Monday, March 31, 2008

Check out my Slide Show!

Sketch Crawl in Calvert, Texas

Waiting for Zamykal Kolache Shop to Open
Calvert, Texas
This was an early start to our day of sketching for the World Wide Sketch Crawl. Barbara stopped by the kolache shop in Calvert to bring us some kolaches to enjoy for breakfast. We had strawberry and cherry, and were they good! Fresh out of the oven, too.
While she waited on the shop to open, she got in some sketching of Highway 6, down the center of Calvert.
(Too bad that we weren't into art and sketching what we saw back in the days when Calvert was a busy town, especially on Saturdays. All those wagons and cars parked on the street, and people crowding the sidewalks and stores would be something to see now. We just have to try to remember what it was like and work on those things from memory. It all seemed too ordinary to even take a picture of, at the time.)
She traveled on to Bryan to pick up my grandson and me, and we all went downtown to work for the event.
If you have some sketches that you did that day, I would love to see them and share them, if you would like. Just let me know.
I'm still having trouble adding more than one image and, according to the help section, other people are having problems too. I may just have to post some individual things, as that does seem to work. Maybe I should try a slideshow, but I need individual urls, I think, to post them on the Sketch Crawl site.

Bryan Sketches

18th World Wide
Sketch Crawl
Saturday March 29
Bryan, Texas
I used a #314 Draughting pencil to do this.
My sister, working in downtown Bryan on Saturday. She elected to use oils and do some plein aire painting of a street scene. She does lots of outdoor work, so she was prepared to work!
I'll add what she did when she sends me a photo. Her painting, of course, was not dry enough to scan and none of us thought about taking photos until we were back home.
I seem to still be having trouble posting images on this blog. It let me add one, then keeps telling me that I am probably not connected to the internet. I may have to add each of them in a separate post, the way it's going.
Just a Thought:
Doesn't it seem like February and March have just flown by? It seems like the first of February was just a few days past when it was the end of the month. Now, it feels the same way for March. I'm still thinking of things that I intended to do for the month, and now it's almost gone.
If you are in this area, be sure to go over to see "Extracurricular" at the P.David Romei Art Center in College Station. This show is of work submitted by Brazos Valley Art Teachers. Among that group, there are some outstanding artists. There is a reception for them at the Art Center April 3 at 5:30 p.m.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

18th World Wide Sketch Crawl

It's come and gone, the 18th World Wide Sketch Crawl that I've been telling you about. It was a lot of fun, and I hope that, where ever you are, you joined in drawing Saturday.

Here in Bryan, thunderstorms rumbled through at night, keeping pets and their owners awake. But after a night of little sleep on Friday, we got up early Saturday morning and drove to downtown Bryan. Fog and cool temperatures, made the landscape hazy and added a little feeling of mystery.
My sister, my grandson, and I loaded up the station wagon with our supplies for the day, and found The Frame Gallery downtown. We met Greta Watkins. and her beautiful dog, in the Gallery, and signed in there.
I suggested several interesting spots for sketching and we settled in front of the old Queen Theatre. Historic buildings, a barber shop in an old Lodge building, the Carnegie Library with a garden area and railroad tracks behind it, the LaSalle Hotel with a coffee shop that we thought might come in handy, and people on the streets were just some of the things that I had considered in thinking of where we might work. The old ice house at the end of the street was tempting, too. But our time was limited as my sister was planning to leave about noon.
My sister pulled out her plein aire painting equipment and set up in the landscaped median to work on a street scene.
My grandson and I set up a camping chair beside a bench at the old Palace Theatre (now an outdoor theatre, for those of you who are not local). We each had our sketchbooks, drawing pencils, pens, and I took along a pad of watercolor paper and my travel Winsor Newton watercolor set.
Several people stopped to see what my sister was painting. And we had quite a few people passing by on the sidewalk in front of us, including a young man who was enjoying his skate board and cell phone on a Saturday morning.
We drew to the cooing of Mourning Doves and watched the antics of tiny Sparrows on the sidewalk, and the fluttering of Pigeons among the buildings. Traffic noises were minimal on the wide streets. Chimes from the churches downtown added to the peaceful mood.
My grandson was interested in eating ham and cheese kolaches and in his latest toy of choice-light sabres from "Star Wars". So, with all that was around us, he drew a light sabre. He was also up late the night before, which usually makes him a bit on the negative side the next day. And I was so sleepy, I felt like it was all a dream and just couldn't wait until I could close my eyes. Still, it was very pleasant to be downtown Bryan, as always.
Some years ago, I was fortunate in being able to share studio space with several other artists near the Old Post Office and the Episcopal Church. It was such a peaceful place to work, especially early in the morning, I thought.
I sketched a building that was once a bank and now has a sandwich shop downstairs. A large clock in the median was also interesting as were the street lights. On top of the building, was a large American flag.
I also did getsture drawings of the boy and his skateboard, as well as a bit of the barber shop and the crown on the Queen sign.
I planned to do a sketch of the wide street, with the ice house at the end, but I couldn't see the building from our location. Instead, I sketched part of the LaSalle Hotel and the Howell building.
I did the buildings on watercolor paper, in pencil, but didn't have time to use any color. Those are ready to paint, now. I did the people in my sketchbook with a #314 Draughting pencil.
By then, it was time to leave. We checked in at the Frame Gallery, and showed what we did.
We learned that there was a mother and daughter team from Robertson County out sketching, also.
My grandson sat down on a couch and fell in love with the dog. It seemed to be mutual. Now that was a picture, with the dog's head in his lap. Of course, he now wants a sweet dog like that. Unfortunately, we forgot to get the camera out, so we just had our sketches to record the day.

