Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Troubadour Tramps Through the Mountains - 15

Just this time, I'm jumping ahead to Vachel Lindsay's travels in Tennessee. This is why I like him. From A Handy Guide for Beggars:

The Tailor And The Florist

Now the story begins all over again with the episode of the well-known tailor and the unknown florist. Just off the main street of Greenville, Tennessee, there is a log cabin with the century old inscription, Andrew Johnson, Tailor. That sign is the fittest monument to the indomitable but dubious man who could not cut the mantle of the railsplitter to fit him.

I was told by the citizens of Greenville that there was a monument to their hero on the hill. So I climbed up. It was indeed wonderful — a weird straddling archway, supporting an obelisk. The archway also upheld two flaming funeral urns with buzzard contours, and a stone eagle preparing to screech. There was a dog-eared scroll inscribed, "His faith in the people never wavered." Around all was, most appropriately, a spiked fence.

But I was glad I came, because near the Tailor's resting-place was a Florist's grave, on which depends the rest of this adventure, and which reaches back to the beginning of it. It had a wooden headstone, marked "John Kenton of Flagpond, Florist. 1870-1900." And in testimony to his occupation, a great rosebush almost hid the inscription. Any man who could undertake to sell flowers in Flagpond might have it said of him also, "His faith in the people never wavered."

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