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Sunday, July 1, 2012

ALBERTA'S (NOT SUSIE'S) APPALACHIAN CHAIR


Recently I was riding down my road observing the natural beauty of the ride when I passed by a home that had been boarded up for about six months. There standing by the side of the road was a lone old country chair. Placing things out by the side of the road signals to folks that the article is a give-away -- take it if you want it. I swung around and went back for it. I suspect that only someone like me would take such a chair -- it was rather crude for most folk's taste. 


I knew a little history of the boarded up primitive house --  the former resident had been born in the house -- she was about 70 when she up and left this home to move into an apartment. She never waved at anyone nor even looked in their direction. This is about all I knew about this unusual woman.

I do know her name though, it was Alberta (not Susie). 

Just think of the character Boo Radley in the movie, To Kill A Mockingbird, and you will instantly know her reclusive personality.  Cats, dogs, and chickens were her friends -- she did not talk with anyone that lived along the road. She lived a lifestyle reflective of early  Appalachian culture -- individualistic and sustainable.  She intrigued me.

So I grabbed the chair from the side of the road and brought it home to be placed in my yard until I could decide what to do with it. Here was a chair that had accumulated years of wear at Alberta's home. It was, a testament to a former culture, homemade and worn. Somewhere within the chair is a story, maybe I can retrieve it over time?

ADDENDUM -- Talked with a local man that knew the family that owned the above chair. The woman's name was Alberta not Susie. Alberta was born in the house referred to in this post. 

Alberta's mother lived there too -- her name was Omi Pigg. The local man used to sell eggs to Omi Pigg about thirty years ago. Omi was very friendly according to the local man and would always sit outside in the handmade chair. He said at one time it had a matching ottoman. 

The house never had running water and was brought in by bottles. There was a crude septic that was illegal. He figured that the house was at least sixty years old or more.


26 comments:

  1. Love that chair and your photo with the cone flower (?) is wonderful, the light just right. What a find!

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    1. Teresa -- I feel it was a find. Love the diversity of individuals in our world. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  2. A beautiful blog, Barbara. Like you, I would have turned back to take the chair home with me. Maybe Susie was of a reclusive nature, but deep down she would appreciate the respect you show her. This isn't just a chair. It is the silent story of a human soul.

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    1. Nature Weaver -- I write this comment as a thunder storm moves in -- hallelujah -- we need rain. Susie's chair will get a good bath as it sits out in my yard. You put such beautiful words in your comment -- the chair -- "is the silent story of a human soul." Very introspective of Susie's nature. Appreciate your comment -- barbara

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  3. Oooo, I can't wait to hear more about Susie, the chair is full of character :)

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    1. Jayne -- My nearest neighbors do not know much about Susie. Perhaps the chair will eventually tell the story itself. thanks -- barbara

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  4. What an amazing find! Love the picture with the cone flower... The light and shadows played with it. I think you and "Susie" will become fast friends. Great pictures and story..thanks for sharing this.

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    1. turquoisemoon -- Thanks for the nice comment -- I think I will always think of Boo Radley when I think of her --- barbara

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  5. Your lovely pictures suggest a short story: Barbara sits in the capacious old chair when it has been once again been washed clean by a thunderstorm then dried by the sun when the clouds move on. She closes her eyes and finds Susie has replaced her in the chair, sitting back, speaking in her nasal voice, dropping the "g"s, pronouncing many "i"s like "a"s. Susie remembers being a child playing around the house but mostly helping Maw and Paw as they worked hard during the war years, going to school for a while but always with chores and then ...? Did she have a boy friend? Did she stay home helping with younger children, maybe caring for her parents when they were ill? Always there was the garden, the animals, the clothes and house to keep clean, the meals to cook. Habit, repetition, time passing, people passing away and Susie with the occasional hour to sit in the chair and just rest, or maybe read her Bible. Maybe her memory slowly began to shred until a niece or nephew (or a child of her own who had moved away) visited and insisted it was time to leave the Home Place...