As we left downtown, we saw the ladies from Robertson county sketching, and passed another who seemed to be standing up while drawing.
My sister left, and I came in and took a short nap. (My eyes were just closing!) My intention was to go out sketching again in the afternoon to the lake at the Municipal Golf Course, to the County Fair in its new home at the new Expo Center, to the Vet School Open House, or just along my street where the Indian Paintbrushes and Bluebonnets are blooming. But, "the Sandman" just wouldn't let me keep my eyes open any longer.
Later, I decided to darken up some of my sketches before I scanned them.
I noticed on the Sketch Crawl forum where people are posting their work, that there are some maps that show where people were from, and also some groups showed where they were sketching. Some had really great photos! (What hardy souls they are in places like Sweden, where they were outside sketching while there was still snow! )
From the map, it looked like there were people working in over 50 different locations around the world.
I decided that I needed to add a bit more to my sketches, so I did a little cartoon map of where we went, finished a sketch of my sister working, and the women who we saw sketching, and thought about doing a sketch of my grandson with his blue hooded sweater, sitting in a blue chair. (So many pictures, so little time!)
My sister's oil painting was wet, but she is going to send me a photo of what she did to add online.

The other local people could add their work to mine, but, unfortunately, I don't know who they are, or how to contact them. So, if you know them, you might let them know that I will post their pictures for them, or they can do it themselves, if they want to. It isn't required, but it would be nice to know who participated and see what they worked on.

Now that we know more about the Sketch Crawl , and have tried one, maybe we can get something going to involve more people in this area. The next one, the 19th Sketch Crawl, should be in another 2 or 3 months. I'll let you know. And you can be sure to check their website, register, and do the crawl where you are. I'll have a link in my sidebar , you can do a search for Sketch Crawl, or click on .

After I get my pictures posted on this blog, I will work on posting them on the Sketch Crawl site. I still have to figure that out.
Anyway, the Sketch Crawl is really a fun idea and I hope that you will join in the next one. (Plan now!)

I used to enjoy taking my students out to sketch. In one elementary school, we would load up several buses and take the kids down to the harbor where several boats had washed up during a hurricane. I never had time to draw myself, but was busy with the students. I think they enjoyed it, too, and many of them had some excellent art work as a result of those trips.



Works by Art Teachers of the Brazos Valley
Texas Gallery
Arts Council of Brazos Valley

Opens March 31
Show goes through April 30
Reception: April 3 5:30 p.m.

Monday-Thursday 9 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Friday 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. -2 p.m.

See you at the reception! I have a piece in the show.


Be sure to let me know if you sketched Saturday!

And sign my Guest Book if you haven't already. You will find it all the way at the bottom of the page.

Thank you for reading and sharing. I do appreciate your interest and your comments.

Friday, March 28, 2008

World Wide Sketch Crawl Update

Monument Hill
6" x 9"
World Wide Sketch Crawl
Saturday March 29
Tomorrow is the big day for everyone to get out there and draw/journal your surroundings. So get ready, get set......
Now, here is the deal for here Bryan/College Station area. If you are local and would like to join us, that's great!
If you are somewhere else, you might find a group on the Sketch Crawl website at or you are welcome to work with your own group or alone.
If you only have a few minutes to work that is fine, or you can draw all day. Whatever is best for you.
Remember that this is for everyone, everywhere, all levels and ages.
And it's Free!
Greta Watkins from the Frame Gallery downtown has offered to have people check in with her, just so we have some idea of how many and who all will be participating locally. Also, some might like to meet at the LaSalle Hotel where they have a coffee shop. It's easy to find too. We could meet in the courtyard or inside the coffee shop. There is parking in a lot at the end of that block near the hotel, I'm told. I'm also told that they have good coffee, if you are a coffee drinker.
We are thinking about 8:30 a.m. But, if you want to start earlier, that's fine, too.
Everyone can then spend the morning sketching anywhere you want to. Downtown would be great, but there are so many intersting places, and so many events going on in the area, that there is plenty of material.
I've heard that we have the possilibity of isolated thunderstorms as a front is coming through, but we can still work indoors, if needed. Rain or shine, we're drawing tomorrow!
If anyone would like to meet for lunch, they could do that. More sketching in the afternoon, then, if you would like to meet to share what you have done, we could do that.
We would love to see everyone's work!
You can post some of your work on the Sketch Crawl site, your own website or blog, or, if we get some response and people want to, we might set up a blog just for this work. It isn't required, of course, but we might not know if you participated, if we don't hear from you.
I know that we got a sort of late start on this, so, maybe, if you can't do the Sketch Crawl this time, we can do it for the next one in 2 or 3 months. It just sounds like such a neat idea-everyone all over the world, drawing, all at one time. Recording the way things are now, thoughts, etc.
Let me know what you think! And, "Draw, draw, draw!"
Music From Ireland
Congratulations to Miss Simpson and the music students at Mary Branch. They had a delightful program last night with the 4th graders performing "Music From Ireland". The kids were so cute dressed in green, white, and orange t-shirts with a flag of Ireland on the wall behind them. How could you not be tapping your toes and singing along to "McNamara's Band" and "Danny Boy"! They even sang a wee bit in Gaelic.
Youth Art Month
Art Fest
Did you know that March is Youth Art Month? This is observed each year. The Bryan ISD is having an Art Fest at Bryan High on Saturday from 10:00 to 2:00 with exhibits of student work and demonstrations and workshops. They have a big art program and always have amazing art work to show.
Brazos Valley Art Teachers Show
P.David Romei Art Center
Brazos Valley Art Teachers have been invited to show their art work in the Art Center during the month of April.
Also this weekend
Youth Livestock Show at the new Expo Center
Open House at the TAMU Vet School
Thanks for reading and sharing! Please sign my guest book and join my group, if you haven't already.
"Monument Hill" is a small watercolor done near La Grange, Texas. It is on 140# paper, using Winsor Newton watercolors.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Art Abounds

