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It's just a shame that in the pre-digital era of photography, taking pictures was quite an expensive thing, so one had to be more frugal than now with taking snaps. I dream of getting a chance to do over all those trips I made in those pre-digital times, throughout the US, and not in the least through what is commonly called the Deep South. This is indeed a fascinating corner of the country, with a very specific identity in and around character cities like Charleston in South Carolina, Savannah in Georgia, Montgomery in Alabama and New Orleans in Louisiana. This South-East corner of the US has significantly helped determine what the country is today, with poles of growth such as Miami and Houston in Florida and Texas, but also with the visible testimonies of the most tragic episodes in America's becoming and completion, from the Revolutionary War against Britain to the 'Trail of Tears' of Native Americans in Oklahoma, squeezed by pioneers and Land Runs; from the Civil War which divided the Nation over the slavery issue and ravaged it on both sides to, a century later, the civil rights movement of a certain preacher in Atlanta called Martin Luther King. And, of course, on a lighter note there is also Disney in Orlando, there is the festive attraction of the Florida Keys and the Gulf of Mexico beaches and there is the legacy of French 'beignets', Dixie music and Mississippi riverboats in New Orleans, in addition to the magnificent gardens of magnolias and azaleas surrounding elegant antebellum mansions on the grounds of yesteryear plantations of sugar and cotton. A whole lot of variety, spread out over eight different States.

* Scanned Slides, 1988-1990

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Impressions of the South-East, USA

Before visiting the place of your choice:

Usually one mentions around which year or decade a city was founded. Well, here we can be slightly more precise: Oklahoma City was founded in the afternoon of April 22nd, 1889. That is when a major Land Run was organised, with masses of pioneers legally allowed to hurry West and claim land in territory which had first been assigned to Native American tribes after forceful deportation from their traditional tribal grounds. In one afternoon more than 10,000 land claims were filed. Oklahoma City was born, right in the middle of the dry lands of the 'Dust Bowl'. The town tragically symbolises the humiliation and systemic devastation which were inflicted on entire peoples, a very very dark page of American history. The unspeakable harm and injustice cannot be undone, they can only be acknowledged. And just as well acknowledgement there is. Programmes are developed to bring back bisons to the prairies, the yesteryear lifeline of the Great Plains tribes and efforts have been made to recognise the tragedy and mass crime of the past. Only, it would have been more tactful if the fascinating museum housing the truly touching giant statue of the 'end of the trail of tears', evoking the deportations from Georgia and Florida to territories West of the Mississippi River in the early 19th century, had not been called the 'National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center'.

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