Monday, January 10, 2011

The Tryon Horse

In Tryon, North Carolina a horse symbolizes the town. I found the image of this white horse with black spots and a red halter almost everywhere I went during my MFA residency. It was present on liquor store flyers, brochures on sites to visit, and as a statue downtown--not far from the Nina Simone Plaza. While I immersed myself in all things literary, I discovered this Tryon Horse aka Morris with a hat size of 21 following me to Elmo's (home to a tasty rueben sandwich), then by NaNa's kitchen--where I devoured homemade green beans with boneless fried chicken. So, I asked myself, why the horse?

I opened the brochure entitled "Historic Downtown Tryon Walking Tour.". Inside, I plunged into the history of Tryon--the town known as "Nearly Perfect. Always Tryon." Morris, the first horse, "was built as an advertisement for the 1928 Harmon Field horse show. Drawn by Eleanor Vance, it was built by 17-year old student and master-builder, Meredith Lankford. Secretly called "Eleanor" by Lankford and his buddies to honor their teacher..." Eventually the name of the horse changed to Morris. Today, he presides downtown over all of Tryon.

I asked myself: Is there more to this story? Is there more to the image of a horse? What does this have to do with the people?

Historically, Tryon, North Carolina became a location of great interest for three reasons. First, for resorts, to offer horse rides and hiking on Hogback Mountain. Second, for health reasons, because of the tuberculosis scare occurring during the 1880s. Tryon offered mild winters and cool summers. Third, agriculture promises of orchards and vineyards enticed many.

I know I will go back. I will eat at Elmo's and NaNa's Kitchen. The haunting melody of Nina Simone will hover by my ear. I will gaze at Morris--the town guardian. I will feel nearly perfect.

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