Art Abounds
"I Want A Light Saber"
10.5" x 6.75"
The pick up date for entries for the Brazos Valley Art League Juried Show at the P. David Romei Art Center in College Station is Thursday March 27th, rather than the 28th. The date was changed due to an activity scheduled at the Art Center. You can go to the BVAL website for more information and a list of the winners. I have a link to their website under Organizations in my sidebar. So, if you have an entry there, be sure to go pick it up on Thursday.
World Wide Sketch Crawl Saturday March 29
Brush off your sketchbook or journal. Get out that paper and pencil. Or watercolors, pen and ink, or whatever you like to draw with. Scrape together some paper or whatever you like to draw on.
Let's all sketch/journal on Saturday March 29, where ever you are, and no matter how much time you have to spend- a few minutes or all day! No matter what your level is, or your favorite media, go out and spend some time drawing what you see around you-indoors or outdoors. Grownups, children, professionals, beginners, groups, families, or individuals.
It's Free!
For more information, go to .
Let me know if you plan to participate. And, afterward, I would love to know what you recorded.
I would really like to see this happen locally, too. Let's Draw the Brazos Valley!
Please pass this on to anyone who you think might like to take part in the Sketch Crawl.
If you need more information, let me know. Just click on the contact address in my sidebar.
Art Fest
Local schools are having their annual Art Fest on Saturday. Student art work, workshops, and demonstrations will be featured.
Robertson County Fair
This is the time for the annual Robertson County Fair in Hearne, Texas. Besides all the events with animals, there is usually a homemaking division and an art show. Lots of things to see there, and a carnival.
Open House
Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine
and Biomedical Sciences
The Open House is always an interesting event at A&M. I'm not sure if they have an art show along with it this year, but they will have things like teddy bear surgery, a petting zoo, aquatic treadmill and rehabilitation, exotic animals, live surgery, a demonstration with frisbee dogs, Houston mobile zoo, mounted and K-9 search and rescue, wildlife rehabilitation, dary cow milking demonstration, and more. Visit for more information.
George Bush Presidential Library and Museum
2008 Art Contest
(for Brazos Valley Students)
The theme for this year's competition is "Framing Issues From Historic Places". This competiton is open through the art teachers in the Brazos Valley area, which includes 15 counties. Entires are due March 31-April 2. Each art teacher is allowed a limited number of entries. The winners will be displayed in the museum and there will be an awards ceremony.
For more information, go to the George Bush Presidential Library website and look under Education.
They do have a lovely facility and some very interesting programs and exhibits.
Art Abounds
Yes, there seems to be a lot of art and activities around this time of year, especially. We used to have a big Youth Art Show at the Brazos Center, at the same time as the art shows for the county fair, and the vet school open house. A very busy time, especially for art teachers. And, now, we have a youth art show with a deadline coming up the 31st through April 2 for the George Bush Library.
I always wanted my students to take advantage of every opportunity to show their work. Not for the sake of winning and competition (that's icing on the cake), but just so that someone else could see what they had done and appreciate their thoughts and efforts. I look at it as more sharing. Otherwise, it may only be seen by the teacher, fellow students, maybe the family, or it might go in a closet, under the bed, or in the trash. Of course, No Pass/No Play that rules what students can and cannot participate in, ruined it for most of my students.
In my painting above, I have shown our Texas Independence Day visit to one of the galleries in the MSC. My youngest grandson and I had been to a concert in Rudder Tower of the A&M concert and symphonic bands. He sat through the program like a young gentlemen, and helped me with signs and finding things.
And he went with me to try to see Shep Smith from Fox News broadcasting in the Flag Room. (I couldn't see a thing with the blinding tv lights! But I could hear him and make out that there were people at a table.)
But, I think my grandson was tired and running out of patience by the time I insisted that we go into the art gallery where there was an exhibit of Anthony Quinn's art work. By then, all I heard was, "Call Mama" , "I want to go home", "I'm not going in there", and "I want a light saber".
I tried my best to point out that something was very old, or exciting, but the only thing that he was impressed with were some things that had real gold, silver, and jewels in them. I think that he was trying to hide his interest in some things, because he did look.
I finally told him that I had been looking forward to seeing this and for him to just be patient while I looked. We had to wait a little while before his mother got there to pick us up, anyway. He finally sat on a padded bench in front of a big wall of windows that overlooked the entrance to the MSC from the fountain area. He squirmed and seemed to pout, and told me about the light saber that he wants. He says that it is $200! I don't think so.
We waited for our ride on a bench under live oak trees that line the sidewalk,and talked. We watched some people in what looked like some kind of sports uniforms as they crossed over to G. Rollie White, the old gym. They had on red and white shorts and shirts, that looked like they had a diagonal band across the shirts.
When we got home, I wanted to record our trip to the concert, so I did this little painting of our museum visit. In this painting, the colors are not true as I scanned them. Where there is so much yellow, the color is actually yellow green. For some reason, the blue doesn't seem to have picked up. Yet other shades of blue do show.
I added some of the people that we saw as they walked near us, and a newspaper rack that isn't there anymore. That area used to be filled with newspaper racks from everywhere. I always enjoyed seeing those, and picking up a copy of the campus newspaper when I visited. I guess they think that everyone is online now and, possibly, the newspapers left a mess when people would just scatter them after they were through reading. I prefer a paper newspaper and paper magazines and books, personally. That walkway really looks bare without the newspaper racks.
I did another small watercolor of the concert, as I saw it, through my eyes, that I will post another time.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter II

computer drawing

Today's image is by my youngest grandson. He experiments in a lot of different media. Lately, he has been really involved with computers from games to designing cars. He would like to create his own blog. Until then, I can share some of his creations on my blog.
I thought that this one was appropriate for this day as we watch movies like "King of Kings" and "Easter Parade" on tv and wait for the Easter ham to be done. (Sure smells good, with the cloves , pineapple, and cherries baking on the ham.)

We all slept late today as there was a car wreck in the brand new tunnel last night. That tied up traffic as the family was coming home after picking him my oldest grandson from work and getting last minute groceries. We all got to bed very early in the morning, and, as usual, I didn't get any sleep until after the sun came up. ( I got back in that habit after being up all night with the last round of flu.)
Hmmm. Wasn't this the multi million dollar project, complete with mosaics, that was supposed to prevent traffic tie ups on that very busy street? The reasoning for the tunnel was because trains sometimes blocked traffic when it might be needed by an emergency vehicle, or just ordinary traffic. So, they have spent a long while, and lots of money, moving the street under the tracks. Now we learn that one car in an accident can close the road, and block traffic, just like a train did in the past.

