“For through wisdom your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.”
The photo is of A. S. “Sid” Morgan, maybe taken in 1973, maybe his 90th birthday. I suppose I could try to count the candles. If it was 1973, he would die less than a month later.
This is the kind of photograph that inspires stories, spurs the imagination of a writer. But Sid lived the adventures. He built boats and floated down the Mississippi on hunting expeditions back in the early 1900s. In 1926, he opened a museum that over the years became legendary.
You’d never guess he lived that kind of life from the picture. He looks tired. The house he’s in, once a proud mansion on the bottom land near the Kanawha River, looks tired. I was in the house many times as a child and the memories are still strong. Unusual memories. The smell of the soft, slowly decaying wood of the front porch, patches of tin covering the holes. The feel of the air in the house. Cool, until you walked into the kitchen and the gas heaters overwhelmed with stuffy warmth and lingering fumes. And the quiet. Sometimes the house was full of people, full of kids, but I remember the times where it was only Mom and Sid, our family visiting quietly, the stillness of it all unsettling.
It’s gone now. The house demolished shortly after Sid’s death. Across from where the house sat is the massive John Amos Power Plant. No hint of what happened there years ago.
But the stories are still there, just waiting to be written.