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, June 25, 2013

The Spattered Silhouette

Friday afternoon art classes


When I was a little girl attending Duff Valley District 4, we all loved Friday afternoons. (I'm speaking for myself and the half-dozen other students in our little one-room schoolhouse.) Of course, Friday afternoons were wonderful because the weekend lay ahead. And the other reason that they were wonderful was that we had art class after last recess.

We all did the same art project, no matter which grade we were in -- kindergarten, eighth grade, or anything  between. Some of us cut, pasted, and colored a lot better than others, but before we went home on Friday afternoon, everyone's project was pinned to a bulletin board where it would be displayed for the next week or two. Seeing my handwork in comparison with the others motivated me to cut, paste, and color more neatly.

And we did do a lot of cutting, pasting, and coloring. Sometimes the teacher used the hectograph to copy a coloring sheet, and sometimes, we drew our own pictures. Sometimes we cut pieces from construction paper and pasted the pieces together to make a valentine or a turkey or whatnot.

A lot of our art work was flat, but I do remember some three-dimensional projects:  flowers cut from egg carton sections or made from crepe paper, mosaics made with shards of Easter-egg shells, and even a sculpture of a cow's head made from crumpled aluminum foil.

Once in a while, our teacher got out the water-paint boxes or mixed up a batch of tempera paint. We all painted whatever she announced our subject would be -- such as "trees in autumn colors." And once in a blue moon, we did a finger-painting.

We painted just often enough to make us super-excited when we got to do it again. I am not sure whether we painted so rarely because paints were expensive or because our teachers hated the mess.

I remember quite a bit of spatter painting.  It only required one color of paint, and the paint was applied with the teacher's close supervision, outside if the weather permitted. It only took a minute to do the spattering. The procedure was this:

  • Draw or trace a shape and cut it out. 
  • Lay the cut-out (or several cut-outs) on a sheet of construction paper.
  • Put on a very large shirt, backwards.
  • Dip the bristles of an old toothbrush in tempera paint and scrub the toothbrush over a small window screen so little drops of paint spray all over the paper.
  • Let the paint dry and remove the cut-outs.

The day that I made my silhouette the teacher set up the filmstrip projector while we were gone to recess. When we came back inside, we took turns sitting in the projector's bright light and tracing each other's silhouettes. Then we cut out our silhouettes and spatter-painted them. I think I was in third or fourth grade at the time.

I did dozens of Friday afternoon art projects before I left country school at the end of 8th grade, but the only one I still have is my silhouette. I found it in my mother's things after she passed away.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

400 Mile Yard Sale 2013

Some of the sights around Hopkinsville, KY


Old iron tools

It's good that the 400 Mile Yard Sale is held for 4 days. This year, it rained all day Thursday and half of Friday. But Saturday was a beautiful day of sunshine. Keely and I left her house at 8:00 AM (which is early for us on a Saturday.)

First we went to some sales around Hopkinsville. Many of them were unimpressive, but we loved the sale at the Senior Center. The parking lot and auditorium was full of tables of merchandise, and many of the vendors were ready to deal. I found a 1902 health book for just $2. (I love old textbooks.) Keely bought a rock-band poster and a hat.

At the Senior Center in Hopkinsville
Bargain bling

A nice lady in a zany hat had a lot of jewelry on her table. I 'm collecting shiny things for a craft project, so I bought a bag of jewelry odds and ends and mismatches and another little set of matching earrings and brooch.

A bit of Hopkinsville history
Fun-to-see art at the Senior Center

From the Senior Center, we drove east of Hopkinsville on 68/80. There was at least one yard sale per mile between Hopkinsville and Fairview, and in some of the miles, there were several sales.  Keely was looking for baby things for her friend who is pregnant. She found a nice baby swing for just $15 -- it's the sort that can swing either sideways or back and forth.

Lots of baby items at this sale

Butler Antiques from Hopkinsville and several other antique and flea market dealers always set up their sales on a hill a few miles east of Hopkinsville. Two years ago, I bought a chest of drawers for my son there, and last year I bought a nice wooden cabinet for my utility room. This year I only bought little things, so I didn't have to go home and get the truck to haul furniture -- thank goodness!


I liked the red chest, but I didn't need it!

Loved the colorful glass in the sunshine!

The Eastview Baptist Church is usually our next stop after the sale on the hill. In past years, they've had a huge yard sale event with dozens of people selling. But this year they didn't have enough volunteers to staff it. The Kentucky New Era reported that they hope to participate again next year. We have always enjoyed their sale immensely,  and we felt a bit sad when we drove by their empty church yard.


To our surprise, an Amish lady was one of several sellers at this site. From the place where the two men are standing, the sales continued around a corner, up a little hill, and around another corner.


We weren't sure if the next sale was really a yard sale or not. The sign on the highway said, "Pool Table." But we turned off and drove up the hill, and sure enough, they were having a yard sale that included various pieces of art. I think the $2800 price tag on a sculpture was the most expensive thing we saw all day. But it was an interesting work of someone's hands, and I enjoyed seeing it. Coming back down the hill to the highway, we enjoyed the view.

Finally we arrived in Fairview. The little town was having a big day, and as always, the Jefferson Davis memorial was towering above it all. Lots of Mennonites were visiting the sales and riding through town on their bicycles and in horse-drawn vehicles. The buckboard in the photo below is essentially a one-horsepower pickup truck.


The Fairview Fire Department was selling barbecue sandwiches and cold drinks, as well as yard-sale items. The clothes on one of their trailers were 4/$1.00, so I bought some t-shirts to cut up. (I look for shirts that have no side seams so I can cut the bodies of the shirts into long continuous strips for crocheted rugs.)

Support your local volunteer fire department!

We were losing our momentum after seven straight hours of yard sales, so we decided to end this year's 400 Mile Yard adventure. We stopped at the Mennonite grocery store on our way out of Fairview, and then I took Keely back to Hopkinsville. As I drove back out to my country home, I thought about all the sellers who had started at dawn and wouldn't close until dusk. I was glad to be just a shopper, able to quit and go home anytime I wanted.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Time Travel: Kansas to California, 1896

"I am stuck on California and have got it bad."


A letter to the editor of the Narka News (Narka, Kansas)

Los Angeles, Cal., Jan 1 1896
ED, NEWS:

When I left Narka, [Kansas,] I promised to write to our neighbors but as we had so many -- and true friends-- I thought best to write one to you, giving a little outline of my trip, and if you will publish it, it will do for them all.


Denver and Rio Grande Railroad map, 1891
Image from Wikimedia
As we left Narka on election day, we stopped in Belleville twenty minutes, met Daisy and Grandma Short; had a pleasant chat with them, bade them good-bye, and knew nothing more until morning when we arrived at Pueblo. Here we made close connections, taking the Denver and Rio Grande for Ogden.

Along this road, the scenery is very beautiful. You would have to look up twice to see the top of the peaks while close to the track was a beautiful stream of water running very swiftly over rocks and pebbles, making it seem like old New York State.


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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.