It doesn't seem like Easter without going to church in the morning, having a big family over for Easter dinner at noon, hunting eggs, and the like. Oldest grandson has to work today and tonight, daughter is cooking, youngest grandson is playing with his latest computer game or watching his movie, and I have on "King of Kings" on tv, and am at the computer. Just like most days. We'll have our Easter supper tonight and the oldest will have his special meal when he gets home. And, tonight, I look forward to watching "East Enders" on tv, just like most Sunday nights now.
We probably should be making some better memories.

Please remember to sign my guest book. Go all the way to the bottom of the page and add your name, and a picture, if you want to. It doesn't have to be of you, but it can be of a place, your art work, or just leave it blank.

You can also sign up for my blog by subscribing, or join my Google Group, Art By Cecelia.
I hope that you are planning to go out somewhere and sketch (and journal) Saturday March 29th. Join the Worldwide Sketch Crawl that day. You can sketch for a few minutes or all day. It's free! All you need is something to draw on and something to draw with, and the interest in recording what is around you.
For more information, you can look in my sidebar for a link, do a search for Sketch Crawl, or click on
I registered for it and I hope that others will as well.
I hope that a group in our area will get together and "draw the Brazos Valley" and participate in the sketch day around the world. Woudn't that be a neat thing! Especially now that the Bluebonnets are popping out.
We have a lot here that would make excellent subject matter.

This is for everyone-beginners, professionals, students, children, adults, families, groups or individuals. Just go out and draw what is around you. You can post some of your sketches on their website and your own, or anywhere you want. And, maybe, a spectator might like what you do so much that they want to own it.

Let me know what you think. I'm looking forward to it and think it is such a neat idea.

Be sure to see the Brazos Valley Art League Juried Show at the P.David Romei Art Center in College Station, if you haven't been already. Pick up entries March 28th.
Easter Eggs
These children were all dressed up for Easter in the early 1970s.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter

Happy Easter!!
8" x 10"
Wishing you and yours every happiness and blessing on this very special Easter day.
Spring is here. Grass and leaves are bright green. Bluebonnets and other spring flowers are beginning to show and, soon, some areas will be blanketed with blue, pink, red, and yellow.
In my little painting, above, I have shown a narrow barn with Mesquite trees in the background. My father used to love to work out in the family's various pastures out in the country. He loved to ride his tractor and mow or to do heavy work that others said he should not do. He liked to show his strength. One pasture that he rented just north of town had a lot of Mesquite trees. But there were just too many and that meant that there wasn't much grass for the cattle to feed on. The Mesquite trees thrived, no matter what. He would cut them down and, before you knew it, they were back with more than he had to begin with. They multiplied instead of dying out. You can see a little tractor with Daddy riding among the Mesquite trees in my picture. There are also a couple of bales of hay because he had to feed the cows since there wasn't that much grass in this pasture.
We thought that the trees were pretty with their bright colors and lacey leaves, until we found out that they had thorns. I remember in a painting workshop that I took with my mother, she asked the instructor, Harry Ahysen, how to paint leaves on trees like Mesquite and Willow trees. They are certainly different from the roundness that we work with in things like Oak trees.
Also in my painting, there are two children (a boy and a girl) , sitting near the barn, playing among the Bluebonnets. Maybe they are waiting to hunt Easter Eggs hidden in the flowers.
Poochie, our dog when I was growing up, is sitting, watching a butterfly. Poochie was an excellent Easter Egg hunter! She often beat us to the eggs, and ate them! And, if we couldn't find some and the "Easter Bunny" couldn't remember where he hid them all, Poochie would find them. We came home with less eggs than Mama had decorated.
We didn't actually go to the country to hunt eggs. This was actually a spring picture. But, it sort of fits with spring and Easter and memories of childhood.
"The Easter Bunny" (Daddy) usually hid eggs for us in the park just a half block away, before Sunday School and Church at Sneed Memorial Methodist Church. Some years, they were hidden in the yard or at the school, which was on the other side of us. If the weather was bad, we got to hunt eggs, over and over, in the house. We didn't have candy eggs, big chocolate bunnies, or baskets stuffed with goodies, unless it was a coloring book or paper doll book and some crayons. We had a colored straw basket with some green Easter Grass in it. And we added the eggs that Mama had colored for us with egg dye and vinegar.
Some years, when we were small, we had a big Easter Egg hunt on the lawn of the Methodist Church, or on the school grounds, and some years, in the park. Those were fun when there were lots of kids. And stressful for little ones, and their older siblings, who had trouble finding the eggs. Of course, we had to try to make sure that Poochie didn't come. She would have found all the eggs! And Poochie was one loyal dog who would find us, especially my little sister, where ever she went.
At noon, after church, everyone gathered with their families for a big Easter dinner, with the good china, crystal and silver. Mama would usually bake the ham as her's came out the best. Sometimes we ate at Grandma Conitz's house until she couldn't do the cooking anymore. Some years, we had our dinner at Pappy's house, or Toot's (two of my great-aunts). Or some years we had the dinner at our small house.
The menu was about the same for each family dinner, except we had ham at Easter and turkey for Thanksgiving and Christmas. We had red roast and red gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potatos with marshmallows on top, ambrosia, creamed corn, English peas, stuffed celery sticks and carrot sticks, spiced peaches, deviled eggs, rolls and bread with coffee, water, or iced tea to drink. The salad was always either a Jello salad with fruit, or a pear or peach half or pineapple ring on a lettuce leaf with a dollop of mayonnaise. For dessert, there was pie-apple, chocolate, mince meat and, sometimes, Grandma made Boston Cream Pie. Fresh whipped cream topped the pie. We also had cake and Bakeless Cake, which had to have whipped cream on top, too.
After dinner, grownups did the dishes, sat around the table and visited, while we begged to go to the picture show or sat under the table and decorated underneath with our crayons. Sometimes we would go outside and sit around. Grownups would take a short nap while we read the funny papers and waited anxiously for our Sunday afternoon ride through the Brazos Bottom, to A&M, or to Marlin and Waco.
Some years, we had a community sunrise service in the bandstand in the park. I remember one year, at least, that the CHS band played for the service. I thought that was nice, though it was so early! I always thought that the park was underutilized for community events. To see a picture of the bandstand, you can scroll down to my Spring Break post and see a picture of the bandstand in the snow, a few years back. It really was a lovely place.
Of course, fashions played a big part in our Easter observance. Socks with lace and matching panties and a handkerchief, a new purse to twirl, a pastel colored dress, with a matching hat, white shoes and gloves, and a pastel colored coat and sweater, in case of an Easter Snap, were shopped for, months in advance. Ladies hats, matching dress, coat, sweater, white gloves and light colored shoes, a matching purse were also planned for months. My mother sewed, but, our good dresses had to come from Cox's or Goldstein Miguel in Marlin or Waco, or Jack and Jill in Marlin. We looked through catalogues and newspaper for ideas, but we spent hours and hours in the stores, trying on and finding just the right outfit.
For men, there were spring suits, but they often just brought out one they already had, took it to the tailor shop if it needed updating, had it cleaned, bought a new shirt, tie, socks, and shoes, had their hat shaped or bought a new one, and got a new handkerchief for their pocket.
I don't remember that there was anyone who didn't go to church on Easter, unless they were sick and unable to go.
And, I can't remember most of those pretty outfits that I wore!
Sketch Crawl:Saturday March 29
For Details, see yesterday's post or
If you are in this area, and are interested, let me know.
Brazos Valley Art League Juried Show
Pick up entries March 28th

