New Bern

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Bayard Wootten and a simple message on a stormy night


Bayard Wootten is one of the most interesting characters to have been born and raised up on the banks of the Neuse River. 


She was born in the Louisiana House on East Front Street in 1876 to (photographer) Rufus Morgan and Mary Devereux Clark.  Bayard's grandmother was the reknown NC poetess, Mary Bayard Clark.   Bayard's neighbor around the corner from the Louisiana House was Caleb Bradham, the inventor of Pepsi Cola. 

Bayard Wootten is credited with having designed the very first Pepsi logo

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Bayard Wootten's photographs of life in North Carolina seem to release the message of time.

One is able to perceive within the context of her photographs more than a story--there are many layers of stories.  Her portrayals are forever sharp and forever clean. The facial portraits are the most amazing to me. 

 It is our great fortune that these photographs are left to us as a legacy.

On a recent night I picked up my camera for a walk along the shores of the Trent River. We (my camera and I) headed ourselves toward the Hilton Marina. There I noticed a slow black cloud easing over the River from the skies of the East. I was at that moment thinking about Bayard and how I wanted to capture the elements of what was happening over the river-- the "spirit" of the content-- as she called it.

This is what happened instead! 

A fire hydrant depicting "Bayard Wootten" appeared before my eyes! Beside the hydrant nested in a tuft of pine bark was a tiny clam shell on which was a hand painting-- a  red heart encircled with stars.  I picked up the shell and turned it over for inspection.  I found texted within the cup of the shell a clean message which seemed to be coming from Bayard Wootten herself.  The message read as follows:
"God Bless"
These strange coincidences seem to happen to me often here in New Bern-- where the Two Rivers Meet!

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