From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

White Christmas

Snowy Christmases, past and present



We had a white Christmas in Christian County this year. The snow started about 6:00 pm on Christmas Eve and continued intermittently throughout Christmas Day. This photo was taken in late afternoon on the day after Christmas.

Keely, Taurus, and their friend Adam spent Christmas Day with us. After they left that evening, I swept several inches of snow off my car so it would be ready to drive in the morning. A couple more inches of snow fell during the night, and when I went out to start my car the next morning, I had to sweep it off again.


My kids have a favorite family story about one of the few Christmas snows in their childhood. We went to church on Christmas morning that year. By the time church was over, several inches of snow covered the ground. We were surprised! We didn't know that snow was in the forecast!

I was driving, and I had no problems until I turned off the highway to the little gravel lane that leads uphill to our house.  I made it about halfway up the long,  hill before the car started to slide. When I let up on the gas, I lost momentum and came to a stop.

Dennis got out and pushed the car. That wasn't successful, so he decided to drive while I pushed. I got behind the car and gave it all my muscle while Dennis stepped on the gas aggressively. When he got the car moving, he roared up the hill, leaving me to walk home. The kids didn't know whether to laugh or cry about leaving Mom behind, but I understood. If he had stopped, we'd have gained nothing.


Several days before Christmas in 2004, we had the closest thing to a blizzard that I've seen in Kentucky --  seven or eight inches of snow with strong wind and very cold temperatures. Dennis was in Kuwait that Christmas with AAFES (the PX system, from which he has now retired), so he missed out on that storm.

We always heat with wood, but normally, we have a thermostat-controlled propane heater that turns on when needed. During that storm, we had only wood heat. We had bought a new propane heater a few days earlier. After the installer disconnected the old heater, he realized that he didn't have everything he needed to connect the new heater.

That night, while I was shoving firewood into the stove and listening to the wind howl, I thought about Laura Ingalls Wilder's blizzard story in On the Banks of Plum Creek. Pa and Ma had gone to town, leaving Laura and Mary at home with little Carrie. When the blizzard hit, Laura knew that it was important to have lots of firewood inside. Otherwise, people had to burn their furniture to keep from freezing. With fear-driven energy, Laura and Mary hauled the entire woodpile inside their little cabin, finishing just as their parents arrived home.

Isaac's longtime friend DJ was home from Oregon that Christmas, and he was visiting us on the night of the snowstorm. The next morning, the storm had ended, and it was clear, cold, and still. Isaac and DJ bundled up and went out with the sleds.

I didn't know that they were sledding down the hills on the highway until they got back home! "We'd have heard any cars coming!" they assured me with the wisdom of 15-year-olds. I felt a little better when they told me that there were only two sets of tire tracks on the highway.

A day or two later, the snow was still on the ground and the roads were still bad. Keely got a ride home from Murray on Christmas Eve with her friend Kyla who had a Jeep.  A tall fellow named Taurus crawled out of the Jeep with Keely and spent that Christmas with us. He's been here for every Christmas since then, and in October of 2010, he became our son-in-law.

I hope you've enjoyed your Christmas, white or otherwise. And if it's snowy where you are, stay warm and be careful!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Odds and Ends (2)

More photos from the "To be posted" folder



I can say with certainty that I have not been in Elkton (KY) on a Thursday evening in summer for several years. How can I be so sure? Thursday night is Bike Night in Elkton from May through October. If I had passed through the downtown area of Elkton on Bike Night, I would have noticed the motorcycles.

Elkton's Facebook page reports 265 bikes in town on the evening of July 2, 2010, just two days before I photographed the flag and metal biker art on the corner of the town square. The poster was on display in an Elkton convenience store.

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I saw this business card on the bulletin board at the Pennysaver Market in Fairview (KY). Apparently these guys have a market for the materials they salvage. Large beams, weathered siding, wide-plank flooring, doors, vintage light fixtures, old mantels, etc. from old buildings are sometimes used in new construction to add a rustic look.

I would like to visit a building salvage yard, sometime. On the home-decorating TV shows, the designers visit salvage stores and always find a vintage piece with lots of character. Hailey Salvage & Building Material in Nashville sounds like that sort of salvage store.

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I was really shocked when I drove down Jeff Adams Road (in Christian County, KY) and saw this heap of broken boards instead of the little frame house that it used to be. Bro In Law Barn Salvaging could have recycled some weathered silvery-gray wood siding from it. Instead, the little house is bulldozed and ready to burn.

This little house was built like a barn with the boards running up and down. It always looked to me like there was nothing between the inside and outside except a single layer of board. People who grew up in houses like this one tell stories about waking up on winter mornings with snow on their quilts.

The little house is gone, but the day-lilies that grew around it are still there, I promise. They filled the yard long ago, and they've spilled out into the road ditches where they grow for a hundred yards in both directions.

One summer, I dug up a few day-lilies from the ditch and brought them home. They have multiplied and they would like to expand out of their allotted area here, too, but the lawn mower keeps them corralled.