Friday, March 21, 2008

Good Friday

Good Friday
8.5" x 11"
sepia ink
If you know an artist: in your area, you might pass this on :
I recently learned about the worldwide Sketch Crawl that is going to happen on Saturday March 29th. For more information, you can google Sketch Crawl, or you can go to . It sounds like a really neat idea.
I'm trying to contact some of the artists in this area, and see if anyone is interested in making a day of it. You might like to get together with other artists in your area and see what you can come up with. Or you can just do it on your own. There is no cost involved.
They are trying to get together a special deal on some moleskin sketchbooks, if you want to do that. But it is not required.
My idea is to get a group together who would like to draw that day. Meet somewhere in the morning, then spread out and draw Bryan/College Station (Calvert? Hearne? Franklin? Robertson/Brazos counties? ) during the day. Then have everyone come back together to share. Spectators might even be interested in buying some of those sketches, or the finished work later.
You could post some of those drawings on the SketchCrawl site, your own site, or whatever you might think of.
I thought that it might be something a bit different to do.
Let me know if your are interested, or if you need more information.
And, if you want to join me, let me know.
(No, we don't have to do it as a group. And, no, we don't have to all go to one place and work together, unless we just want to.) I was thinking that there might be a bit of fun as a group, some fellowship and opportunity for a critique or sharing time, and a bit of power, as well as safety, in numbers. It's not always a good idea to be out drawing or painting alone.
We might even get a little publicity, if we get it together in time.
Anyone else interested?
You can click on to get in touch with me.
I put a link to Sketch Crawl on my sidebar under Art Helpers so you can check it whenever you want.
Good Friday
I did this drawing a while back, thinking of a look of wood carving and German Expressionism. I got my idea from a brown ink drawing that I did while in my room during my first year of college, many years ago. I used sepia ink and an old fashioned dip style drawing pen.
I hope that this is a good Easter season for you and yours. Be mindful of why we are observing this holiday.
There was a time when we searched for weeks, for the perfect Easter outfit, dress, shoes, hat, shoes, socks or stockings, a purse, undies, and even special hankies. We used to get a pastel coat to match our dresses and a sweater, in case it wasn't all that cold that year. Without all the sophisticated weather forecasting that we have now, it was really a dilemma to plan what kind of Easter frock to wear.
Some years, we didn't get the coat or sweater, just the spring frock. And, then, along would come an "Easter Snap", and people would, at the last minute, have to bring out the winter coats and sweaters, which didn't match, or rush from the car to church and back, shivering in a cold wind. We haven't needed those coats or sweaters in quite a few years.
In fact, we haven't needed a pretty dress, hat, or coat in a few years. It hasn't been that cold. (But, it looks like some areas are getting plenty of snow and bad weather this year. Not so here. Fairly warm and very sunny, in these parts.) Some churches are having outdoor services now, and encouraging people to bring blankets to sit on. People just wear jeans or even shorts, to some churches, now. Some do carry out the traditional Easter outfits and church services indoors. A lot of places also have a breakfast following early or sunrise services.
We used to go to the city to shop at Cox's or Jack and Jill for our Easter outfits.
But, at Conitz Dry Goods Store, we also sold hats, dresses, shirts, ties, shoes, ribbon, hankies, lingerie, socks, stockings, and all that people would need for their Easter outfits, and more. The fun part was not so much in helping people find what they needed, but we got to examine all the new merchandise that came in, and get first pick of the new things as we put prices on and organized the items. I could entertain myself for a whole day, looking at the new hats and dresses, and then trying on things in the three way mirror.
Another thing that I loved to do was to decorate the big show windows that faced Highway 6. It was kind of fun to be working in there, and, at the same time, check out the cars that passed through, and wave at some that looked like they might have cute boys or Aggies in them!
By this time, Mama (playing the organ) and the choir at church, were practicing for the big Easter Contata and their special music for Easter Sunday. The Easter ham was bought, along with a roast, and other goodies for a family meal.
My sister and I , and Poochie, our dog, looked forward to an early morning Easter Egg hunt in the park and again in the yard, depending on the weather. On Saturday night, the aroma of ham and pineapple filled the house, along with the smell of vinegar for egg dyeing.
This year will be different. Gas is too high to be traveling anywhere. My last older relative is in a nursing home. One grandson is working. The other is past the Easter Egg hunting as a pre-teen. But he won't turn down some ham or cupcakes and candy! We don't have the big family anymore for a big dinner. But we may have some ham anyway. I hope it is one of those good hams like my mother used to make, with pineapple, and cherries and cloves. I'm not that crazy about ham, but those are good, and my daughter likes to bake them, some years. But, since there are so few of us, we may just have some sliced, cold ham from the grocery store. Tasteless and tough, like salty, greasy cardboard. I would rather have our good old traditional red roast and red gravy.
I lost my liking for pork when I was little and my dad gave my sister and me two of the cutest little black and white pigs that looked like puppies! He built a pen for them out in the country at one of the pastures and we would sometimes go and visit them while he fed cattle or worked on fences. The pigs grew into big black and white "dogs", to us.
Then it got cold and we quit going out to the pasture. We begged to go back and see our pet pigs, but Daddy said it was too cold, or we would make too much noise and make the cows lose weight.
At the table one day, someone mentioned that they were getting tired of all the pork we were having lately. (It could have been me.) I looked at my parents, carefully, when I realized that this was true. We were having sausage, bacon, ham, pork chops, pork roast, an awful lot.
Daddy said he liked it. But I got the sinking feeling about where that pork came from and I pushed my plate back and refused to eat anymore pork.
"Daddy, where is my pig?"
"Daddy, where did this meat come from?"
I got no answer, but I knew. Our pigs were in the freezer at the meat market. We were eating those cute little things. And we never even got to know them very well!
We were at the pasture, climbing on the fence of the empty pig pen, when Daddy asked if we each wanted a calf. We could start our own herd, and save the money for college.
No way was I going to have a calf and know that it was going to be killed and I would be expected to eat it, like the pigs. I insisted that I would stick with my cats. I knew that no one was going to eat those scrawny little things!
My sister gave in and Daddy started her herd.
When time for college came, she had a herd and a bank account. I had lots of cats.
It wasn't until recent years that I could comfortably eat pork. It still isn't my favorite, but I got over thinking of those cute little black and white pigs every time I looked at a piece of ham or a pork chop.
I don't tell that story to my grandsons, though. I just take my piece of ham and act like it is the best thing I have ever eaten.
Hope that you are planning a big weekend with your family and friends.
What a gorgeous sunset and full moon we are having!
I may have to plant something. My great-aunt always said that you were supposed to plant things on Good Friday and by a full moon.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Reciting in English Class

