The rise and fall of Silent Sam
Editor’s note: Starting this month, A.C. Snow’s column will be published twice a month.
I’m not sitting in sack clothes and ashes, mourning the probable relocation of Silent Sam.
University officials could have prevented the statue’s humiliation if, as many of us suggested awhile ago, they had persuaded the state legislature to authorize the removal of Sam to a campus museum or other facility.
When I was a student at Carolina, I walked past Silent Sam almost daily, regarding it as just another statue.
But that was in another time, on an all-white campus occupied by 7,000 men and only 800 women. Students were generally more tuned in to Choo-Choo Justice, a nationally ranked football team, and occasional panty raids than they were with racial justice issues.
There are two schools of thought regarding the statue. To the black community especially, the statue is a provocative, improper tribute celebrating slavery. To others, it is a memorial to the sons of the South who died defending a way of life that, in retrospect and reality, is inhumanely indefensible.
Not long ago, I was sharing an elevator with a tall, robust man wearing a T-shirt that exposed his arms from the shoulder down.
Much of the space on his left arm featured a large, eye-catching tattoo. The scene was of a tree, barren of leaves, with a crow perched on a top limb.
As I silently admired the art work, I thought about how tattoos seem to be more and more popular in our current culture.
There was a time when tattoos were not socially popular. What few I saw as a youngster were found on “sea-faring men.” Tattoos imbued a sense of mystique, if not wildness to the wearer.
Reader Bill Arnett recently weighed in on the subject of tattoos.
“Before my parents became born-again Christians, with the restrictive religious lifestyle required of me and my brother, my father, while in the Navy, had gotten an 18-inch tattoo of a bikini-clad girl on his leg.
“However, as children we were never allowed to discuss that tattoo because it was something done in Dad’s ‘sinful’ days before he was ‘born again,’” Bill wrote.
At the Raleigh restaurant where I frequently visit for morning coffee, a young server sports a tattoo on one arm. It depicts a rose and a sunflower.
“Why do you wear that tattoo?” I asked her recently.
“Because I like roses and sunflowers,” she answered cheerfully.
Reuters News Agency reports that more women than men are getting tattoos. The story noted that whereas in the past men were supposedly turned off by women with tattoos, that rejection is much less prevalent today.
Thanks to so many of you for your responses to the recent column on my alma mater.
You said the column stirred fond memories of your own time in college.
The latter prompts me to remind everyone, including me, how grateful we should be for memory.
I fear we take memory too much for granted. Memory gives color to life. Oh, sure, memory can be painful. But for most of us, memory is a kaleidoscope of mostly happy experiences, a mental photo album that can be visited at a moment’s command to the brain.
Some of you may remember a once popular song about memories:
“Precious memories, how they linger
How they ever flood my soul.
In the stillness, of the midnight
Precious sacred scenes unfold.”
Visit the market
It’s summertime and the livin’s easy, according to a popular song.
As you revel in the season, don’t neglect to visit The Farmer’s Market. Both the people and the produce you find there are well worth your time.
It may be that much of the market’s lure has to do with my farm-boy raising. I still cling to the idea that farmers are the last bastions of forthrightness, truth and honesty.
During a visit, I had stopped at one farmer’s stand to examine his peaches, blushing as pink as a June bride. Another customer was also examining the beautiful fruit.
“Red Havens! Tree ripened!” boasted the farmer perched on a stool.
The man beside me picked up a peach and meticulously examined its stem.
“Aha! You’re checking to see if I’m lying, ain’t you,’ the peach grower chuckled. “Let me tell you, friend. I ain’t gonna lie over no basket of peaches.”
“What would you lie for?” I asked.
“I ain’t gonna lie about that neither,” he said. “A fine piece of land or maybe a new car. But not no basket of peaches!”
Author Pat Conroy wrote, “A ripe peach is a thing perfect unto itself, and the fruit is the tree’s way of expressing devotion to sunshine.”