There is this red dirt drive just off the highway, some place east of Fort Benning, Georgia. If you are speeding or lost in dreams yet unrealized, you’ll surely miss it. You might not even notice the sign declaring Floria’s Folk Art Gallery. Or the circle-board painted blue declaring Jesus is Soon to Return. Drive by too quickly and you’ll miss entirely the Letter from Hell.
Back in 2007, the first time I met Floria, there was only a small sign outside the shop. If Floria hadn’t been wearing her signature floral hat and busily working on a project outdoors, I would have missed her then. Thankfully, I have mastered my mama’s technique of stopping on the dime and giving nine-cents change. That first time, I came away from Floria’s with a picture of an African American girl reading a book. It sits in the frame Floria painted atop a bookshelf in my office. It cheers me, that painting does, and serves as a reminder of the places I’ve been and the people I met along the way.