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As the shortest day of the year approaches, these forsythia buds remind me that the cold, dark days of winter will soon pass. This photo was taken in early March; it's now late December. In less than three months, the forsythia will be ready to bloom again!

Related:
Odds and Ends (1)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Horse and Buggy Accidents

Hazards of horse-drawn vehicles


Last week, I happened to read an article in the Kentucky New Era archives on Google about a horse and buggy accident in the early 1900s. The horse became frightened when it met an automobile on the road.

The story piqued my curiosity about such accidents. Were they frequent, when automobiles began sharing narrow roads with horses? To my surprise, I didn't find any similar stories in the old local newspapers that I searched online -- the Kentucky New Era and the Hopkinsville Kentuckian. (Such accidents surely did happen, but my brief search didn't turn up any more records!)

Runaway Horses


However, accounts of other types of accidents with horse-drawn vehicles were common. Many reports told about frightened horses running away. Often, no cause was cited for the horse's panic. That's not surprising. Just a leaf blowing across the road can be enough of an excuse for a flighty horse!

Often, passengers were injured when the runaway horses tipped over wagons or buggies. The injuries were usually not fatal, and the passengers were usually expected to recover.

Sometimes the passengers jumped from a buggy as the horse ran away with it! They suffered bruises, but survived.

Sudden Breakdowns


Some accidents happened when a piece of the buggy or wagon broke unexpectedly. Then, the startled horse would bolt. If the disabled vehicle stayed  attached to the horse, it would be drug until it overturned. Other accidents happened when a piece of the harness broke, frightening the horse.

Dr. John Clardy (you may remember his name from my recent post about Oakland Manor's history) had an accident of this sort:

Dr. John D. Clardy, while driving one of his most gentle and much used horses at his home near Church Hill last Sunday, came near being the victim of a serious accident. He was in the buggy alone when one of the traces broke. The shafts of the buggy dropped to the ground and the frightened animal bounded off on a mad run for the stable. The Doctor was jerked out of the buggy and says the first thing he knew, he was just standing on his head in the soft ground. His many friends will be glad to know that he was not injured in the least. He says he was not scared a little bit, as he never gets scared at anything.

Source: Hopkinsville Kentuckian, August 20, 1907. This newspaper page contains several more reports of horse-related mishaps, under the heading, "A Chapter of Accidents".

Passing Too Closely


Sometimes, horse-drawn vehicles came too close to each other and an accident happened. It was dangerous when one driver attempted to pass another on a narrow road. In one case that I read, the wheels of two buggies became interlocked, causing both horses to panic and both buggies to overturn. It was best, then as now, to wait for a wide spot before trying to pass.


Stream Crossings


Accidents in streams were often fatal. Many creeks and rivers were crossed at fords, and people sometimes underestimated the depth of the water and the strength of the water's flow, especially at night. If the wagon or buggy overturned, the passengers often drowned. Sometimes, they were caught under their vehicle, but more often, they were carried downstream. In some cases, their bodies were never found.

In one sad incident of this sort, an elderly black preacher, Rev. Peter Bronaugh, drove his buggy down to the edge of Little River on Second Street in Hopkinsville to let his horse drink. His young grandson was in the buggy with him. The river was running deep and fast, due to recent heavy rains.

When the horse had drunk his fill, Rev. Bronaugh attempted to drive the buggy back up the riverbank. It was muddy and the horse could not get a good footing. The buggy slid into the swiftly-flowing water and tipped over. Rev. Bronaugh drowned on the spot, while his grandson was carried downriver by the current. People saw him but could not reach him, and he too drowned. The horse was able to escape from the current at the river bend. (Source: Hopkinsville Kentuckian, May 16, 1899. The article also describes a similar accident that occurred in the same area, 25 years earlier.)

In March of 1910, respected tobacco buyer and Jessup Avenue resident James Gee was drowned when he attempted to ford Little River in his buggy at the "treacherous Second street crossing" in Hopkinsville. Gee drove into high water in darkness (7:30 PM), obviously not realizing the river's flooded condition. He had been out all day buying tobacco, and he was bundled up in a heavy overcoat and a big laprobe. It was believed that these garments impeded his ability to swim. His body was found downstream the next day. His horse also perished.

I read at least a dozen sadly-similar stories of stream-fording accidents in the old Hopkinsville newspapers. These reports are not wasted on me, even though I don't live in horse-and-buggy days. I occasionally come to streams that must be forded as I  explore the rural roads in and around Christian County. I have always been cautious about driving into stream fords, and I intend to be even more cautious in the future!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Justice Center and Jail, Hopkinsville, KY

Law and order on the West Bank


Christian County Justice Center, as seen
from the east bank of Little River


Main entrance, Christian County Justice Center
The Christian County Justice Center sits on the west side of Little River in Hopkinsville (KY). This handsome public building was designed by local architect Keith Sharp and put into service in 2002. It includes 73,000 square feet of space and houses five courts.

In a May 24, 2002, Kentucky New Era article, Sharp commented on the underlying philosophy of the building's design:

We live in a land of freedom and justice. You are entering into a place that should evoke you to think about that. Public buildings have a duty to the community to establish a sense of permanence. That sense of establishment is present in this courthouse...
(Source)

Frankly, the Justice Center has so much gravitas that I feel a little awed every time I drive by it.

The Justice Center is connected by tunnel to the Christian County Jail (located on the opposite side of West 7th Street). The jail was also designed by Keith Sharp, and it was completed in 1994. Like the Justice Center, it has an attractive, dignified facade. The City of Hopkinsville website has a good photo of the jail, contributed by Jim Creighton.

I don't often have a reason to visit the Justice Center. Unless I am called again for jury duty, I probably won't go there again until I need my driver's license renewed. I have never yet been inside the jail.

These two "law and order" buildings, the public library, and the public park along Little River form a civic campus that enhances the west side of downtown Hopkinsville. I wish all the approaches to our historic downtown area were as attractive!

West 7th Street, looking toward
Little River and the historic downtown

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Monday, November 29, 2010

Odds and Ends (1)

Photos from the "To be posted" folder



Keely and I had fun shopping at Burkes Outlet and the Mighty Dollar in Russellville (KY), about a week ago. At Burkes, I successfully resisted buying a chicken. I like chicken knickknacks, but I am determined not to start a collection.

Burkes and the Mighty Dollar are in the same strip mall, next to the Russellville WalMart. They're the sort of stores that have an unpredictable, interesting and inexpensive inventory.

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Our landscape was colored with brown for several months due to the long drought this area suffered last summer. Now, around Christian County, winter wheat is greening many fields. I enjoy seeing the bright new growth!


This photo was taken at the intersection of Pilot Rock Road and Robinson Lane in Christian County, looking southeast toward Fairview.  

We've had a couple of nice rains and in fact, rain is falling at this very moment. It's been quite a wet and windy evening, but it's still 50 degrees. Tomorrow the temperatures will fall, and tomorrow night will be below freezing. Although our weather has been mostly mild so far, we did have some snow on Thanksgiving night.

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Two summers ago, I saw this pretty little clump of flowers in Land Between the Lakes near the Egner Ferry Bridge. It was growing a hundred feet from the lakeshore in a gravel-filled wash. The debris in the background suggests a high-water episode in the past.

You never know where you'll find a flower. If the soil is right for them to flourish, they bloom despite their humble surroundings.

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This photo is a year or two old, too. I came out to the kitchen one summer morning to make coffee, and found this large moth. Dennis had seen him resting on a white towel and put a glass jar over him so I could see him too.  That's a penny beside him. After I took the photo, I slid a piece of paper under him and carried him outside. I never did get to see him open his wings and fly.

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This is one of the interesting homes on South Main Street in Hopkinsville. This style is (I think) Mission Revival -- at least, the roofline and arched windows certainly are. (I'm not sure about the front porch!) Mission Revival was especially popular for the first few decades of the 1900s.

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This is another home on South Main Street in Hopkinsville. The photo is a little out of perspective because I tried to straighten it using a stretch-grid in Paintshop Pro.

After my treatment, the photo looks like it was taken from the air, instead of from the ground. I'm not sure that the chimneys and the front roof peak are that tall in real life, either.

Despite those flaws, if the porch railings were straight, the photo would probably look OK. I couldn't seem to get them in line without grossly stretching something else.

Nonetheless, it's a pretty house. The two-story gingerbread porch and the red front door give it personality. Without them, it would be a big, plain box.

(To be continued another day. More such photos wait.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Old, Empty Tobacco Barns

Common sight in Christian County, KY


Dozens of old tobacco barns like this one can be seen across Christian County, KY. Some stand along roads that are (more or less) traveled. Others can be glimpsed on the back sides of fields and at the edges of woods, where farmers and hunters pass only occasionally.

Some of these aged barns remain in use by tobacco growers, but many of them stand empty year-round. The empty barns illustrate two trends in Christian County agriculture.
  •  In the past, every tobacco barn or two might have represented a small farm and a farm family. Today, we have far fewer small farms. More and more, Christian County's tobacco is raised on larger farms.  
  • Less tobacco is produced now than in the past, and less barn space is needed to cure the crop.

A 2004 USDA report, "Trends in U.S. Tobacco Farming",  says that Kentucky dropped from 136,000 tobacco-growing farms in 1954 to 29,000 such farms in 2002.

The report gives the following overview of changes in U.S. tobacco production:
The number of farms growing tobacco has declined rapidly during the last 50 years. From 1997 to 2002, farm numbers declined by a larger percentage than in any other 5-year period since 1950. Acreage and production both declined due to smaller quotas. The trend toward fewer larger farms will likely continue, but the future rate of change and location of production will depend on several factors: the impact of the tobacco buyout, U.S. and world consumption of tobacco, and alternative crop and off-farm income opportunities for tobacco growers.

Source: "Trends in U.S. Tobacco Farming", published in 2004 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

It Begins

The first signs of Thanksgiving


This is Keely, your on-the-scene reporter, interrupting my mother's regularly scheduled blogging to bring you this update on how early preparations Thanksgiving are coming along here in the Netz Family. As you can see, cooking fans, today was the first big push for the big day, as indicated by the commencement of bread baking.

As you can see, the photograph above is of the bread in its rising state. I decided to get an early start on it this year because for some reason completely unknown to me, I have it in my head that baking bread takes 4 hours. I don't know where I got this from at all. This usually means that I start bread the night before Thanksgiving at about 8 PM, and then realize that I'm missing a key ingredient, generally something that can't be faked from the usual kitchen supplies. Year before last, I went to the grocery store the Wednesday before Thanksgiving not just once, but twice. Not my bright shining moment.

The bread (and bread dough) shown is this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I've made it once before and I really like it, but I will say two things about it. First, when I make it, it takes about 2/3 that much flour, for whatever reason. Second, I, at least, have to make the rolls smaller than I think I should.

Well, I guess I actually have one more thing to say, which is that you should make sure you have powdered milk and potato flakes before you start this. This was something I failed miserably at the first time (please, see above about realizing that I don't have everything after it's too late).

Also, also (I seem to have a lot to say about this recipe for only having two things to say), I don't in fact melt the butter and apply it with a pastry brush. I just use a stick of butter and apply it directly. That's just laziness, though, and not actually something that should make any difference whatsoever.

Anyway (apparently I'm a rambling reporter), Thanksgiving preparations are swimming along fairly well here, but I've left out one of the surest signs that Thanksgiving is on it's way.

This is my Christmas cactus. As you can see, the poor dear thing is clearly confused and every year, it blooms at Thanksgiving, instead of at Christmas. Well, it's about to bloom again, clearly signifying that the season is upon us, and also signifying that my plant, unsurprisingly, doesn't know what day of the year it is.

Well, I guess your reporter is signing off. I hope all of you have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving, and I hope that your preparations are going at least as well as mine. Hopefully, yours are going without the part where you run out of everything, or the part where you set the oven on fire - twice (I'll tell you all about that one another time. That story is also known as "The Reason that Taurus is in Charge of Cooking the Turkey"). Have a blessed holiday, everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shopper Talk

Cooking for Thanksgiving, shopping for Christmas


As I straightened merchandise in the store today, two grandmotherly ladies stood in the aisle chatting. They exclaimed about how surprised and happy they were to see each other. They exchanged news -- the son's new job, the grandkids' sports, the mutual friend who has retired and moved to Florida.

Then one silver-haired lady asked the other, "Are you cooking for Thanksgiving?"

"Why, HELL, yes!" the other lady said. I will never know for sure why she was so emphatic, because I was called away at that very moment. I liked her attitude, though. She sounded like a fearless cook.

The stores have been having great sales, and many of our senior citizens have been shopping for Christmas. They know that this warm weather could change at any time, making it much less pleasant to venture out of the house. They've decided to take the bargains that are being offered now, rather than waiting for better sales later.

As I've rung up my customers' purchases at the cash register, I've learned that some are mailing Christmas packages, and they want to get everything in the box and ready to go. Others will be traveling this week to spend Thanksgiving with their families. They won't be making the trip again at Christmas, so they're delivering the Christmas packages now.

Our own Thanksgiving will be celebrated without much travel. Isaac will drive home from college on Tuesday evening. Keely and Taurus live in Hopkinsville. I won't need to have the Christmas packages ready by Thanksgiving Day, but I do hope to put up my Christmas tree and wrap some gifts before Thanksgiving weekend is over.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Indignities Endured

Victim of excessive crafting



I saw this little angel, kneeling on a shelf at Goodwill in Hopkinsville. His huge ruff looks very uncomfortable.

There's something vaguely creepy about this little fellow. Sad to say, he would fit right into the set of a scary movie. In his current costume, he certainly could serve as a symbol of suffering!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Resistance Is Futile

That machine in front of Kroger


I was visiting with my neighbor Sally a few weeks ago, and I mentioned that Blockbuster Video was having financial problems. "Oh, no!" she exclaimed, visibly distressed.

"Yes," I said. "It seems that Blockbuster has been hurt by Redbox and Netflix. It's just not getting enough business to turn a profit."

"If we lose Blockbuster, we won't have a video rental store in Hopkinsville." Sally paused to imagine that situation. "Just what is that Netflix?" she demanded.

I explained Netflix the best I could, from my own second-hand knowledge. People subscribe to Netflix online. They choose movies from a huge list, and Netflix delivers the movies by mail. People find the service convenient and affordable.

"So, you have to own a computer," Sally said with disgust. "Well, I don't have one, and I don't want one! Going to the video store is part of what I really enjoy about renting a movie!"

"...that machine in front of Kroger"
"If Blockbuster closes," she continued, "the only place left to rent a movie will be that machine in front of Kroger. I don't want to rent a movie from a machine on a sidewalk. I want to go to a video store." (The machine in front of Kroger is, in fact, a Redbox, part of the competition that is giving Blockbuster so much trouble.)

So far, Blockbuster in Hopkinsville is still open, and I hope that Sally is renting enough movies to help it stay in business. However, when I won a $5 Blockbuster gift card at work recently, I decided to spend it right away, just in case our store closes. I didn't want the hassle of renting and returning a movie, so I just got $5 of microwave popcorn packets.

The law of supply and demand is at work here. Blockbuster is in financial trouble because many people have decided that lower prices and convenience are more desirable than a shopping experience in a store. The internet has played a part in that change.

I feel a little sad for Sally.  She has set her mind against having a computer. She could easily afford one, but maybe she is afraid she couldn't learn to use it. I don't think she'd have much trouble. She has mastered her DVD/VCR player and her satellite TV. Turning on the computer and getting on the internet is hardly that complicated.

Or maybe Sally has taken her anti-computer stance solely as a protest to unwanted change. Well, she can decide that she won't participate, but that won't stop computers and computerized machines from changing things.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buggy or Carriage?

Seen at the Mennonite store



Most of the "English" around Christian County, KY, would say there is a "horse and buggy" in this photo. However, the Mennonites would say that this is a "horse and carriage."

Webster's Unabridged Dictionary says that a buggy is a "light vehicle with two or four wheels, with or without a top, generally with one seat, and usually drawn by one horse".

A carriage, according to Webster's, is "a four-wheeled passenger vehicle, usually horse-drawn and often private." Dictionary.com adds that a carriage is "designed for comfort and elegance."

I think that vehicles like the one pictured above have two seats. I believe that some vehicles of this design also have a small cargo space behind the back seat. That second seat must be what makes this vehicle a carriage instead of a buggy -- to the discerning.

On the internet:
Word list: Carriages, Carts and Chariots

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Growing Older

Accepting what you cannot change


An old woman feeding birds in Kazimierz
the old Jewish district in Krakow, Poland.
Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

I clipped this stanza of verse from an old book, because this is how I would prefer to grow old -- with a zest for living.

At sixty-two life is begun;
At seventy-three begin once more.
Fly swifter as you near the sun,
And brighter shine at eighty-four.
At ninety-five
Shouldst thou arrive,
Still wait on God, and work and thrive.

Uncredited poet, quoted by Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, in All Around the House, or, How to Make Homes Happy. Published in New York, 1881, by D. Appleton and Co.

That's upbeat, don't you think? But apparently, the book's author, Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, thought it was an inadequate,  shallow vision of old age.

In a long, depressing commentary that follows the poem, Mrs. Beecher says that old age is often not the easy experience envisioned in the poem. She describes how someone can be doing very well as they clip along through life. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, a serious illness can transform robust maturity into helpless dependency.

Mrs. Beecher concludes her lament with this paragraph:

But to be stopped in the midst of usefulness and stricken down helpless — to become a burden where once one was most looked to for help — to meet this mysterious dispensation with patience and courage, and, without a murmur, cheerfully wait God's own good time — is an attainment which none acquire but those who live near to Heaven — whose "life is hid with Christ in God."

Mrs. Henry Ward Beecher, in All Around the House, or, How to Make Homes Happy. Published in New York, 1881, by D. Appleton and Co.

Mrs. Beecher is not wrong, but I'm not sure why she makes this point. Maybe she wants people to better understand the suffering that some endure. Or maybe she thinks people should better appreciate the saintliness of some who endure suffering.

Or is Mrs. Beecher reminding us that such suffering could be in our own futures? If so, this is my comment: God doesn't want His children to obsess and prematurely grieve over the infinity of ills that the future could hold. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about worry and asks, "Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" and "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." 


Related:
The Lord is My Shepherd

Monday, November 08, 2010

Oakland Manor

Historic home near Hopkinsville, KY



Oakland Manor, where Keely and Taurus were married a few weeks ago, is a lovely place. From early spring to late fall, it is a popular site for outdoor weddings. Many brides and grooms have walked the long flagstone sidewalk that leads to the gazebo.

As I look at some of the photos I took at Oakland Manor, the phrase "pastoral setting" comes to mind. The mansion, is surrounded by some of Christian County's finest farmland. It is located on Newstead Road, roughly 5 miles from the western outskirts of Hopkinsville.

Oakland (as it was originally named) was built in 1857 for a railroad executive named Gano Henry. Its architect and builder was Dan Umbenhour, who enjoys considerable renown and respect to this day for various structures he built in and around Hopkinsville.


After the Civil War, Henry sold the property to Dr. John Clardy, a local physician, farmer, and politician. The Clardy family lived in the home through the early 1930s, and the buildings were called "the old Clardy Place" for many years thereafter. A later owner of the house called it Dolly Oaks, and it is currently known as  Oakland Manor.

During the latter 1930s, the Farm Security Organization used the house as an office building. The home passed into private hands again in 1944. A more detailed history of the mansion by Mary D. Ferguson can be read in the April 14, 1967, Kentucky New Era (page 6 and page 7).

Today, Oakland Manor is owned by Melissa Jones, who has lived there since the late 1980s.  She hosts weddings, receptions, showers, parties, dinners, reunions, and events of all sorts, year round. Four Seasons Catering, operated by daughter and son-in-law Jennifer and Julio Diaz, has its headquarters on the property as well.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

A Cold Snap Approaches

A hard year for gardeners and farmers


November skies
I took this photo on my way home from work this afternoon. As the cloud cover breaks up, temperatures are falling. We are expecting a hard frost here in western Kentucky tomorrow night. The forecast says that the highs tomorrow will be in the upper 40s and the lows tomorrow night will be in the mid-20s. Brrrrr!

It will probably be cold enough tonight to finish off the New Guinea impatiens. They are such dedicated bloomers; they are still loaded with dozens of flowers even though they've gone through several nights that were colder than they really like. The pansies and marigolds are hardier. They should make it through tonight OK, and I will cover them tomorrow night.

A lady at work today told me that she still has tomatoes on the vine in her garden. Obviously, she has been watering her garden faithfully for months. I and a lot of other people gave up on our poor gardens a long time ago.

We've had a number of field fires in Christian County this fall due to the very dry conditions. Even though we had some rain a week or two ago, we had "Fire Weather" warnings again last week. The current weather system brought light showers as it moved in, but it was just enough rainfall to settle the dust until the sun comes back out.

At the polls last Tuesday, a neighbor told us that he has been feeding hay to his little herd of cattle for more than three months already, due to the drought. He didn't get much hay from his own fields, so he has been buying it. He'll have to buy hay all winter. He said that it takes the joy out of farming. (He meant that this year's calf crop probably won't pay this year's hay bill.)

And so another growing season is coming to its end. In the Pennyrile region of Kentucky, it's been a difficult year for farmers and gardeners. When the winter rains finally begin, it will be a good thing.


This fire in late October burned 130 acres near
Dawson Springs Rd. north of Hopkinsville. It
was finally extinguished through joint efforts
of 50-60 firefighters from 8 volunteer fire departments
and about 75 migrant workers from nearby farms.
Agri-Chem and the Garnett Farm helped haul water and
loaned their machinery. Smoke was visible for miles.

Monday, November 01, 2010

A 1903 Writer's View of America

Beauty, utility, method, and energy


While browsing through an old book, 300 Things a Bright Girl Can Do, I came across an interesting quotation. But before I share it, I'll swing a broad brush and paint a very rough picture of the United States 110 years ago, about the time that the book was written and published.

  • America had just concluded the Spanish American War. Teddy Roosevelt and the Roughriders were war heroes. Now Teddy Roosevelt was talking about a canal through the Isthmus of Panama.
  • The population of the United States was growing rapidly through immigration, especially from Europe. Ellis Island was one of the main entry points. 
  • The Hull House in Chicago was teaching immigrants, organizing children's clubs, and holding free lectures and concerts.
  • Homesteaders were still staking their claims on designated public lands in the western states.
  • Automobiles had recently been invented, and Wilbur and Orville Wright were working on an airplane. The pneumatic hammer, gas and steam turbines, radio, and the Brownie camera were all brand-new wonders.
  • Monopolies in steel, the railroads, and other industries were under attack. The government's weapon was the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
  • Factory and mine workers, expected to perform like machines, were organizing into unions and striking for better wages and working conditions.

Now, here are the sentences that caught my attention. Writer Lilla Elizabeth Kelley is describing changes in turn of the century America (1900 A.D.) to an unseen audience of "bright girls". Kelley connects several diverse conditions, concepts, and changes in American culture -- the labor movement, immigration, American exceptionalism, inventiveness, a recognition of the need for beauty, a respect for craftsmen -- all within a few, high-minded sentences.

A love and desire for the beautiful, like a great wave, is sweeping over the country. The time has come for all workers to unite beauty and utility, and the people of the United States are peculiarly fitted to do this.

From Europe many of the best craftsmen have come, seeking homes and opportunities in the new world. The fusion of European methods and American energy, ambition, and quickness of perception must develop art and originality, taking the sordidness from labor, and making the ideal practical.

Quoted from: 300 Things a Bright Girl Can Do (p.369) by Lilla Elizabeth Kelley, published in Boston by Dana Estes & Company, 1903.

Workers in the H. J. Heinz can factory stamping
out end discs (Wikimedia Commons image)

Friday, October 29, 2010

Kentucky Tree Frog

Looks like a lichen



I moved some flower pots on the porch the other day, and this little tree frog leaped out of them and stuck himself to the side of the house.

I've seen frogs of this sort before, but usually not on a tree. On a tree, their grayish coloration hides them very well. They look like lichens, and most of the trees out in the country have lots of lichens on their trunks. The tree frogs I spot, like this one, are somewhere that their camouflage doesn't work.

While I was looking at this little frog and taking his picture, he didn't even twitch. I suppose that's his instinctive behavior. If he sits completely still, he looks even more like he's part of the tree.

When I came back to the area a few minutes later, he was gone. He knew I had stopped hovering over him, and he seized the opportunity to get away.

