Friday, February 12, 2021
Thursday, February 11, 2021
Wednesday, February 10, 2021
I posted this essay in June 2010. I can hardly believe it was eleven years ago. I've added the few lines dedicated to Sandy Cornish's life from Wikipedia.
Sandy Cornish (1793–1869) was an African American farmer, businessperson, and civic leader in Key West, Florida. As a former slave who had purchased his freedom, he publicly maimed himself to prevent being returned to slavery.
Slavery and freedom
Cornish was born a slave in Maryland in 1793. In 1839, his master hired him out to a railroad-building project in Port Leon in Florida's Panhandle. The position allowed him to earn money for himself, and after nine years of work at $600 a year, he was able to purchase his own freedom and that of his wife Lillah. However, the papers showing him to be free were destroyed in a fire. Lacking proof of his emancipation, he was seized by slave traders, but managed to break free. The next day he gathered a crowd of onlookers in Port Leon. He loudly proclaimed that, having purchased his freedom once, he would not return to slavery under any circumstances. He then deliberately maimed himself, stabbing himself in the leg, slashing the muscles of one ankle, and cutting off a finger of his left hand, which he proceeded to sew back on with a needle and thread. These injuries made him worthless as a slave and thus immune to recapture. Friends took him home in a wheelbarrow, and he eventually recovered his health.
Around 1850, he and Lillah bought a farm in Key West, in the area that is now Truman Avenue near Simonton Street. Selling vegetables and fruits to local residents, he became one of the richest people in Key West. He was a leader of the local black community and the founder of the Cornish Chapel of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, now the Cornish Memorial AME Zion church and chapel, which still stands at 702 Whitehead Street.
He died in 1869 at the age of 76. He was buried in Key West Cemetery, but the location of his grave was lost to history. In 2014, the cemetery and the Historic Florida Keys Foundation installed a plaque to his memory. Speakers described his life as an inspiring testament to human freedom. City Commissioner Clayton Lopez, presiding over the ceremony, said, "His actions in life show that he was not going to accept the fate developed for him by lesser men. He is a legend that continues to point the way to human dignity to this day."
Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Moisture laden air is not unknown in the Florida Keys though usually we see it as oxidation on metal surfaces as salt air eats everything in sight. Every now and again we see actual fog, and when I out the word fog into the search function at the top of this page I got back half a dozen photo essays on the subject dating back to 2008. Like this one: Fog 2011 I got some rather decent photos I think, though I say so myself on my half a mega pixel android phone. I mention all this because fog has descended once again onto the Keys to the usual chorus of shock horror and "this never happens here!"
Monday, February 8, 2021
About a year after I got Penny, I googled ‘American dingo.’ I can’t remember what exactly drove me to search for it, but I remember what I found. Picture after picture of dogs who all, in some way or another, looked like Penny. Some looked like clones. These dogs had all kinds of names: Carolina Dog, American Dingo, Dixie Dingo, porch dog, and — there it was — “yaller dog.” Dad was right.
I was sucked into a hole, reading descriptions and looking at photos of people’s dogs. I was shocked that behaviors and traits I thought were unique to Penny appeared in most Carolina Dogs. The hooked tail and the almond eyes were present in all of them. The behaviors are what convinced me, though. I always bragged that I never potty-trained Penny. She just learned not to go to the bathroom inside within the first two weeks I had her. Ditto for all Carolina Dogs. She would dig small holes in my parents’ front yard to stick her snout in. Ditto again. She was more loyal than any other dog I’d ever been around. Carolina Dogs have an extreme pack mentality.
The more I read the more amazed I became. Carolina Dogs are hypothesized by their discoverer to be the only American dog breed with no European ancestry. All of their forbearers are said to have come across the Bering land bridge with the first humans to inhabit North America. They’re dogs that look and act the way they do because of the natural selection they endured over thousands of years in the South.