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Monday, January 27, 2014

OLD VERNACULAR CORN CRIB IN THE COUNTRY





Sitting alone and unused in the hill country of Estill County, Kentucky is this vernacular hand-crafted old corn crib built probably during the early to middle part of the 1900s. Vernacular in the sense that the structure is concerned with domestic and functional use rather than fashionable. 

On the bottom of the crib runs a metal strip acting possibly as a barrier to keep varmints from entering. A small unused gate leans against its front corner. Once used as a structure to store corn cobs as feed for the farmer's domesticated animals -- it now stands as a fragment of our past. 

Its weathered silvered wood displays a contrast against the fields and woods behind it. Driving by the crib, folks can glimpse at this symbolic structure that represents what once was. Its condition has been kept in fine repair. I wonder what its future holds?


A vintage style board and batten door with old heavy hinges is the only access to the corn crib that I noticed from the road.



Saturday, January 25, 2014

VINTAGE LIBERTY THEATER





"LET'S ALL GO TO THE MOVIES"




 VERNACULAR DESIGN BASED 
ON THE SPANISH ALHAMBRA STYLE
probably built during the early 1900s


This old beautiful Liberty theater is still going strong in the small town of Camas, Washington. For a vintage night out look for an old theater near where you live, buy your ticket at the front ticket booth, bring your own freshly popped popcorn or visit the snack counter then sit back and watch the big screen. An enjoyable treat. 





Monday, January 20, 2014

SUNNY SMALL TOWN





Camas, Washington --  Downtown
 

After days and days of gray skies the sun made its long awaited appearance last Saturday. Of course, I grabbed my camera and headed for a nearby small town to discover what it was all about. I had not been to Camas before (population 19,000 plus) and immediately liked its small town environment upon arriving. 

People were out roaming the stores, teen boys were riding their skateboards down the middle of the street, folks were strolling the sidewalks slowly with their dogs and there were signs (smiles) that all were enjoying the sunny day.






Above two men bask in the warm sun on an otherwise cool day





Sarah at the coffee shop


I stopped for a cup of java in a small coffee shop in downtown Camas. Above is Sarah, who was the very congenial cashier that told me that she worked very part time at the store as she has six kids -- the oldest being eight! She was lovely and I thought the photo above with the sunlight shining through the front window illuminated her soft demeanor. 






Dog Kisses


I noticed this man talking to his dog after returning from buying a cup of coffee. The dog was excited to see him even though it was just minutes that he waited. The man told me he found his dog at a shelter and now he has the best home ever. I believe it from the emotions expressed by his dog -- don't you?

Support small towns -- take a day trip and discover the uniqueness of their architecture and art, local people, and conversations. Or just visit one and sit on a bench in the sun and observe.



Sunday, January 19, 2014

SO WHAT'S UP WITH OLD BUILDING TILES





Alleyway.  Camas, Washington --  two-story exterior tile wall 

Hollow building tiles were used in this country from the late 1800s on through the early 1950s. What few tile structures we see today are left from that time period. As a result we are seeing less and less of them as our built environment undergoes scraping of old buildings for other uses such as strip malls and housing subdivisions.

In the photo above is a shot of a building exterior using hollow brick tiles. The wall is in excellent shape even though it is anywhere from sixty to a hundred years old.

The tiles were durable and displayed a fine earthy patina. Several U.S. companies manufactured them -- see below ad for NATCO HOLLOW TILE.



Source: Wikipedia

The tiles were popular building materials in both housing and commercial structures during the early twentieth century or late nineteenth century. Perhaps you might even live in one today or know of a building in your town that is built with them. 

If you have some interest in this early trade check out this book online from the JSTOR archives. Fun to page through their entire book here titled History of Structural Hollow Clay Tile in the United States. 



Tuesday, January 14, 2014

WINTER AFTERNOON -- PACIFIC NORTHWEST





Standing in a local park this afternoon I noticed a large ball of sun trying to break through the dark layers of sky. It was as if the sun was pushing against the darkness saying "it's my turn in the sky now." However she did not win the battle and her light was soon extinguished by the clouds.

I am not really fond of the constant day after day overcast that we have experienced lately here in the Pacific Northwest. But when I see how the rest of the country has been faring I know to keep my mouth shut.

But really -- I do agree with the sun -- it's her turn to shine.



Saturday, January 11, 2014

LIVING BRUSH FENCE AND COMMUNICATING


Living Brush Fence

(OK, I know what you are saying -- what the heck is this above photo all about? Hint -- this is a brush fence -- to get some perspective look for the black roof line above the fence.) 

When I recently moved to Vancouver, Washington I decided to take a short ride around my new neighborhood to get a feel for the area. I found the housing stock attractive in a sixties kind of way and very much into front yard lawnscaping.  There was a wide array from topiary to the wild natural look. 

While driving, a front yard fence caught my eye. It ran parallel to the front of its home. It acted as a privacy fence for the front facade of the house as it was about six feet high and ran the width of the property. The fence had a type of ivy growing all over it and appeared to be constructed with natural brush sticks. 

Then I saw a man on his knees working by the fence. I wanted to know about the fence so I stopped my car, approached him slowly, while smiling, and introduced myself.  


Looking closely at the configuration of brush fence

As I approached the kneeling man I noticed that the fence's brush sticks were woven in a weave like the warp and weft of an old coverlet. The green ivy leaves faced the street. Frankly I thought it quite beautiful. Definitely falling into the realm of some folk tradition. But what folk tradition?



Man I used sign language with  about the fence

The kneeling man rose to greet me. I could see he was cutting out some unwanted roots near a tree, I said, "could you tell me something about this wonderful fence?" He flashed his hands around until I got the idea -- he didn't speak English. At that point we started talking in a rather primitive sign language. I did ask him (with my hands) if he designed the brush fence -- and with that he went and stood in front of it. I motioned at him with my camera (usually have one handy) and he apparently understood  as he stood in his position until I got off five shots of him. Then I pointed to the fence and he nodded -- so I got off a few more shots of the fence. 

So then I departed with a nod and said thank you. Then he said these words to me, "thank you."  Spoken in clear English. I then thanked him again wondering if he really understood what just happened. Was the thank you  a result of me taking his picture? Or did he understand me but couldn't express himself in English but for these few words? I'll never know.  But in his way he was very hospitable. I want to believe that he constructed the fence but I'll never be able to say positively that he did. 

Communication can be difficult but maybe it all works out with a smile. But I am still scratching my head as to the traditional origins of this unusual fence. 

ADDENDUM:  Fortunately my mind clicked several months after I wrote this post and realized the fence in this piece is what is called a wattle fence. An old technique seldom found in the U.S. but popular in England. Here is a 2007 Washington Post article about wattle fencing.