Andalusia: Part Three

You’re possibly fed-up with me at this point. Couldn’t this have been one blog post? Sure, but then I wouldn’t have the space to tell you about the Hungarian Bible Salesman that came calling on Joy/Hulga, err, I mean Flannery O’Connor, when she lived at Andalusia. The Bible Salesman loved Flannery, but the love wasn’t reciprocated and she sent him broken-hearted back to Hungary. Without an artificial limb.

Flannery and her mother inherited this farm as a dairy farm from Flannery’s uncle sometime around 1940. He wasn’t the first owner of Andalusia, which had been a plantation when he took it over in the early 1930s. He made it into a dairy farm, then when Flannery’s father died in 1941 from complications of Lupus, her mother made the decision to run it alone as a widow. Righteous.

The only piece of furniture in the house that predates the family is an absolutely hideous and disturbing sideboard that Flannery’s entire family hated and wanted removed, but she begged her uncle to keep it on account of the “pleasure of the hanging pig,” and so he did.

A dairy farm proved to be too demanding for Regina Cline O’Connor, so she made it into a beef farm. Beef cattle are easier to run than dairy cattle. She hired a family who moved into the house behind the main house, Hill House, and much like Mrs. Hopewell and Mrs. Freeman, the ladies would chat in the kitchen in the mornings as Flannery readied herself in her room, before entering the kitchen to make her way to the bathroom.

Flannery and her mother lived on the first floor of the house, as Flannery couldn’t successfully navigate the stairs. The original parlor of the house was turned into Flannery’s room and a second parlor was added on. The women’s bedroom’s were separated by Regina’s office, which housed, among other unique artifacts, an artist’s rendering of Jesus Christ that was signed by a Pope. Which Pope I can’t recall. I wish I could.

The second parlor housed a set of bookcases that her family hated so much, they sold them to a man in Savannah who drove up and picked them up while Flannery was away. When she returned, she immediately called the man in Savannah and purchased them back from him and he returned them post haste.

Thanks for going down this rabbit hole with me. I hope you are learning things you never knew before and I hope you don’t mind my foggy memory and horrible literary jokes. Remember, you are what you read…

M.

Andalusia: Part Two

Flannery O’Connor was an odd bird, pun intended. She once took a census of her Peafowl (plural of peahen and peacock) and she stopped at forty. Forty. She also hated classical music, stating that, “All classical music sounds the same.” True that, Flannery. But there was one particular song she liked her mother to play for her on the piano. It became somewhat of a party trick. When their house was full of guests, just after dinner, Flannery would open the hand-stitched peafowl curtains, and her mother would play this song, the name escapes me now, but the notes were so sharp that the peafowl would come running into the front yard screaming at the top of their lungs. So yeah, Flannery was my kinda lady.

As a child Flannery had a penchant for dressing her pet ducks up in little costumes that she made herself. Her mother, worried about her daughter’s odd behavior but was assured by many that she would outgrow it.

There were many small trinkets throughout the house, but the majority of the knickknacks were birds of some kind. Chickens, ducks, doves, and peafowl.

Bookcases and birds. That was the extent of Flannery’s bedroom. She kept a tight ship with all the rest. Her bed, desk, and chair were all within an arm’s reach so she wouldn’t need to rely on her crutches when she got around. Her bed was a single, with one small quilt on the top, and a cross next to the cradle Catholic’s window. Make that bookcases, birds, and God.

At one point she moved an armoire in front of her desk to shield her mother from her usually habit of slamming though the adjacent door when Flannery was trying to write, of which she did every day from the from between the hours of nine am and noon, just after a two-hour mass, just before she went into town for lunch. Because she refused to write looking at a window on account of possible distractions, as one might assume with 40 peafowl roaming, she didn’t mind staring at the back of the armoire when she wrote.

There are two peafowl at Andalusia now, Ms. Shortley and Astrid. They didn’t much care for me, and I for them. They are a particular bird, with a certain opinion of themselves that I did not share. Funny, peculiar, opinionated. The birds.

M.

Discovering Andalusia: Part one

I finally did it, I finally made a visit to Andalusia, Flannery O’Connor’s farm in Milledgeville, Georgia. It’s been on my list of places to visit since I found out about it a few years back, and it turns out to be about an hour and a half from my house now that we live in Atlanta. I’d planned to take a day trip over the spring, but Covid set me back, and it wasn’t until I had this looming Flannery O’Connor project for school that I decided to buck up and go. It turned out to be a lovely visit, with a knowledgeable docent and an all around pleasant , albeit warm, morning and early afternoon.

It’s just now apparent to me that I have so many pictures and so much to share, that it would probably be best if I told this in parts. So let’s get started.

I left Atlanta alone about 9:00 am, as I couldn’t talk Jackson into a trip to a dead writer’s house in the middle of Trump-Country Georgia on an unseasonably humid Southern day. Weird, I know. But it was best. I can’t say he would have enjoyed sitting on the front steps re-reading Good Country People, as much as I did.

I got to Andalusia just about ten minutes before the hourly tour started. It was very easy to find, just a straight shot down I-20, then onto Milledgeville Highway. There are ample signs the closer you get.

Traffic was light, and the drive was relaxing, even with the alarmingly high number of Trump signs I saw. These were my favorites…

The American flag really sets them off, huh? Basically, I could tell I wasn’t in Atlanta anymore. I had my windows down and was enjoying the nice back country roads vibe of Milledgeville Highway, until a man at a stoplight rolled up in a big lifted Chevy, looked over at me and said, “DeKalb County, huh?” With a cackle. I was waiting for the banjos to start as the light changed.

A little while later I was safely on the Andalusia grounds, where one would assume big Chevy truck guy was not headed.

Andalusia was gifted to Georgia College by the O’Connor estate in 2017, and since then they’ve been working hard to restore the farm. The house sits right off the Highway, just about a quarter-mile down a quaint, tree-lined dirt road, and although I had looked at pictures before going, I was still a little surprised at how nice the farmhouse had been kept. It’s quite pretty from the outside. And sets you at ease, putting you to mind of the old farm houses you picture your great-grandmother growing up in. Well, if she was a wealthy, white, Southern woman that is.

It’s getting late, and I have some tea to sip on the porch, so I’ll leave you here, with some more pictures of the outside of Andalusia, where after the tour I enjoyed some quiet reading time, while a noisy hawk nested on the large tree beside me (they most know birds of all kinds are always welcome at Andalusia), before heading back to the safety of the city.

Enjoy!

M.