Reciting in English Class
8.5" x 11"

We finally made it. Ninth grade. High school. Many of us were there after only 7 years. And some of us were only 12 years old. In our small school, they only had 10 grades when we started to school. So, when it was decided to add the 12th grade, if our parents approved, we could skip the 4th grade. Some of us were eager to do so and to move on, anxious to get out of school and see what life had in store for us.
Calvert had always had an excellent school and turned out many successful people. We didn't have a lot of extras, but we had most of what we needed in school. Parents, neighbors, and community members made sure that we were in school and did what we were supposed to do.
One thing that helped was that we had the same teachers over a period of years, and those teachers all worked together to make sure that we learned and moved on. We didn't have frills, we didn't have much play, and the teachers seemed to be stern. There wasn't a lot of silliness, although, sometimes, we tried. We did have time to make friendships that lasted from our first days together, all through our lives, until today.
Some of those same teachers taught our parents, in fact. And, they even knew our grandparents and the rest of our families. Actually, everyone knew everyone in our little town.
Mrs. Blasienz taught English from 5th through 8th grade. Then, in 9th grade, Mrs. Brannon took over through 12th grade. Mrs. Pietsch, taught Social Studies from 5th through 8th grade. Mrs. Miller and Miss LaGrone taught typing and bookkeeping. Mr. Hunter taught music from lower grades, then moved us into the tonette in 6th grade. Some students went on into the band, then, and Mr. Hunter was our band director, until Mr. Haney came along. Coach Miller was the coach, as was the high school principal, Mr. Rushing, who also taught math. Mrs. Sullivan was the homemaking teacher. Mr. Attaway was one of the science teachers. Maybe we didn't have such a strong background in math or science because we didn't have the same teachers over a period of time, who were also very passionate about their subjects.
Well, here we were, our "big" class of about 20 students, up on the third floor-the high school. Sitting in the big desks, chairs with side arms. We were armed with our English notebooks filled with lined paper, newly covered English books, a pencil, and a fountain pen. Some of us had our own bottle of Scrips or Shaeffers blue or black ink, but there was a fresh bottle of ink on the corner of the teacher's desk, just in case we needed it.
Refilling the pen took a little time, and, if we played our cards right, we could drag it out to take quite a while! (While the teacher glared at us!) We had to get permission to get up, then explain why we needed to get up. If it was approved, we walked to the desk, unscrewed the top from the ink bottle, and the pen top. The nib of the pen was placed into the small well of ink on the side while, at the same time, slowly opening the little lever on the side of the pen, drawing up ink into the rubber bladder of the pen. The lever was then slowly closed. A Kleenex was used to wipe excess ink from the pen before closing it. After the cap was replaced on the ink, a slow trip back to the desk was made, while carefully straightening skirts, socks, and hair and sliding into the desk. Part of the trip, too, involved looking at what others were doing, and checking out who might be watching.
Of course, we could get a little extra play out of those old pens, and we could ruin our clothes in the process, if the ink bladder broke or if the pen started leaking all over the place. We were so thrilled when they came out with pens with an ink cartridge! Sometimes, those didn't work too well either. They could leak or sometimes the hole wouldn't go through the plastic cartrige and the ink wouldn't come out. But that stopped the trips to the ink bottle. Then, we had to carry around packets of cartriges or put them in our pencil bag or pockets.
For some of us, our days at school were filled with work, friends, and trying to survive teachers and bullies. And, for me, there was also a lot of time spent daydreaming and trying to hide my drawing from the teachers!
After school, there was going home to be with friends, pets, family, going to town to the drugstore or to the stores, listening to the radio, or there might be after school or church activities. Sometimes there were extra lessons in piano or dance, or parties, or listening to records.
Some students had chores to do at home before homework was done. I didn't have that, but, it was sort of whatever I took a notion that I wanted to do.
Some of the older boys had after school or summer jobs, and some of the girls found ways to make money by baby sitting or working at places like the drugstore. There weren't a lot of places to work in our little town. Especially for kids. Those of us, whose families had stores, often were taught to help out there and spent a lot of time in the stores. In our family, we started out helping customers early, sweeping, stringing handkerchiefs, putting tags on merchanidise, and even the youngest were taught to look for shoplifters. (Those were rare, of course, but it kept kids occupied!)
In some families, it was necessary for boys to work and help out. They could buy their own clothes and school materials, that way, not to mention food, and they, then, had their own spending money.