I hope this little fellow found a warm burrow, last night. There's frost on the roof of my car this morning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tornado near Pembroke

Weather service confirms twister


The National Weather Service at Paducah has sent out investigators, and they've verified that a tornado also struck just south of Pembroke on Tuesday. (See "High Winds in Hopkinsville," Oct. 26, 2010, for more about the dangerous storm that passed through our area.)

The tornado passed a mile or so south of the Pembroke Elementary School. A staff member told me that the children spent much of that morning in "crouch and cover" position in the hallways.

Damage survey revealed EF0 tornado 2.5 miles south of Pembroke... from just north of Anderson Rd to near the Junction of Hwy 1453 and US Hwy 41. Peak wind estimated at 70 mph. Path length 2 miles intermittent. Path width 50 yards. Tree and several large tree limbs down. Tin damage to a couple of barns. (Source: National Weather Service, as reported on Weather Underground)

WKDZ reports a tornado near Central City in Muhlenberg County, in the path of the same storm front that spawned tornadoes in Christian County.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

High Winds in Hopkinsville

Severe weather brings welcome rain.



As I drove to work this morning, the wind was blowing mightily. The unpredictable gusts nearly knocked my car off the road. A heavy mass of storm clouds (above photo) was approaching Hopkinsville from the west/southwest.

On the radio, I heard several tornado warnings for Christian County and an unconfirmed report of a tornado touchdown within Hopkinsville, near the Indian Hills shopping center. As I looked at the black cloud over Hopkinsville, I wondered whether to continue on my way to work, turn around and go home, or find shelter somewhere along the road.

I drove on to work, keeping an eye out for funnel clouds. I was going to park my car and lie in the ditch if necessary. I'm glad I didn't have to do that.

Sheets of rain were coming down, as I got out of my car. I observed the wind direction and opened my umbrella against it, thinking I could block the driving raindrops. In a split second, a swirl of wind turned my umbrella completely inside out. I tried to use its strange new shape to keep my hair dry, as I ran to the building. It didn't work very well.

The National Weather Service has confirmed that a tornado did touch down in Hopkinsville. As tornados go, it was a mild one -- rated EF0, with winds of 80 mph. It damaged a metal building and the roof of Food Lion on Canton Pike, took part of the roof off a building in the Indian Hills area, and hit a barn on the Little River Church Road east of town (within a couple of miles of this photo!) Trees in the tornado's path were damaged and even uprooted.

A horse was killed at a farm on Bradshaw Road when a tree fell on it. This was probably not related to the tornado.

At our house, we had almost an inch of rain from the storm, and the moisture was very welcome. We've had an extended drought, here. In fact, drought disaster relief has been requested for Christian County, along with Todd, Trigg, Caldwell, and thirty-one more Kentucky counties.  Sunday afternoon, we had a slow, quiet rain, our first rain in a long, long time. We prefer rain like that -- without all the drama we had today -- but I guess we'll take whatever we get.

A Wedding Accomplished

A lovely bride and a beautiful day



Our daughter Keely and her fiance Taurus were married October 23, 2010, at Oakland Manor, Hopkinsville, KY. It was a small, simple, informal wedding.

During a chilly spell a couple of weeks before the wedding, I worried that the weather might be too cold to have the wedding outdoors. A few days later,  the temperatures rebounded to 80°F, and I worried that people might get hot and sunburned at the wedding. However, we were blessed with a beautiful day. It was about 75°F with a breeze and mostly overcast skies.

A number of family members traveled long distances to share the day. My brother came from Kansas, and my sister was here from Missouri , along with two sons and a fiancee. My aunt, uncle, and cousin came from northern Illinois, and another cousin and her daughter-in-law came from western Tennessee. My husband's sister and niece from Texas were here, as well as two more sisters and a nephew from Missouri.

I don't remember anything at all going wrong at the wedding. The bride and groom were radiant with happiness. It was clear that their vows were spoken from the heart. The pastor spoke eloquent words of wisdom to the bride and groom. The music was beautiful. I thought it was a really lovely ceremony, and many guests told me the same.

Life should settle down some, now. Perhaps I will even be able to gather my thoughts and write in my blog again!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Brooch Bouquet Update

Wedding crafts


Perhaps you wonder what I've been doing with my spare time lately. Well, I've been mastering the creation of metal daisies.

Here's a photo of some of the 50-or-so metal flowers I've made. Keely's wedding colors are sage green and chocolate brown, so I made my flowers as close as I thought I could to those colors.

The daisies are made from aluminum flashing. Each has two layers of petals and a fancy button at the center.

The tall sprays are made from some tiny brooches I bought on eBay.  I popped the pins off their backs and wired them to stems in groups of three.

And the two little flowers with orange centers and turquoise-beaded edges are buttons.

These will supplement the brooches in the bouquets for Keely's wedding (a smaller brooch bouquet for the maid of honor and a larger one for the bride.)

