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Saturday, February 28, 2009

OLD TOBACCO BARNS - DIMINISHING USE

Once used for tobacco curing and storage these old barns are becomming relics of the past.
Usually found with metal roofs and painted black or left a natural gray.
Tobacco is subsidized not to be grown therefore little can be found growing in Kentucky today.

Once a top cash crop -- now just the barns are left as a reminder. These photos were taken in Rockcastle County, Kentucky. For NPR's story on tobacco barns as relics of the past click here.
Prairie Bluestem also has stories on Kentucky barns.

Comments or stories about barns welcome!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

WINTER BIRD SIGHTING

THRUSH

TANAGER

RAVEN

RAIL

MERGANSER

GROSBEAK AND CARDINAL

I thought I would stop by my favorite local used bookstore, Robie and Robie, and pick out some winter reading. Located in Berea, Kentucky and locally owned, the place is stocked with vintage books to slightly used to new.

When inside, I came upon this large book back in the far corner. It was amazing with its beautiful book-plates of birds. There was a total of 106 plates, approx. 11 by 7 that would be great framed if I could dare to take them out of the book. The colors are so vibrant! Naturalist and artist of the plates, Louis Agassiz Fuertes, was born in 1874. Fuertes influenced Roger Tory Peterson a well known artist of wildlife art that passed away in 1996.

For $12.00, the cost of the used book, I am just going to sit inside and let the winter and wind chill while I stay warm and comfortable enjoying the birds inside. Experience a sample of the prints above.

COUNTRY POST OFFICE

I happened to be out in the countryside last fall and noticed this building at a T in the road. Here I was in Kentucky glacing at this building which made me feel like I was back in the Southwest. The architecture was reflective of the Southwest yet here it was in the Upland South.

It was old and empty and showed signs that it had been that way for awhile. Across the front of the high false facade I read United States Post Office but I couldn't make out the name of this particular post office. Since I was out in a rather desolate part of the countryside (except for several large horse farms) there was no one near to ask.

This particular post office could have been originally used for some other business, then changed over to accommodate the post office use. Several questions about the building left me scratching my head. The southwest design was especially perplexing? The roof was oxidized metal, the false facade had a multiple stepped design up its side and the full-length front porch had peeled log uprights, all these traits were much like the buildings one might find in New Mexico.

I lived for a short period in Glorieta, New Mexico I was out in the mountains. No mail delivery -- you had to go to the post office to pick-up your mail. The Glorieta post office was a tiny old building that was once a railroad station. It sat along a rail line that still operated but did not stop any longer in Glorieta. This was the place where you got to know who your neighbors were. Instead of photos of criminals on the walls you had neighborhood announcements such as a dogs for sale, car sales, community picnics, rummage sales etc. Made me feel safe that the Glorieta post office didn't feel the need to post the criminals.

Perhaps, at one time, this Kentucky post office located at the T on a country road served the same purpose for the surrounding community in the hills? A place to gather, say hello, catch up on gossip or happenings in the area? Perhaps here there was no need for criminal's photos either?

Now is stands abandoned -- a desolate look to it. If this Kentucky post office place did serve the community at one time, like the Glorieta post office did for me, where did its sense of place go off to?

In my future haunts I will keep a look out for these vernacular buildings that serve as post offices. I have several questions about those that are no longer and those that still are working establishments.

Are you familiar with any of these types of off-beat post offices where you live? Would be great to hear about them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

ANTIQUE SHOPS NOW ANTIQUES

An old fading business sign that once stood for a sole proprietorship antique business

Highway 25, between the Kentucky towns of Mount Vernon and Berea, has for many years had antique shops running along side of it. Most have disappeared or now stand as old sentinels of what was. They were essentially run as sole proprietorship's rather than the new mode of selling antiques in malls. Malls being stores with many individual booths inside, each one having a different business owner. The result of this business arrangement allows many small business owners to have more free hours away from their business. These photos are illustrative of shops that sold antiques under the one-ownership establishments. Today this way of doing business is a dying way of selling antiques. Below is a tiny old vertical board building with a remnant of its business -- Antiques -- painted on an old metal Royal Cola sign.
Below is a building dying on the vine -- once a vibrant one-owner business selling antiques.