Date of Award
My paternal grandfather, Larry Jean Hooper Sr. (Paw), died suddenly of a heart attack on a warm morning in early November while preparing to meet my father, Dana Hooper, at their small farm a short road trip from home. They had been best friends - together in work and in play - since before I was bom and through all I can remember. Blood flowed from one to the other and the roads flowed beneath both of them, through the marshes and prairies and the hills and mountains, to the top and back again more times than they could remember, and remembering - it was all Dad had after Paw died. On a rainy day in a smoky bar telling about that rainy camping trip in the Smoky Mountains and how miserably cold and wet they were in dank canvas tents. Dad said he would do anything for just one more trip like that... Late that next summer we left home for Colorado, but my research was already many years old. Stories of times not forgotten pervade my memory. I had been to the Rockies before I ever arrived there myself, or at least I felt as if I had. Only the landscape had to be filled in once I actually got there, and what a beautiful landscape it is. The mountains capped in white bite up through the green earth in colors varying from place to place and from time to time. Dawn and dusk look very different but always alive. It’s when the ascending evergreen forests release their cozy grasp on the fauna, leaving the verdant meadows teeming with life. Ifyou'rc lucky enough to be there, you feel part of it all. After hearing of Dad and Paw's lofty exploits as a young boy, I began reading and studying about the land, their land. My family was my inspiration, and National (ico<^ra/)l}ic was my guide. Research specific to “Colored Red" is simply an intensive extension of that; more stories heard and more literature read. But writing - I'm not sure w'hen that idea was bom. Perhaps it was always there, waiting for the right occasion to surface. Perhaps it was something as random as a heart attack that made me w^ant to chronicle the trip. I began wTiting journals and taking pictures soon after leaving, but 1 didn't tiy to document everything or anything specifically. Still, when examining my recordings, two themes dominate like twin peaks in the morning's first light: my family and the land. They arc inexorably linked. The river of life flows from the highlands and down through us all, eventually ending at the sea. “Colored Red” is my message in a bottle.
Hooper, Jordan Charles, "Colored Red: A Memoir and Memoriam" (2005). Honors Theses. 2030.