As I walk up one flight of stairs to my second floor office in the Hunter Building above The Silver Lake Ballroom in Downtown Shreveport, I pass a framed black and white survey of the area from the 1873. This used to be an actual lake. Silver Lake to be precise, complete with Native American lore.
A few years back, an older gentleman came to my front door to tour our home in South Highlands. I was amazed as he told us stories of growing up in our house in the 1950's. His small hand prints are still visible in the concrete of our back patio.
The intersection of place and story draws us in, sending us the world over. We gawk at brown historical markers, pointing out what happened where. We're curious and somehow we know that the criss cross of our stories across time and space makes for a very peculiar alchemy of vital progress. Something happened once here. Maybe it will happen again. We're pretty sure things are happening now. Maybe all these details and faces and dates line up to point to an invisible thread connecting us all to cosmic meaning.
The story of a home is especially weighty. Homes are at the center of how things get started and how things end. Homes can give us roots, grounding us, giving us not only a place to belong, but a contextual frame in which our stories play themselves out.
I recently photographed the Calahan family at their home in Shreveport at 305 Forest Avenue. Way back in the 1920's, then attorney Huey P. Long built this home for his family with the sudden windfall that came his way after winning a case against Commercial National Bank. Desinty Calahan had shown me a photo of Long and his wife and three kids on the porch.
We remade the photo, almost 100 years later. Different family, same house.
Huey P Long, Rose McConnell Long, and their three children sit on the front porch of their Shreveport, Louisiana home in the mid 1920's at 305 Forest Ave. Long was the 40th Governor of Louisiana.
Blaine Calahan, Destiny Calahan, and their three children sit on the front porch of their Shreveport, Louisiana home in the early 2020's at 305 Forest Ave.
God only knows what tragedy and triumph these walls have seen in the past century. For now, it's filled with happy and charming children, a beautiful family and a lot of life. Roots are growing down as these children grow up. It's the Calahan's turn to give it all a go.
My office landlord stopped showed me the corner office one day. It was Huey P Long's at one point, he told me. Of course it was.
I guess it's my turn in this place, too.
What will I do?
"That you are here—that life exists and identity,That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse."