Sharing Pearlington

A subsidiary Blog of our Main Blog, located at and presenting words and images of Pearlington. Sharing the series: "Focus On..." * "Back Home Again" * "A Volunteer's Tale" and other human interest stories.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

That House in Pearlington: Part II

Much thanks to Danielle and all for their great articles. I wish I would have been there when they were at the house.

My wife and I purchased the house in 1995, had done a lot of improvements on it, and ran a small plant business called Gardner's Greenhouse. She did the planting, growing, etc and I did the leg work. She passed in 2003, and I kept the business going until the storm.

I was in the house when Katrina hit and the water went from my feet to over my head in about twenty minutes. I knocked out the window over the back door, swam out with three dogs out one at a time, and spent two days on my deck, which had broken lose until the water went down. There was a cat left in the house that somehow survived and we all are presently in Dallas. I do go down every couple of weeks and have just about gotten everything worth saving and brought it back to Dallas for refurbishing.

I plan to start working on the getting the rest of the junk out and see what can be done with the house after the holidays. The house itself is sound, but needless to say the inside is pretty trashed and will need extensive repair. I doubt in my lifetime it will happen, but I can try. The lady that sent me the article, also has a 100 year old house there and working on is as time permits.

There is a great deal of history in the area, and unfortunately I lost my books on the area which were rare and limited additions. The country's largest sawmill was located there at one time and during the Civil War solders camped there. Wonder how they survived the "Bugs"? When I was sown a couple of weeks ago, they ate me up.

We do appreciate and thank all the volunteers who have come to the area and there is no way we can repay your kindness. Everybody have a Merry Christmas and a Fun New Year and I'll be looking forward to meeting you one of these days should you pass our way again.

Above and below are pictures of my refugees.

With Love and Many Thanks Again,
Tony Gardner
Dallas, TX

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

That House: Danielle Larsen, 16

The first time I saw it I knew it would live in my mind forever. The house was yellow, a soft yellow with white trim. The front yard was covered in large oak trees, with branches reaching in every direction inviting your gaze toward the house. This house seemed just like home to me. It was an older home, built around the early 1900’s or the late 1800’s. It was gorgeous. A fence surrounded the whole house, with an elaborate iron gate. Out of all of the destruction in Pearlington, Mississippi this house caught my attention, like a diamond in the rough.

It was our last day in Pearlington after a week of painting, cleaning, dry walling, taping and floating. The scorching heat reminded us that it was early October. I asked my Dad if we could go and explore the house, the one that was constantly picture in my mind. So Melissa, my Dad and I hopped out of the car and stepped over the fence. Since Hurricane Katrina, the bugs have been worse than ever. We stepped outside and were eaten alive by swarms of them. They were even worse when we stood by the house to take pictures. It appeared that no one had come back to the house since the storm and we were their first meal.

While looking at the house, I remembered the first time I had seen it. My initial glimpse was during my second trip to Pearlington in late May. As we drove to the Distribution Center I saw it on the right and did a double take, but in a flash we had turned the corner and it was gone. I remembered how the house just captured my heart. I became attached to it for some unknown reason. We began walking through the yard and stepped over the trees lying across the ground. To our left was a toppled light pole and an over-turned bench. When I saw these I thought of all the memories this place held before the storm.

As I took my first step on the porch I thought of the people that once filled this house. Then I said out loud and half to myself, “Wow, this house must have been tough to leave, with all of their belongings still inside, not to mention it’s just beautiful.”

We walked down the olive green hall looking into each room and staring in awe at the remains of a family’s life. Each room was white and boasted it’s own fireplace. Each wall contained a watermark roughly a foot from the lofty 12-foot ceiling. There were papers scattered over the floor, which was also covered in a layer of mud. As we looked harder we spotted pictures of their life before the storm, pictures from a life they left behind. All their furniture was scattered and strewn everywhere. And at the end of the hall was an elaborate grandfather clock leaning in the corner; its face was splattered with mud and stopped at exactly 7:44.

We explored this house like the “it” in hide and seek. We had no idea what we were looking for, but we were looking for something. It was an eerie feeling walking through the halls, but exciting at the same time. We touched nothing; removed nothing.

Although it was just a house, it taught me what the people of Pearlington had to come back to after the storm, or in this case, left behind. This house is my connection to Pearlington. I always remember this house when I think about Pearlington and wonder when I will get to go back and see it and potentially figure out as much as I can about it. It beckons me to not forget the people in Pearlington and draws me back to see what, if anything, has changed.

Danielle is a volunteer with The BRICK Layers of Alabama.

[Let's help her out. If you can identify the owners of this home, please contact me and I will forward the name to Danielle. Thanks. - ED.]