11/21/2012 6:00:00 AM Crowd greets Hilda Stuart for book signing at depot
By STEVEN THOMAS Staff Reporter
Over 200 people greeted Hilda Stuart at the depot last week where she signed copies of her new book of photographs titled "Choctaw Gardens."
She was joined by her daughter Jennifer, son Marty Stuart and his wife Connie Smith.
The images in "Choctaw Gardens" not only trace the lives of Stuart and her family, they also highlight the technological advancements in photography in the 20th century through an abrupt shift from black and white to color photographs.
During the book signing, Marty Stewart recounted growing up in Neshoba County and some of the events that led to his interest in music and travel.
One event, he recalled, was meeting a hobo who appeared to be well traveled with long hair and wearing clothes from another time.
"Now look at me," he said. "I've traveled, have long hair and wear clothes from another time."
Stuart was later joined by his wife, mother and longtime friend Butch Hodgins as the group performed Smith's famous song "Wings of a Dove."
Before the signing, Hilda Stuart was asked several questions about the book by Neil White, the publisher.
She recalled watching her grandmother's baptism when during the event, the clouds suddenly parted and the sun shone down on her.
"Unfortunately, I didn't have a camera," she said. "I promised myself I'd always have one for every occasion."
When asked if she had a favorite picture in the book, Hilda said those from her cousin's baptism and the Grand Ole Opry were her favorites.
She noted that the photos were taken and then the negatives were stored for years before she pulled them back out.
White asked the two Stuart children if they had a favorite with Marty recalling a photo where he, as a child, was staring at a pet bird on top of the head of the man who later gave him his first guitar.
"Chichi," said Marty when asked what the name of the bird was.
Hilda added that taking that photo took awhile because "birds just don't listen well."
Hilda also received several questions from the audience, including Steve's on the Square owner Steve Wilkerson who asked if there would be a second book.
"I thought about it but we'll have to see if everyone likes this one as much as we do," Hilda said.
Attendees were able to purchase a copy of the book and then wait in line for Smith, Hilda and daughter Jennifer to sign their copies.
Marty however didn't wait in line, instead opting to walk around, meeting and greeting visitors, signing their books along the way.
Kaye Rowell, tourism director, noted that over 200 people attended the event.
"We were blown away," she said. "It was one of the biggest events we've had. It was fabulous."