Confluence

I leave for the Red Cross orientation in a few hours, after another night where I didn’t sleep well. I think much of this is my lack of anticipation in taking my roommate to work and having to face that awful I-64 corridor.

Yesterday I borrowed the car and drove to where the Ohio river meets the Mississippi, to get photos and do research for a new project of mine (more to be discussed at a later time). I needed to get out of the house and the long drive gave me a chance to think on the future.

I have more or less made a decision to move this coming spring, after the dogwoods lose their blooms. As much as I love this area, I need to re-start my career as both a technology writer as well as technologist; this means moving closer to the action.

(I’m also finding out that I really miss the ocean. Even if I didn’t move, I’d be making a trip to the Northwest anyway. Need an ocean fix.)

I’m hoping to move either to Boston or Seattle late Spring; most likely Seattle, though this is dependent on amount of work. To prepare, I’m upgrading many of my old certificates, and refreshing my knowledge of Big Honking Infrastructure Technologies–otherwise known as .NET and J2EE.

In the meantime, I want to absorb as much of this area as I can, starting with the trip yesterday to Cairo, Illinois. I’m putting up some of the photos from the trip at Flickr and will incorporate a few here. I’ll also have more to write later, but it was a rather disturbing trip, as you can see from some of the pictures. There is more to the South than Mardi Gras, Blues, Cajun cooking, and white guys with confederate flags in the back of their trucks.

Welcome
Tenth Street

Gem Theater
Eighth Street

Cairo had two strongly distinctive faces. On the one hand, there’s been an attempt to restore much of the history of the town, including its many unusual buildings: some dating from the Civil War when General Grant was stationed in the community. On the other hand, the poverty of the people manifests in the many boarded up and abandoned buildings, some used as wild cat havens; or destroyed by tornado and just left, fallen in the streets. There is no yellow tape around the remains, no warnings of danger. You could walk in the middle of the street, and no one would care–other than walk 8th street, and the people are white; a block over, they’re entirely black.

Mansion Two
Historical society mansion

Mansion One
Glory days gone

Imagine, also, a finger of land about a mile wide, bordered by two of the biggest, fiercest rivers in the country; accessible by one bridge going to Missouri, the other, a 1/4 mile away, to Kentucky. What land there is, is the richest in the world; top soil a hundred feet deep, as one would expect from the northernmost point of the Mississippi Delta. To this geography, add a Civil War history, turn of the century opulence giving away to extreme poverty and race riots. This is Cairo, Illinois–named after the city in Egypt, with all the same hopes of grandeur. This is the South.

river barge
Barge heading from the Ohio to the Sip

More later after I return from the Red Cross.

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5 Responses to Confluence

  1. I vote for Seattle. Good luck in the search!

  2. Dawn says:

    Thank you for sharing your visit of Cairo, Illinois. My boyfriend and I got off Interstate 57 late last night and ended up in Cairo, and have been so terribly haunted by it, and discussed it all the way home to Milwaukee. It was like a Twilight Zone episode, and we were truly frightened and disturbed by what we saw, but mostly saddened and wanting to learn more about the fate of this town. If you have any more photos, I’d love if you would share them with us. I’ve written a lengthy journal entry about Cairo, and would like to revisit it again soon… it has really captured my heart.

  3. Tom says:

    We moved from the Midwest to Seattle 7 years ago – best decision ever. I was interested in looking up info about Cairo (never been there) It must be a fascinating place. One web site I viewed predicted that the town would die within 15 years. Can’t imagine what it would be like to raise a family there. Take care and thanks for your website.

    Tom S

  4. Johnny B. says:

    I grew up in Illinois in the 1960s and remember the race riots in Cairo in 1967 and 1969 and the white flight that followed. The town went from a bustling community of 11,000, about 70% white, to a bombed-out, burned-out, shuttered, near ghost town of about 3,600, about 70 percent black. They have a great high school basketball team, despite the fact that the school is nearly bankrupt, they don’t have weight or training rooms and seldom hold home games because teams from other towns are afraid to enter Cairo. Amazing that such decline could take place in an incredible location at the confluence of two of America’s great waterways and along a major North-South Interstate highway.

  5. Shelley says:

    Johnny, thank you so much for that history. It has helped me remember why I started this weblog.