    This is what your information and photo says to me--only one of countless possible tales Susie and her chair could tell

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    1. June -- you are definitely an imaginative writer. For you to come up with a story-line that could be so compelling when fleshed out is amazing. No wonder you teach writing classes. I do believe much of her life could have been experienced as you describe but who knows? However, I do know of two strange events that happened in her family that would add some strangeness to the story -- events that would qualify for the old movie, "In the Heat Of The Night." I am trying to decide how to use it -- if at all. Appreciate the nice comment -- barbara

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  6. I would have stopped too, in a heartbeat.

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    1. Birdman -- Good to know that there are others that appreciate homemade and worn things -- thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  7. May I add a "wow" to June Calendar's suggestion/comment.

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    1. nature Weaver -- June is a talented writer fro sure. Have a great 4th -- barbara

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  8. Good for you! I'm glad the sturdy old chair will continue to give joy.

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    1. NCnountainwoman -- I will keep the chair for awhile and then I plan to give it to a local Kentuckian that appreciates Appalachian culture -- but for now I am enjoying it. Have a good 4th -- barbara

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  9. Question for you, Barbara......in one of your blogs you shared how you have to be careful where you step because of the copperheads. Does your area have quite a few snakes? I have a fear of them, poisonous or non-poisonous. I'm wondering if they ever crawl inside buildings and houses. Thank you.

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    1. Nature Weaver -- Since I moved here five years ago I have only seen one copperhead, who was no bother, and several different kind of non-poisonous snakes. Also Black Widows are common if you are wondering about other poisonous critters to be aware of in Central Kentucky. But really, I believe the rattler is the only one that would strike out -- the Black Widows and Cooperheads are not interested in us humans if you leave them alone. I do know of a couple cases where snakes crawled in homes but the owners of the homes had not taken care to seal their homes adequately. Watching where I step has become second nature to me as I live in a rather wild environment. My motto is to respect the critters and give them a wide berth.

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    2. Thank you, Barbara. We have our share of non-poisonous wigglers where I live, and that makes it hard for someone who fears them. Kentucky appears to be rich in raw nature, and the pictures you share are ever so enjoyable. They allow the rest of us to mind-travel as we read your blogs.

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    3. Thanks Nature Weaver -- have a cool 4th -- barbara

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  10. I would have grabbed it too! Love knowing its story -- and the pic with the coneflower is perfect.

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    1. vicki -- I love knowing the stories attached to material items such as chairs, dishes, quilts etc plus the stories surrounding architectural places. thanks so much for the comment on the chair and photo -- barbara

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  11. That chair has "chairacter!" :-) Definitely full of stories to tell. And Susie sounds like someone not afraid to surrender to introversion. I wouldn't be able to ignore people like that, but I can related to just wanting to hang out with the cats, dogs and chickens ~ at least some (maybe a lot) of the time. I can't imagine how someone like Susie could have ever adapted to apartment life! That had to be wrenching.

    I love that you know as much as you do know about the chair, and that it's in your appreciative hands now! It'll be fun to see what, if anything, you end up doing with it beyond rescuing it and putting it in your yard.

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  12. Laloofah -- Many folks are out there that live an extremely quiet existence. It suits them and that is all fine with me as I hear it is with you. I feel that is what makes people so fascinating is their lifestyles. We'd be a rather boring group if we were all alike. thanks for the comment -- barbara

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  13. I've just discovered your blog and have enjoyed traveling about with you and your canmera. I do the same in the Pacific Northwest - we've lived in WA for 12 years now and it is sad that the old things here are not revered - it is "tear it down and build it new and huge" most places, so I do have to hunt for the wonderful old barns and houses.

    I love your chair and the stories behind it - what a lovely find.

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    1. JoAnn -- Love the Pacific Northwest! Lived in Oregon for several years and still miss it. When I lived in Oregon there were still some great old architectural country and town structures. I imagine that this has changed some. I've been in KY about six years and have seen fantastic vernacular structures wiped off the face of the earth in my area. The best we can do to preserve them sometimes is to use our camera. Hope you make a good recovery. Enjoyed your blog wildlife shots. Thanks for the comment -- barbara

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