On the walls, generals of the Southern army observe from their cadres the people who keep entering and leaving this universe dedicated to the glory of the Confederate army. Dent Myers’ landmark may smell musty, the store is busy.
It’s a refuge here, Tim Cleveland, in his early forties, told me:
It is a place where we still have the right to be proud of our Confederate ancestors and of what they did to defend their rights., he sighs.
There are no more shelters like this.
Kennesaw is a bright little town with colorful houses, located in the suburbs of Atlanta. Thirty thousand people, a small museum, a college, churches and an ice cream kiosk.
In short, a quiet place known above all for having adopted a by-law in the early 1980s requiring all homeowners to own a firearm. In his store, Dent Myers also sells t-shirts with the image of the city with guns on them.
Less than two weeks ago, Rosanne Boyland, 34, went shopping in Myers’ store.
She bought Trump flags, Confederate flags and stickers, remembers the old man who sells, in his Wildman’s civil war surplus a panoply of objects related to the American Civil War: books, costumes, bayonets, but also Donald Trump buttons, various Nazi badges or badges of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan).
She often came. Sometimes just to talk. She had problems. I was listening to him. But I’m discreet, I won’t tell you what it was about. The last time she came to see me, she was going to Washington to demonstrate against the stolen election, says Myers, also convinced by the rhetoric of the Trumpist camp.
Rosanne Boyland never returned to see Dent Myers. In fact, she never returned to Kennesaw. She died in the January 6 riot at the Washington Capitol. The exact details surrounding his death are not yet known, but Myers is serene:
she would be proud to have died there, in Washington, to defend her principles, he said.
I hope where she is, she is happy.
In the Kennesaw store, the heartbreaks that the United States is going through are seen as a sort of fate.
We were annexed by the people of the North, we were conquered during the civil war. We never had anything to do together. What is happening right now is a manifestation of this incompatibility, Myers firmly believes.
Charlie, a young customer who came to buy an antique pistol, believes that the solution to the political problems would be an amicable separation:
The United States has never been united. We should recognize this and form smaller states before it escalates like in the Balkans.
When leaving, the owner of the place shows me a copy of an old copy of the Capital Karl Marx and ironically tells me he’s preparing for Joe Biden’s diet.
I thought back to Rosanne Boyland and her Facebook feed on which she used to make this type of joke, there was, for example, a drawing of Joe Biden caricatured in Joseph Stalin.
In the last Senate election, Cobb County, in which Kennesaw is located, brought two Democrats to power. Jon Ossoff, a young Jew, and Raphael Warnock, a black pastor won the election with 56% of the vote against the Republican candidates. The population changes, so do the ideas.
Not far from the 50-year-old Dent Myers shop, 24-year-old Danielle Both runs the Simmer Time café. She is sorry for this neighbor who symbolizes a political culture that disturbs her.
I am ashamed, she says.
But I console myself by telling myself that it is very old, that it will disappear soon, that it is almost already a thing of the past.
However, the ideas circulating in this anachronistic place are those which animated thousands of rioters last week in Washington.
Danielle did not know Rosanne Boyland and wonders why a young woman from her quiet, smart and pretty little town went to protest and then die on the Capitol.
We are nice people here, peaceful, warm and welcoming. However, Danielle says that politics has become a taboo subject in the area.
We don’t dare talk about it. You never know what people really think, it’s very tense. People are scared. What will happen now?