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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

1936 LITHOGRAPHS -- STARK BRO'S NURSERIES AND ORCHARDS

In 1936 the nation was deep into the Great Depression. Gardens and orchards were prized for family food rather than as a hobby pastime. Stark Bro's Nursery and Orchards was well established with nursery and orchard stock during this time. In 1936 they had been in business for approximately 121 years. Sales men traveled extensively to sell their products. One of the sales tools that they used was called a Plate Book. It was a visual delight -- packed full of lithographs of stock to order.

Since garden season is close upon us I thought I would post the beautiful lithos of their Plate Book that I picked up years ago. Perhaps it will get your juices going to plant some fruit trees, vines, or bushes. Following is a parade of some pages from the 1936 Salesman's Plate Book.

ALBERTA PEACHES

GRAPES

MIXED FRUIT

MIXED FRUIT

PEARS

APPLES
For a well researched history of the Stark Brothers Nursery click here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

OLD FOLK ART WHIRLY

WHIRLY HANGING AS IT WOULD HAVE HUNG ON A PORCH AT ONE TIME
Recently a new friend, that I've met since moving to Kentucky a little over two years ago, surprised me with a great gift as she knew that I liked folk art. I liked a particular folk piece that she owned and she just up and gave it to me. What a kind and generous gesture. I thought I would put it on a post as it has a bit on history. Karen, my new friend, is a native Kentuckian and can tell stories about Kentucky folks that are intriguing.

WHIRLY LAYING HORIZONTALLY ON MY WORKTABLE DETAILING ITS SPIRAL
When she was a small girl she remembers a whirly (also referred to as whimsy) like the one she gave me, being on a family member's covered back porch. Ten years ago she had the opportunity to buy this Kentucky whirly from Rockcastle County, Kentucky as it reminded her of that long ago family whirly.

CLOSE-UP SHOWING HOW PIECES ARE PAINTED ON EACH SIDE
The whirly is chunky materially and whimsical in nature. Old paint colors of mustard and barn red decorate the whirly. It appears that it probably was placed in a sheltered place outdoors as the paint has remained in fairly good shape.

My question is -- was this type of folk art regional to Appalachia? Karen remembers whirlys from about forty years ago. What time-line were these old whirlys on in the world of folk art?

Each individual piece of wood is eight inches long and is positioned horizontally on a vertical rod. Each piece is made of one inch by one-half inch dimensional wood and is attached to the vertical rod through a hole running through the middle of each wood piece. The wood pieces are painted barn red on one side of each piece and mustard on the other side. When arranged on the rod they are arranged into a spiral. Very folksy in feeling, the old whirlys were done in different lengths and colors or no color according to Karen. The length of this whirly is just under 20 inches long.

ROD SCREW FOR ROD AT BOTTOM -- ALSO A SCREW IS AT TOP FOR THE ROD
An old end screw shows how the rod was run through the middle of the whirly. How old this whirly piece is cannot be told. Lots of age to the piece. I am sure it provided lots of smiles for the original owners. I expect it will for me too during the coming years.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

CELTIC "KICK UP MY HEELS"

Today is a "Celtic Kick Up My Heels" day for me. After being property bound for almost a week I am going to town. You see I live on a ridge that has a private road up to my home. It is steep in one little spot, but that one little spot can be mighty slick when we have snow. So I usually stay inbound for about a day until the temps rise and I can go about my business around the country-side.

But this darn weather with its continuous snow, low temps and overcast has kept the road too icy to venture forth and as a result I have been home bound for about six days (don't have four wheel drive!). Really no big deal one might say. Yet, this has been "off and on" weather around here in Kentucky for a few months and I am now suffering with "cabin fever."

Today is sunny! And I am going to try and make a break for town. Wish me luck. I have avoided news during these latter days as it is so depressing. Why add to my diminished state of mind -- corporate shenanigans, political bickering, affairs by who cares, and all the constant trivia that emanates from the media.

Now that I know that I am going to get in my car and make a break out from the "cabin," I will wish every kind and generous person a good day with a little of my heritage music from a youtube video. Good Day.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SELF TAUGHT FOLK ARTIST'S BIRDHOUSE

With his eye for design and his hands for crafting, Wayne Wolfinger of Lansing Michigan created a birdhouse for his yard that was meant to resemble his home. Self-taught Wayne can work in just about any medium to achieve lively pieces. This birdhouse is made of scrap metal.

The top photo is the front of the birdhouse and the bottom photo is the back. Wanye crafted the birdhouse about twenty years ago. He maintains the house paint and has the pleasure of birds occupying it most seasons.

Monday, February 15, 2010

1928 LATTICE WOOD CLOTHES-LINE POLE

Align CenterWOOD LATTICE CLOTHES POLE
Several years ago I found a 1928 catalog of wood lattice items designed for outdoors use around unpretentious homes. It was put out by the Barker Lumber & Fuel Company in Plymouth, Wisconsin. During the twenties, lattice work was all the rage for outdoor furnishings. The catalog blended both useful and ornamental together.

One would not expect that even a clothes pole would be included in the ornamentation of a yard but above is the one pictured in the catalog. In the past, when most homes had a wood clothes pole (or post as some say), they were of various designs, some very standard and some unique. If one keeps their eyes open around old homesteads they just might find an old pole design. Today, there is a growing need to have this utilitarian pole resurrected for saving energy by hanging clothes out once again.

Some home associations have laws forbidding hanging out clothes in the yard but some association homeowners are taking the issue to court to reestablish their right to hang out their wash.

Just in case you want to resurrect this particular pole (photo above) here is the text of the lumber and fuel catalog describing how the pole is to be constructed:
It is six feet high above the ground. The top cross piece is three and one-half inches square and forty-eight inches long. Lattice is of one inch by two-inch strips dressed.
Easy huh?

Want to get a good night sleep? Try fresh line-dried linens on your bed! Their scent is like an aphrodisiac.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

EAST MEETS WEST SUSTAINABILITY

SCARECROWS IN JAPAN

Sustainability is a word that gets tossed around quite a bit lately. Current usage seems to encompass the idea that one can be sustainable on a piece of land, large or small, and live well. Self-sustainability seems to be the mantra of the day.

Yet recently I read an article in Fall 2008 Mother Earth News magazine of a couple that live in Japan and practice a Japanese form of sustainability called community-sustainability. With self-sustainability one is more or less inward thinking, individualistic, about his food production on the land, while in Japan the idea of community-sustainability means that it is grown communally with neighbors of all ages. The elderly are especially prized in such an endeavor as they carry wisdom of planting, harvesting, and types of plants that grow well in the their environment.


HOMEMADE SCARECROW, BEREA COMMUNITY GARDENS, KENTUCKY

In the sixties, here in the states communal living was popular and some communes grew produce

communally. With time, communes fell by the wayside. Today, my question is why neighborhoods can’t become communal when it comes to raising a garden, modeling after the Japanese idea of community-sustainability. Much would be gained from this idea as the whole of the community would have common interests and a sharing of production.

This seems to be a better method then striking out on ones own to learn from the bottom up. Why reinvent the wheel when there are people in your community that have much wisdom when it comes to gardening.


HOMEMADE SCARECROW, MADISON COUNTY, KENTUCKY

Now I am quite sure that community-sustainability is practiced in some parts of the U.S. but it just doesn’t go by that name. The closest idea to this is community gardens that some cities and towns have begun for the citizens in their area. However, the participants of these gardens don’t necessarily share a common neighborhood. My feeling is that we would be wise to covert the name of self-sustainability to community- sustainability and promote harmony based on gardens and other wisdom ideas. Not that everyone would agree on everything but dialogue and working with each other promotes harmony.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

BLACK BARN TERRITORY

BLACK TOBACCO BARNS SPREAD OUT ACROSS THE LANDSCAPE

Lately I have been thinking about barns and the colors they are painted. I was raised in Michigan and Michigander's barns are, for the most part, painted red. When I drive across Nebraska and Iowa it seems to me that white barns are in the majority. And here in Kentucky black barns are everywhere. Now these calculations are not scientific. It's just the feelings that I get in the different areas I have been exposed to across the nation.

These barn thoughts returned to me today as I was driving down a country road called Highway 21 in Madison County, Kentucky. The air was whitish-gray with a misty fog accompanied by a light grayish overhead sky. These weather conditions created a steely day, from top to bottom. I was in the vicinity of a small crossroads town called Big Hill. I glanced at the surrounding barns -- all painted black. The starkness of the black barns against the day created a surreal impression.

But, back to barn colors. Another color comes to mind when I think of barns and that is yellow. I have not seen it used often. I cannot think of any other colors for barns except white, black, red, and yellow and a no color, a la natural. Why not purple, green, or blue? Or are these colors used someplace I am unaware of? So I now have a question of which I can't seem to find a good answer. I know that the colors of barns are a folkway -- expressing the character and personality of the area over time. My question is why are certain colors dominant in some areas while not in others? Who started all this area favoritism of barn colors?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

FARM AND GARDEN FOLKWAYS

FOR SALE -- CURED COUNTRY HAMS HANGING FROM THE STORE'S RAFTERS

Country stores were once found in all rural towns and villages across Kentucky. They were part of the community that gave it a sense of place. Here one could buy supplies of all sorts, usually pick up their mail, and also catch up on the latest news in the community. Today at the Montgomery Farm and Garden store one can still find many of the old country store folkways -- like hanging cured hams from rafters as they were sold years ago. Although the store is not an old country store it blends new ways with old ways that are authentic. Nothing contrived here.


OLD KITCHEN STOVE HAS A NEW USE -- DISPLAY OF JAMS AND HONEY -- PLUS

Its decor is eclectic with assorted shelving, an old large white enamel stove for displays, chicken wire, live baby chicks in the spring, and much in the, "can't find any other place," category.

THE OLD AND THE NEW... SEED DISPLAYS

An old green display case filled with very old store tins sits next to a newer seed rack -- combines the new way with the old way of selling seeds.

OLD STORE SEED TINS STILL IN USE

These tins are filled by Montgomery's with the same types of seeds each season. In today's world new seeds arrive in large heavy paper bags. From these bags of loose seeds they fill the tins. They measure out portions to their buying customers.

MORE OLD SEED TINS SITTING ON THE OLD DISPLAY FIXTURE

A close up of some of the old labels still on the tins. I did an internet search of the Puritan Brand seeds which were on several of the old labels and came up blank. Perhaps it was one of those small seed companies that are lost to the past.

AN OLD COUNTRY FOLKWAY -- MEN GATHERING TO SHARE THE COMMUNITY NEWS.

Gathered around a large black stove were men who all knew each other. The day I was there taking the photos for these posts, I found these men in good spirits. It seemed the topic of discussion was the local election and they were convincing me to vote for Jerry Combs for Madison County Sheriff. Two of the men above were his campaign managers.


HUNGRY?

Bennie Gay, part of the men that gather at Montgomery's, is just finishing up frying bologna and eggs for the hungry men. It's that kind of place where one can feel at home.

OLD ROCKING CHAIRS PROVIDED

By blending new folkways with old folkways, the store provides a welcome mat of warmth to its customers. Just like the old country stores used to do.