We screened the film Tomlinson Hill recently at Baylor University in Waco, and I was thrilled to see so many people from Marlin present. Afterward during the question and answer period, Lisa Kaselak and I got some hard questions about the choices we made in the film, all of them very thoughtful. One woman questioned whether we should have been more specific about how far Marlin is from Tyler, where we filmed an Aryan Nations rally. The answer is that the film is showing nationally, and most people viewing it outside of the state do not see much of a cultural difference between Marlin and Tyler. Another Marlin resident asked whether our film was making a meaningful contribution to the community, since much of the funding came from non-profit arts groups. All I could reply is that we have yet to make any money on this project, and the arts are a valid way to start a conversation and ultimately bring change to Falls County. Outsiders have offered dozens of economic development opportunities over the years, but until Marlin comes together as a single community, none of them will make any real difference.
One woman from Chilton arrived bearing a photo of my Great, Great, Great Uncle Augustus Tomlinson. Augustus was REL’s older brother and helped raise my great grandfather after their father James K. Tomlinson died in 1865. I will forever be grateful to Cynthia Montgomery for sharing this with me and allowing me to include it in the book. The photo was taken with Augustus’ wife Elizabeth Jane Landrum Tomlinson outside their house in Lott.