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Friday, October 29, 2010

APPALACHIAN ADVERTISING BARN

KINGSTON ADVERTISING BARN - SIDE 1
Going... going ...  almost gone. That is the condition of a barn in the rural  Kingston community of  Madison County, Kentucky. With this decline one realizes the loss of a historic vernacular advertising barn.


Most folks are familiar with the Chew Mail Pouch Tobacco ads that are painted on barns, mostly found across the eastern part of the country. However, old barn ads cover a wide spectrum of products. In the case of the Kingston barn (above photo) we see an ad for Standard Motor Oil. 


Barn advertising was very popular during the period of 1900 to 1940. Companies paid barn painters to adorn ads on barns while the barn owners were paid a small stipend each  year. The advertising company was responsible to keep the ad freshly painted.  


KINSTONG ADVERTISING BARN - SIDE 2
This particular barn in Kingston has two sides painted. Each side has presentation to the flow of traffic in a particular direction. In the photo above one can see that the second painted side has most of its paint worn off and only the word GAS can be made out. 


It is difficult to date when this ad was painted on the Kingston barn. One local I talked with said he could remember the ad being on the barn since he was a boy about 45 years ago. Of course he also mentioned that it could have been there longer than 45 years. 


Today such painted barns can be considered historic landmarks. Some have been federally listed as National Historic Landmarks. Many are in decline or have been demolished. Efforts to save these artful treasures could bring community pride to rural areas. 


SOURCES:


Advertising Barns by William Simmonds


Rock City Barns by David Jenkins


Mail Pouch  Tobacco Barns,  Wikipedia

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

HUGE KENTUCKY KETTLE GOURD

HARD SHELL KETTLE GOURD



When my daughter was visiting this summer she got carried away at a festival that we attended. She spied this huge kettle gourd and just had to have it. The gourd's non-existent waist measured approximately five feet around! When it came time to leave (on the plane) she realized that it was so large that she would have to have a monstrous size box to ship it home. 


Well, it was left with me to figure it all out. Of course, I still have it. It's growing on me every day that I look at it. I think it has a nice home here. Probably, my daughter has forgotten all about it. Maybe she'll remember it on her next trip to Kentucky and we both can figure out how to ship it.


 Let me see.... I think I should give it a name ... Anu the Celtic goddess of fertility sounds pretty good. Really -- she does look rather pregnant. She really shouldn't be travelling right now. 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

COUNTRY STOOL REVEALS ITS LEGS

STOOL WORK SITE
The above photo might look a bit chaotic. It is because I am undressing a stool from a couple layers of upholstery  -- the upholstery dates from when these materials were added. A secret  was revealed when I found the third and last underlying layer.

I was at my favorite second hand shop cruising the aisles when I spotted this foot stool with an upholstered top. The upholstering was newish and rather awkwardly tacked to the top of the footstool. -- ugly, I thought. 

But wait, those legs! I picked up the stool and turned it over to get a look at the legs. The legs were cherry,  simply cut into a curve similar to forms of the late Empire/early Victorian country style. Could it be, I thought, that this actually is a country stool perhaps  150 years old?. I looked at the price -- $5.00! I always seem to find bargains when I really concentrate -- by looking through their age disguises. Here, in this piece, were legs that told me what it really was or so I thought. For $5.00 it would be worth taking home and undressing it to see if my hunch was correct.


SLINGING THE SECOND LAYER OFF 
The top layer of the stool was a blue check material (see top photo),  perhaps from the last few decades. It was aluminium stapled and brass tacked onto the stool. The second layer was a brown and beige diamond print that I estimate to be from the 1920s era. And the last layer was what you see in the photo above -- an old, early black velvet with needlework applied to the top. This handwork was very similar to that done by women in the mid to late 1800s. This was the secret of the stool. I never expected to find the original upholstered top!

MID to LATE-1800S SAW MARKS AND NEW REPAIR TO LEG
As I had determined that this was of country origin, I figured that the style along with the handwork put the age of the stool somewhere in the 1870s range. Underneath the stool's top were  old circular saw marks that were known to be used during the time-frame. A very new repair had been made to one of the legs apparently to stabilize it. The third velvet layer or last layer was affixed with handmade nails.

.Now one might say what do you want with a stool that has an old worn cover. Well, if one looks at an old piece long enough stories begin to emerge of how and when it was used. 

My story is that a young wife ordered the stool from a country carpenter while she made the simple velvet needlework top. A gift no doubt -- for her beloved husband. Now this is just a story that danced through my head but stories can be fun. 


STOOL AT CRONE STAGE
Here is the old early stool presented as it originally appeared so long ago. Of, course much worn by use and time. But still beautiful.


WHO WORE OUT A SPOT ON MY VELVET TOP?
And in the photo above is a large wear mark on one side of the stool. The husband undoubtedly used this stool for years because it had sentimental value for him. He was a very organized man as he always used the same side of the stool as the other side was not worn. 

The dainty red flowers , made with tiny crochet stitches, were worn flat. Small pieces of sewn ribbons formed the stems. She worked hard to make this lovely piece for her mother. Did I say mother -- oh, yes, maybe she made it for her mother? Its also a story that would fit the piece -- in fact, hundreds of stories can be called up. That is why I like pieces that are old and worn, it lets my imagination run wild.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

APPLACHIAN CUSHAW -- A TRADITIONAL FOOD AND DECORATION

CUSHAWS WITH A  HALLOWEEN PUMPKIN 
Call it a Tennessee Sweet Potato Squash, Cushaw Green Striped pumpkin, or Green Striped Cushaw, they are all the same squash from the Curcurbitaceae family  that have deep roots going all the way back to 7000 to 3000 B.C. They are believed to have originated in Central America and then eventually made their way north to the U. S. by mid-nineteenth century. 


Today they can be found, usually, at local stores or farmers markets in Appalachia. Commercial farms that distribute to chains generally do not grow them so forget trying to find them at a chain grocery store. They are a large and handsome squash that gives them another role besides being used for baking and cooking. Their other role is as sidekicks for the great orange pumpkins -- both used in decorating for harvest and Halloween scenes in yards and on porches in Kentucky.

They are heirlooms of the plant world and grow better in the south than the north. They are huge, 10 to 20 pounds or more, prolific and hardy -- withstanding onslaughts from the vine borer. They can be treated as a summer squash when they are young or a winter squash when they mature in the fall.


In the Appalachian area, Cushaw pie is  traditional with many families as its taste is similar to pumpkin pie.  A Virginia blogger, scrambled hen fruit, has a great food post that featured Cushaw pie along with its recipe on the following post -- http://scrambledhenfruit.blogspot.com/search/label/pie


The seeds for Cushaw's can be found online with seed companies that carry heirloom seeds like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. 

Perhaps for those living in the northern climates it might be fun  growing some of these squash to put a dash of of southern taste in your food preparations or to give your orange pumpkins some team mates for Halloween.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

GAIA CRONE WHO LIVES ON BEAR MOUNTAIN

MY BEAR MOUNTAIN LIMESTONE MARKER 
I have run with the deer
and sat with the spider web.
I have fashioned the wild flowers
into wreaths for my crown.
I have lifted my arms as wings,
flying up to the moon.
I have cried with the Phoebe
into a river of sadness.
I have led the blind 
into parts unknown.
I have smelled the fresh
on ancient pure wildness.
I have shouted with joy at the beauty of Gaia.
I am filled with gladness of being the
 unbelieveable crone that I am.

~~ barbara

Sunday, October 17, 2010

THE GREAT AMERICAN TREASURE HUNT -- THE GARAGE SALE

LOVELY WOMAN ON RIGHT, A NATIVE OF FRANCE,
WAS CONDUCTING THE YARD SALE
Yesterday was a glorious fall day and I had a few errands to run. As I traveled around I noticed many yard sale signs of all sizes beckoning buyers. On my way home I passed a sign that said YARD SALE -- CHEAP.. Cheap made me stop. Not that I am cheap but I only had $8.00 in my money pouch and usually one needs cash at a yard sale. Maybe, I thought, I could find a little treasure.

Yard sales go by several common names; tag sales, rummage sales attic sales, moving sales, garage sales, and others.. It appears to be a regional tradition as to what they are called. In central Kentucky I have noticed the name yard sale is popular. So when I use the term yard sale, I am talking about any of the common names for a yard sale. Overall, one can say that yard sales are a national tradition. 

Usually yard sales have signs posted near the place of the sale. I am not a yard saler ( new verb in our language) per se, but once in a while I will stop if the sale looks interesting  -- or its a nice day and and I have $8.00 in my pouch.

Across the country, yard sales perhaps reach the billion dollar mark each year in sales according to one source. They are a form of retailing that is decentralized, run by private individuals not companies. They are informal and social -- one can pick up the item, note any flaws if any, and talk to the owner about the item. Also, the items are fairly priced and  -- just maybe you will find a treasure.  
OLD FRENCH LACE CURTAIN PANEL WITH YARD SALE CANDLESTICK

As I approached the YARD SALE-CHEAP place, a friendly couple greeted me as I strolled toward the front yard where all the sale items were located. I could tell that much of what had been for sale for gone. I know that there are folks that get there first thing and buy all the good stuff. Yet, I felt it was my lucky day and began my search for a treasure. 


I asked the woman of the couple a question about some bottles that I thought were nice -- and I noticed her accent. She told me she was from Paris, France originally. We chatted a bit and then I went back to get the bottles -- but then noticed other items of interest. Not only was everything cheap it was first quality. 

I picked up some lace curtains -- two panels -- that were quite lovely. She told me that she had gotten them from her aunt's French summer cottage. 


Hmmm  -- I knew right where I could use these fine pieces.

SMALL SOAPSTONE CARVED ELEPHANT BOX  AND CANDLESTICK

Then I looked in the free box and found a nice brass candlestick that had lots of character marks. Wellll -- this can have a place at my home.

I do like little boxes. Sitting on one of the tables was a soapstone hinged box with an elephant carved into the lid. I like to use interesting boxes to wrap small presents in or use them for some of my small mundane things around the house -- like paper clips or stamps etc.  Somehow opening an unusual box for some paper clips and other mundanes appeals to me. 

Sooo -- I now have more items added to my purchases


OLD FOUR-PART MUFFIN TIN AND ENGLISH BON BON CONTAINER

Now I spotted two tin items. One, another small box emptied of its English bon- bons it once contained. It had a lovely impressionistic lithograph printed on its lid. The other tin was an old muffin baking tin -- I do appreciate old household items. 

The tins joined my growing stack of things to purchase. 
OLD BLUE MEDICINAL BOTTLES




So now back to the bottles I had first noticed when I arrived. Yep, Genuine Phillips Milk of Magnesia bottles, small enough to sit on my window sash -- filtering the sun's rays through their dark blue.


Stacked them with my pile.
OLD VASELINE EMBOSSED BOTTLE
Found another old bottle. This one an old embossed Vaseline (short and stout) bottle. I added this to the mound. 


Actually, going to yard sales or having a yard sale is a gender issue. I am a feminist so don't get me wrong. But traditionally, woman have been in charge of all things household. And, sorting out what to sell is usually household items -- so the task of a yard sale falls to the female of the house. Same goes for buying -- women historically are the household consumers. Not that men aren't involved -- they are -- but just in smaller numbers.  


GRANDMOTHERS PLATES FROM FRANCE
Oh such beautiful dinner plates but only two of them. No matter to me as I mix and match all my dinnerware. I don't have any that I bought new. There are stories to share about all the dinnerware I use. My most precious stories are about some soup bowls that used to belong to my youngest son who has since passed. 

The French lady told me that the above two plates were her grandmothers in France. I told her I like to eat from old plates and her face lit up and she said, "it's like having your grandmother there to share your meal!" I agreed. 
SHEFFIELD ENGLAND SILVER-PLATE SPOONS


The idea of yard sales began around the 1950s when the U.S. started their trek toward a consumeristic society. It was a grass roots movement. It provided an outlet for individually owned goods. By the 1970s it had reached its peak and has pretty much maintained that peak until the present day. 


The last items I would buy were some small serving spoons or perhaps they were some hearty sized soup spoons. They are heavy silver-plate and quite old. I know I will use them for soup. 


Final total of goods -- $6.20!


But aside from money, I like used items because they have been touched and cared for by folks. I know that they are not living things but the spirit in which they existed perhaps infuses a certain light into their present day reality. They are my treasures for now. 
