I remember one of my classmates, who worked at a job that seemed to be hard, dirty, work for men. The auction barn was big business in town and big trucks, loaded with noisey cattle, started rolling in for the auction on Thursday night. We could hear the noise all over town as the trucks were unloaded and cattle put into the pens. Dust , or mud on a rainy day, was everywhere. On Friday, the parking area was filled with pick up trucks and men, dressed in western suits, jeans and boots, or overalls and boots, filled the interior. Workers climbed the fences of the pens, prodded the cattle along, as the auctioneer rattled off whatever he was saying. Sometimes, ladies, children, and other community members, went to the cafe at the auction barn for dinner (at noon). The auction required a lot of helpers, and several eager younger men joined the crew for Friday, and sometimes Thursday, too. By Saturday, it was all over and all the activity shifted to Main Street.
I felt sure that our classmate had a difficult time keeping up with school requirements. Tests were often on Friday and there was homework to be done for Monday. Reviews for tests were usually on Thursday. It wasn't too cool to not be ready when Mrs. Brannon, or other teachers, called on you. In fact, it might bring a comment or one of those glares that made you wonder if a trip to the office was about to happen! And that might mean an application of the "board of education" (the paddle in the principals' office), or even worse, a call to your parents. We all held our breath if anyone didn't have their work done or the correct answer on time.
This day, our classmate stood by the south wall of the English room, a wall full of big windows. The big oak tree where we once made frog houses and played "London Bridge" on the playground below, thrust its bare limbs past the windows behind him. The tip of the tall Cedar tree at the edge of the elementary school yard showed just above the window sill. A trainer (plane) from Bryan Air Force Base hummed as it made its way back to the base from its practice run to Connally in Waco.
He stood, looking small, and shy as he read softly from the paper he held. One eyebrow slightly arched. His shoulders were pulled up close to the back of his head. A stray piece of light brown hair fell across his forehead. There was a little point sticking out from the shoulders of his brown and white plaid cotton shirt. He wore a thin leather belt with a large buckle with his khaki pants. Brown boots showed from beneath his pants. Boots, a sign of the man's world that he worked in, and not the look of other young students who wore oxfords or penny loafers to school.
Mrs. Brannon sat at her desk, listening, looking down at her desk. Her black hair was neatly tucked into rolls around her head. Her only makeup was a bit of dark red lipstick. A strand of dime store pearls were around her neck. Her sheer voile dress seemed to float with its wide loose sleeves and sweetheart neckline. There were papers beneath her folded arms. Her English book was on one corner of her desk, the bottle of blue ink was on the other side. Her red grading pencil was still in the desk drawer. She had removed her squared, rimless glasses after roll was checked.
My mind wandered as I looked past my classmate and out the windows. I wanted to be out there and not stuck in this room. I hoped that Mrs. Brannon was paying attention to the reader and not to me. Maybe I wouldn't have to be ready to participate today, if I just acted like I was listening. I also hoped that she wouldn't fuss about anything today. Maybe his reading would take all period and there wouldn't be time for her to criticize him or his work-or the rest of us. And maybe the gigling boys in the front would behave so that she wouldn't have to wave the yardstick over their heads today. Maybe I could draw something, and hide my picture under my paper so she would think that I was taking notes or doing work. Or maybe I could daydream, of boyfriends I hoped I would meet someday, of my dream home, or movie stars, or what my cats and dog were doing, or ice cream and comic books at the drugstore later, what I was missing on the radio, what we would have for an after school snack, or who I would go to play with after school.
I remember teachers talking to those who missed school, insisting that being at school was most important. They didn't seem to go out of their way to be nice to anyone who didn't have all their work done. In my view, they didn't seem to have much sympathy or understanding for anything other than school and their class in particular. That seemed to make school even harder, especially for anyone who had to grow up a little faster. They probably knew more than I understood, since everyone in town seemed to know everything about everybody. And they were trying to encourage all students to get a good education.
Now, I wonder what he read that day. Was it a story? A poem? Were we working on spelling? Or sentence structure? I do know that we didn't have the fill in the blank papers or darken in a little circle that kids get in school today.
"Write everything out," we were told.
"Cutting things short shows laziness and bad manners."
Sadly, our classmate is gone. He died this past week. I'm so glad that we all got to be together at our school reunion last summer. Like most of the boys at school, I never knew him very well, but we all spent so many years together that they were each very special. The girls seemed to stick together as friends, and the boys were close.
I always thought that this enterprising young man, grew up earlier than some of us, and he certainly was able to understand and get along in the world of work before most of us had to encounter the outside world. I'm sure that his experience and willingness to work served him well through his life. He leaves a loving family, his friends, his schoolmates, and many memories. Including mine.
Sometimes, I think it would be nice to sit in those old desks, in the old classroom, with a new package of notebook paper in a notebook, and a pen and a bottle of ink, and just write stories and draw while a classmate reads and the teacher listens. ( Of course, it would have to be without the threat of teasing, grades, being fussed at, or "the board of education"!)

