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Four Presidents and a Buffalo

Benjamin at Keystone, South Dakota, 1968

Benjamin at Keystone, South Dakota, 1968, photo courtesy of the Grahams

Let it be known that I would love to think that someone might have missed reading new blog posts written by me. Between my big birthday and the world happening x 100, I have been short of posting words. Not to say that I have had no thoughts at all, or that these thoughts weren’t relevant to Everyone But Two’s underlying theme of race in America, or that I will not at some point address how I feel about the events that have transpired. I may, however, choose to express those opinions in a platform that makes more sense to be political. With that being said, I can at least attest to the fact that sans politics, current events have confirmed the importance of telling the story of the Grahams, as the focus of race relations intensifies in the public eye as witnessed each day on the news. As much as most would like to live in a post-racial society, the last 2 months has demonstrated that race does matter.

Frances at Wall Drug, Wall, South Dakota, 1968, photo courtesy of the Grahams

Three sleep nights (but who is counting – yikes!!) and Thomas and I will load up the car and hit the road for our third trip. If you recall, several months ago, I mentioned that Mount Rushmore would be our destination this year. I also mentioned that for whatever reason, in my mind, besides retracing a place that the Grahams visited, I think this footage can be the key ingredient for an effective trailer. Once the trailer is completed, I can use it to apply for major production funds and or support that could be the difference of finishing the documentary in another year vs. years. Here is the train of thought: the sentiment of retracing my grandparent’s travel could be quickly recognized if I can edit myself and the Grahams physically in the same location within seconds, separated only by decades in a moving image. The more I watch documentary trailers for research, the more I realize that within 3 minutes, you have to tell that same compelling story in an abbreviated period of time as you would during the full feature. That translates into making every second count.

Copy of hand drawn map by Grahams, 1968 trip, courtesy of the Grahams

Fatefully, July 15, 1968, 48 years to the day (plus 2 when we leave) the Grahams began a trip that lasted 28 days, spanning 5,067 miles. My grandfather had not yet started the spreadsheet of data recorded for their trips, but he had started to include a summary sheet with general information along with a hand drawn route on a map. Within the month long trip, he noted that they traveled to West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. According to them, Mount Rushmore was not on their list of stops, but instead they happened to stumble upon it. How this happens, I still don’t know. Who stumbles across a monument of 4 president’s heads carved out of the face of a mountain?

Graham daughters at Mount Rushmore, 1968, photo courtesy of the Grahams

Unlike the Grahams, Thomas and I are purposefully going to Mount Rushmore and as I look at their map, the route we are taking is similar but in reverse. Our trips will include stops in Indiana, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois. That is the framework, with a lot of loose possibilities in between. The main points of interests will be the specific places that the Grahams have documented by film, photograph and log; plenty of state and national parks.

I shall make no promise of blogging in real time while on the road. Last year’s trip to Hawaii and Alaska was a refreshing change from the hectic attempt at being current as I attempted on trip one. I will have my trusty notepad to download my thoughts and I look forward to bringing the words to life in an unhurried way upon my return. There is big, wonderful world out there to explore and I can’t wait to see what it has in store for us!

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