Thursday, October 14, 2010

OLD SCHOOL -- SMALL TOWN -- COMMUNITY MEMORIES -- RESTORE


FRONT VIEW OF PAINT LICK SCHOOL

FRONT INTERIOR ENTRANCE
WORK SITE

Paint Lick was considered a modern school in 1912 when the original four rooms were built to accommodate grades k-12 in the small town of Paint Lick, Kentucky. Constructed of brick in the latest two story school style it soon became too small, so over the years a few additions were added -- like the gym that was built in two sections. It served the community well over those years – until 1994. 

The high school grades part were moved to the nearby town of Lancaster in 1964. Then a beautiful school was built at the edge of town for the lower grades. The old school that sat in town joined the ranks of many of the old schools across the nation that were closed in the last several decades. 

As they closed,  these lovely old neighborhood schools became deteriorated  eyesores. For others, good fortune rained down on them as they were resurrected into living apartments, office structures, community centers and even turned into private schools. Towns found that restored schools with such uses contributed to the local economies.

LEFT OVERS FROM THE PAST IN OLD ALCOVE
GHOSTLY SCHEDULE OF THE PAST

ORIGINAL WOOD STAIRCASE
1912

In Paint Lick the old school was sold to a private individual and became sort of a flea market for about 12 years. Then a man stepped forward about four years ago -- to buy the school with a vision for studio apartments. He had previous experience in resurrecting a small office building to its former glory in the town of Berea, Kentucky. Jay, not his real name, has fire in his heart for old buildings and feels that we need them to know our roots. He follows all the National Register guidelines in rehabilitating buildings.
SHADOW WEAR MARKS FROM FORMER STUDENTS
ON OLD WOOD STAIRCASE
CLASSROOM  VIEW

I stepped into the old school last Saturday. The interior was in the throes of restoration. It’s a large building that requires slow deliberate work, much of what one cannot see like asbestos abatement.  Many of the old school interior elements were still hanging on. There were school secrets around every corner. Vintage school colors were still apparent on many surfaces. Wood floors, some refinished were eye popping in the multi -windowed classrooms. Histories of footsteps were pronounced on the old wood stair treads. Even one small blackboard still had class notes from long ago.
VINTAGE BLUE COLOR ON DOOR WITH
OLD AND NEW LOCKS
WORK IN PROGRESS

This school wraps up a man’s vision, student memories, town history and possibly in the future a new beginning for the Paint Lick school. 

Friday, October 8, 2010

AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE AND EUROPEAN WHITE GRAVEYARD

AFRICAN AMERICAN SLAVE GRAVE SECTION
My son and I made a visit this summer to find a slave graveyard that was reported to be located on a recently developed Civil War Battlefield Park which involves several sites in Madison County, KentuckyThe site we were headed for was a homestead called the Pleasant View House and Farm. Nothing in its published flyer indicated that there was a slave graveyard on site.


What the flyer did say was that Joseph Barnett built the present house on the property in 1825 and at that time he owed 20 slaves. And, he also owned 578 acres. This information was a good base to help us understand the spatial pattern of the graveyard. So off we went toward a rise on the land, a distance back of the old house, to find the slave graveyard.

The first thing we noticed when we spotted the graveyard was that it was divided into two sections – African American slave on one side and European white pioneer family on the other. 

EUROPEAN WHITE GRAVE SECTION
 It was a small graveyard and according to a sign posted by it, it had been in a deteriorated state for a long time previous to a recent restoration. There were approximately fourteen or so grave-markers on the white side and about six or so on the slave side.


The white side consisted of two types of grave-markers; the ledger type and the head and foot marker type. The African American slave side of the graveyard had two types of grave markers. One being head stone and foot stone type made by a stone cutter and the second type -- some head stones and foot stones --  being simply a field stone to mark the head and one also to mark the foot.

MY SON MAKING RUBBINGS OF THE LEDGER INSCRIPTIONS
The ledger types were large flat one-piece stones covering the grave, similar to the cover of a tablet, and placed on a raised limestone foundation. The inscription was on the ledger’s topside. Most of the ledger grave-markers were difficult to read – exposure to weather and the type of local stone used had blurred or erased much of the writing. 


