then another, and pretty soon...well, you know about cats.  I had to make an unexpected trip to Texas the past week.  I had previously plotted out all the New Deal murals in post offices in the vicinity between here and there, planning for a leisurely few road trips in the future.  One was on the way to Graham (a real post about that one later) and one on the return trip--two different routes down and back.  I left TX at 6:30 a.m. today as I have to be at work in the morning.  However, Rayville, Louisiana is right on the Interstate on my route home, and I thought it worth a short detour of 10-15 minutes.
Image used with permission from the United States Postal Service
 It is Sunday, but most of the post office murals I have been able to photograph so far have been accessible even on Sunday.  The post offices that were built under the New Deal had both the post windows, the post boxes, and the postmasters offices all in the same room, and when the work day was done, they just pulled down the metal screen to close off the post office inner workings from the outer, so folks could still access their mail boxes 24/7.  It may have been done in later post offices, or they may have just "remodeled", but imagine my surprise, and disappointment, when I finally located the post office near down town Rayville, and walked in to see the above!  Yes, it is Sunday, and even if you can buy liquor, wine, and beer in Louisiana 24/7/365, you cannot get into the area where "the people's art" is located, at least in Rayville.
Image used with permission from the United States Postal Service
Now, truthfully, it is not that big of a deal, as I am up and down this road fairly often, and can go back--and will go back.  But, I was there now, and by golly, I wanted that photograph.  The blinds on the doors did not go all the way to the floor, so I stooped down to see if I could get a view...nope...I got on my knees...nope...I got on all fours...nope.  There was a fleeting moment as I was lowering myself to lie prone on the floor and try to angle the camera where I could see up to the mural from that little sliver of glass that allowed a view into the room (NOTE: Thank you to the US Postal Service for blinds that only close 3/4 of the way.) when I wondered what anyone coming in to pick up mail might think.   On both the Arkansas post office (coming later) and the Louisiana post office, I did note that someone placed lights in a way that did not enable one to adequately appreciate the art, although in this case, it was compounded by the reflection on the glass of the window as I lay on the floor looking through it.  

I will do a follow up visit for photographs when I will be able to have access, and do a real post with the data about the post office and mural.  Somehow, after all the things that have happened during the past few days, as I was lying on the floor of the post office in front of the door where no telling how many people had walked with no telling what on their shoes, yet determined to take the picture, I just had the thought of Larry the Cable Guy saying, "I don't care who you are, that there was funny."  Of course, I had been on the road for 8 hours in the pouring rain by then, and could have been a little light headed.

I drove on across the Mississippi River, and stopped to refuel in Madison for the last quarter of the trip home.  After fueling, I went in for my personal pit stop and to get some water and ice.  There was a young woman at the counter trying to explain something about how much gas she got and how much she intended to get.  By the time I got back out and was paying for my drinks, I got the rest of the story:  There had been a mishap at the pump, and somehow quite a bit of fuel had spilled onto the ground and she was concerned about it.  As I was getting ready to back out, the police and fire truck (hazard guys) were pulling in.  I was on the phone with R, updating him on my ETA when I suddenly said, "I have to go now so I don't get stuck here." I had no idea where that firetruck was going to stop, but I still had an hour and a half more to go, it was still raining, and the last thing I wanted was for that truck to pull up behind me and stop.

I had bought some bottled tea back in Texas--a new tea company, and as R and J and I love tea, I had picked up a box of several varieties, prompting my young checker to ask, "Are you thirsty tonight?"  I planned to pour the Dove Creek Unsweet Texas Tea over my ice, since though once cold, it was no longer so 10 hours later.  Couldn't open it.  Bopped it on the bottom of the jar.  Couldn't open it.  When I moved to Mississippi 10 years ago, one of my friends and colleagues gave me a Swiss Army Knife with a corkscrew.  He said, one never knew in Mississippi when you might need a corkscrew.  I need to get in touch with him and ask him to add a bottle/jar opener.  Obviously one never knows when one might need one of those either.  It crossed my mind to run back into the store and ask someone to please open that bottle for me, as my poor (Yes, I was playing the sympathy card, and it was totally true, folks) arthritic hands just could not manage.  But, then the sirens came and the firetruck came, and I weighed getting stuck there and unable to get out of the parking lot versus getting that bottle of tea open.

Let's just say the tea is in the refrigerator, chillin' out for me to take to work tomorrow, and Swiss Army Knife with bottle/jar opener and corkscrew is on my wish list for next shopping trip.


Beth said...

I'm laughing! I've also taken pictures from strange places, I have a Swiss Army knife that I carry unless I know I'm going through metal detectors and I have to ask frequently for a kind soul to untwist my water/tea bottles! Giggle, giggle! Can't wait for the full mural story!

Suzassippi said...

I'm pretty sure it would have been a "Kodak moment" for anyone walking in and seeing me--in any of the positions from stoop to lying on the floor--my back was to the door.