Last week, Keely wired (attached stems to) the brooches and assembled the smaller bouquet. She said she learned some things while doing it that will be helpful when she makes the larger bouquet. As you can see, the homemade flowers do help fill in the gaps.

I think Keely said that she might still attach some leaves. The stems will be wrapped with ribbon.

These photos don't really do it justice -- the flash was too harsh. It's very pretty. I was really amazed and happy that it looks so good. We're going to make the bride's bouquet this weekend.

I still have to make a few more flowers for the decorations. I will probably post a tutorial later about how to put them together, as I think my method is a big improvement over the instructions I started with. I'll also try to do a tutorial about how Keely wired the brooches and put the bouquet together.

Don't hold your breath, though. The tutorials aren't likely to appear until well after the wedding!

Related: 
Frolics, Larks, and Capers

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Eggner Ferry Bridge Repairs

In its final years


Eggner Ferry Bridge
Workmen were repairing one of the approaches to Eggner Ferry Bridge the last time I crossed Kentucky Lake. I found myself sitting on top of the bridge with twenty other cars, waiting to snake through the work zone. While I was parked in that unusual place, I took these photos of the bridge suspension from my car window.

Eggner Ferry Bridge is named for the Eggner Ferry that crossed the Tennessee River at that location for many years. The ferry ceased operation when this bridge was built across the river in 1932. In the early 1940s, the bridge was raised and extended before the Tennessee river was dammed* and Kentucky Lake was formed.

Eggner Ferry Bridge
We are now in 2010, and the Eggner River Bridge is far too narrow for the volume of traffic it sees.   A new 4-lane bridge is supposed to be completed by 2017. Highway 68/80 through Land Between the Lakes (LBL) is being made 4-lane, and a 4-lane bridge will be built over Lake Barkley on the east side of LBL.

In the meantime, the existing bridges must be repaired as necessary to keep them safe. These last few years are going to be especially rough on them because of all the heavy trucks bringing materials for the road and bridge construction.

I got these photos ready to post a couple of weeks ago, and now I see that I misspelled "Eggner" when I labeled them. They will have to stay that way for now. I've been having computer problems, and with the setup I'm using currently, I don't have much for photo-editing software to correct my error.  Like the bridges, my computers need some repair, maintenance, and eventual replacement!

__________

* Kentucky Dam on the Tennessee River and Barkley Dam on the Cumberland River are just two of many dams that were built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) during the 1930s and 1940s.

When Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam were built, hundreds of families were relocated from the Tennessee River valley, the Cumberland River valley, and the Land Between the Rivers near the Kentucky/Tennessee border and northward. Hundreds of homes and buildings were torn down. Cemeteries were moved to high ground. The "Land Between The Rivers" became the "Land Between The Lakes" under TVA control. Much of the two lakes' outer shore lines was put under state control.

Related:
Old Bridges at Land Between the Lakes, KY
A Very Windy Day!

Kentucky Lake seen from Eggner Ferry Bridge
 

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Life in New York City, c. 1920

City life compared to country life


The following paragraphs are excerpted from World Geographies: Second Book, Kentucky Edition (p. 74) by Ralph S. Tarr and Frank M. McMurry, published in New York by the MacMillan Company in 1922.


Life in the Great City


"Heart of New York City," about 1908.
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,

Detroit Publishing Company Collection
"Heart of New York City," about 1908.
City Hall Park in foreground
Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division,
Detroit Publishing Company Collection
The contrast between life in New York City and upon a farm is striking. On some of the streets scarcely anything but stores can be seen for ten or twelve miles, many of them being small, but some occupying enormous buildings, and employing many hundreds of clerks.

Families whose homes are in the city do not usually occupy a whole house, but often hundreds of people live in one building. Such a structure, called an apartment building, may be from six to eight stories high, and some are from fifteen to twenty. They are so arranged that one family occupies only a small part of one floor, called an apartment, or flat. Other families live above and below, as well as on each side, being separated by only a few inches of brick or boards. Since land is so valuable, sometimes costing scores of dollars a square foot, there is usually neither front nor back yard.

In the poorer sections of the city the people are even more densely crowded. Some of the children have never seen the country, and scarcely any birds, trees, or grass, except possibly in one of the city parks. In these crowded sections, there are many foreigners from all the nations of the earth.

To escape such a crowded city life, tens of thousands of men live in suburban towns, or country homes, from ten to forty miles from their places of business. Every day they spend from one to three hours traveling back and forth. Some ride upon elevated railways built in the street, two, three, and four stories above the ground and supported by iron columns. Others go by train in the subway, which extends for many miles underground, and even crosses under the rivers to Brooklyn, Jersey City, and Hoboken.

How different all this is from the country, where only two or three houses may be seen at a time! Where sunlight and fresh air enter one's home from all sides of the building! Where there is plenty of room to play, with green grass, large trees, and singing birds in the yard! No wonder that people living in great cities are anxious to visit the country, the mountains, the lakes, and the seashore, during a few weeks in the summer.

Monday washday in New York City tenements, c. 1910.
Library of Congress, Prints &Photographs Division,
Detroit Publishing Company Collection
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.