My son came up with the idea of doing rubbings to determine what information we could obtain about the deceased. This method did help some in deciphering some of the names and dates. 


The ledger style was expensive in its time and is believed to have been used by the wealthy.  Historically, they are believed to be a British tradition.  

HEAD STONE IN SLAVE SECTION
The head stones in both the slave and white sections of the plot, if made by a stone cutter, carried the name and date of the deceased. The foot stone simply had the initial of the deceased.


Southern folk grave-markers are simple and unadorned. None of the grave –markers had adornment such as flowers, birds etc. The graveyard was on a rise, which is a southern thing -- this tradition is older than  Christianity. The front side of the head stone is smooth while the sides and back have chisel marks – a sign of back country grave stone-cutters

FOOT STONE OF EMILY'S HEADSTONE -- PHOTO ABOVE
The earliest deceased date that we found was 1806 and the latest was  1851 -- pre-Civil War times. These dates definitely indicate back country living for this region of Kentucky. Also, I would consider this graveyard a folk one due to its dates, arrangement and back country location.

SLAVE HEAD STONE WITH FOOT STONE
Grave stone-cutters in the backcountry during the above dates were involved in other artisan trades along with stone cutting. Many grave stone-cutters were itinerate and travelled over large regions.

SLAVE HEAD STONE INSCRIPTION
In Memory
Joshua  Servant of
Jos Barnett Jr born
1798 & died by a
stroke of Lightning
July 1827
In the early 1800s, markers were not always placed on the grave site at the time of death. This was due to time spent sending away for a grave-marker and then having it delivered by wagon. This could take up to a year or so.
The spatial arrangement of the plot is similar to early Scots-Irish traditions – linear rows. The slave side was also dictated by this pattern.
CLOSE-UP OF JOSHUA HEAD STONE (PHOTO ABOVE)
This graveyard in all probability has many more secrets to unveil through its material culture.  My son and I made two trips to the plot and feel we still missed some of the clues to its history.

CHISEL MARKS ON BACK SIDE OF HEAD STONE
For sources to check out about folk graveyards – see below. I never thought that graveyards could be so culturally fascinating but now I know I will be on the lookout for more of the same.




SOURCES:

Books

Texas Graveyards: A Cultural Legacy by Terry G. Jordan

Sticks and Stones: Three Centuries of North Carolina Gravemarkers by M. Ruth Little

Ghosts along the Cumberland by William Lynwood Montell

Historic Property

Civil War Battlefield Park 
Richmond, Kentucky

Monday, October 4, 2010

A COUNTRY HOUSE WITH A COUNTRY PORCH GARDEN

COUNTRY HOUSE NESTLED IN THE TREES


I thought you'd enjoy one more garden before the cold temperatures of fall and winter creeps into our world.


Porch gardens are exactly as the words suggest -- plants grown on a porch. Any type of real plants can be part of one. They are usually found on covered open porches either to the front, side or back of the house. Any size will do. Many times furnishings are included such as tables, chairs or porch swings. Other types of paraphernalia are also appropriate. Usually they are densely packed with both the plants and furnishings. 


Creators of such gardens usually give their own artistic bend to the overall look. Informality reins. 

LEFT HAND SIDE OF THE PORCH GARDEN


I found this great porch garden, a few days ago, on highway 52 in Garrard County, Kentucky on a beautiful fall day.


I had driven by it several times admiring the folk artistry surrounding the owner's charming home that nestled under a canopy of mature trees. 


RIGHT HAND SIDE OF THE PORCH GARDEN


The day I stopped to take photos the gardener/owner was not home, only the adult son. He gave me permission to take my photos. 


SITTIN'  SPOT


I thought her blending of  plants with some small chairs, a small table with birdhouses along with the birdhouse porch swing fit the theme. Her theme appeared to be birdhouses, daisies, and frogs. The porch was full of visual treats. The plants were healthy as they waved in the breeze.

SWINGING SPOT

It was evident that the gardener was a good steward of her porch garden.


FROGS HAVING A ROLLICKING GOOD LAUGH


Oh, one more thing, I felt the owner had a good sense of humor. Why? Becuse she had a bunch of frogs near her front porch steps that were looking at me with a smile when I left -- one was even falling over with laughter.