Monday, March 17, 2008

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Ah, 'tis a day for the wearing of the green! And for celebrating Irish heritage. May you not be pinched today, and may all the blessings of the Irish be with you.
I remember one of our many programs at Calvert High School, on stage in the auditorium. This one was for St. Patrick's Day. As usual, most of the town turned out to see anything that went on at school, or elsewhere in town. No tv back then and I doubt that many would stay at home and miss a community gathering and experience, to hear a radio program.
My mother, and other mothers, bought packages of folded green crepe paper at Fink's Variety Store, then sewed costumes of green crepe paper on the sewing machine. That was quite a challenge, to sew on paper with an old treddle sewing machine. And that paper scratched and rattled when we wore them.
I worried about wearing paper in front of people. What if it should tear! And there I would be on stage, in just my panties! Horrors! Mama had to show me how the crepe paper would stretch, but I was still uneasy about it.
We sat in little chairs in rows on the stage.
The piano was in place on the floor at the side of the stage. I can't remember if my mother was playing that year, or if it was Miss Stella, who also taught piano lessons and played for community events. My mother taught piano and played for many community events, and there was a bit of rivalry between the two ladies. Miss Stella played at the Baptist church and my mother played at the Methodist church.
My friend, Kathryn, sang a solo, our little choral group sang, I may have also had a solo as I remember some of the words, and how scared I was.
"Sure, a little bit of heaven fell from out the sky one day, and it landed in the ocean in a spot not far away. And when the angels found it, sure it looked so peaceful there."
I think that JoNell also sang a solo.
Even at my young age, I could picture men in bowler hats and old fashioned suits, in a bar, heavily decorated in dark wood, in New York, gathering to harmonize and sing of the old country. In this case, it was of a diamond shaped island, covered with green shamrocks, and rocks and leprechauns-all surrounded by a beautiful, sparkling blue ocean. (I saw a lot of movies when I was growing up!) Angels in gossamer gowns with glitter, darted and floated above the emerald island.
Our group of dance students tapped away in our crepe paper costumes. I'm sure that there were poems recited and probably something given about Ireland.
I think we were about 5th grade, maybe younger, in 3rd grade. (Our class got to skip the 4th grade, if our parents would let us, so I know it wasn't 4th grade!)
My little sister had not yet started to school but, for some reason, she was put into the program. She was very blonde, dainty, and cute as a little doll, but she was also not going to do little girl things. And she didn't want to talk much, so everyone thought the thing to do was to get her to be involved in things, with other children. And to insist on frilly dresses, dance lessons, and dolls and such things that the rest of us girls were involved in.
So, my mother made a green crepe paper costume for her, too. And she was to be the big finale of the program. We all made it through, and it came time for my sister to get up and do her dance.
She would not get up out of her chair!
People were urging her to do her routine, but she wouldn't budge. They also tried to get me to make her perform. So, I got up from my place in the row of chairs, and tried to pull her out of her chair. She hung on as I pulled, and the chair moved across the stage. One determined little girl just would not get out of that chair.
I begged, I pleaded, I promised a treat, I threatened, but nothing worked.
We reached the edge of the stage by the footlights, with her still holding on to the chair, and her mouth firmly pressed together. And me pulling with all my strength.
The curtain came down, and, only after everyone started to leave, would my sister get out of the chair. She ran to Mama and went home.
I thought that the teachers who arranged the program, my schoolmates who were in the program, and the people in the audience were all mad at me because I couldn't get my sister to do her part. I felt that they would blame us for ruining the program. But, then, maybe I wouldn't have to get up in front of people at the next program! They would just leave us out of the next ones-I hoped.
My sister probably got more attention that day, than any of the rest of us, without having to do a thing.
After we got home, I fussed about being so embarrassed, and, my sister went about doing her routine that she was supposed to have done on the stage. And then she went on to play with her toy John Deere farm implements and to ride her trike.
Whenever we had the various programs at school and in town, in honor of some special day or culture, I (not wanting to have to get up in front of people) would complain that I couldn't be in the program, because I was not in that group, or that I just didn't want to (which never worked!).
And, years later, when Mama was working on genealogy, she said that, on her side of the family, we were English, Scottish, and Irish. I've found a lot on the English side, and several leads to the Scottish side, but I haven't found that Irish connection, so far. Miles and related families were English, Arnett and Vann are probably the Scottish families, but the only families that I think may be Irish were Davis and possibly Day. Haven't found that far back to the old countries, yet.
I have a special pair of ear bobs (no clips, not pierced, but they are the screw on type) that I got for high school graduation, that I have worn for all these years on St. Patrick's Day. They have 4 leaf clovers in them. I got two pair like that, which I still have, although one earring has a clover that has begun to turn brown. I guess that air got in it somehow. Keeps me from getting pinched-especially when I was in college and teaching. I got a pair that is similar, also at graduation, but this pair has a tiny mustard seeds in each piece. Those came with a printed story about the mustard seed.
I don't have a picture of our St. Patrick's Day program. I'll have to do one. I certainly remember that program! There are many memories, many stories, many pictures that we should gather while we can. It seems that in the past couple of weeks, we have lost about 5 schoolmates and friends from long ago. I am so shocked and saddened to hear of their deaths. My thoughts and prayers, and memories, are with them all, and their families and friends.
I have drawn a couple of memories of two of them, so far.
With our thoughts of green today, we can add the green grass that is sprouting outside. (No shamrocks, and few clovers around here.) Bluebonnets are poking their way to the surface and soon should be in full bloom across the fields. Pear trees are blooming.
And, as "spring has sprung", Spring Break has ended here. Kids went back to school today. But, at our house, we seem to have spent Spring Break passing the second round of flu around. This kind started with the stomach flu, then developed into upper respiratory type of things. So far, the oldest grandson has escaped it. Knock on wood!
I've heard that people are getting this flu several times, or it seems to move into upper respiratory problems, ear infections, and the like.
The Brazos Valley Art League Juried Show is still on display at the P.David Romei Art Center in College Station, if you haven't seen it. Pick up day is March 28th, so you still have a little time to view the art work. You can see a couple of the winners online at the BVAL website. I have a link to them in my sidebar under organizations.
Congratulations to Virginia Vaughan and Melanie Nistad on their book sales. You can contact them to order the newest printing. If you would like a copy of "Mechanicsville", you can contact me, and I'll put you in touch with Melanie.
We aren't celebrating St. Patrick's Day much at home. Youngest grandson got up and put on a shirt with green stripes, in anticipation of going to the doctor. I don't think that his mother was able to get an appointment, although she called Friday and was told to bring him in today if he wasn't better by Monday. I put on a shirt that has crayons and paper clips on it, and that has green in it. But, we don't have green beer, green streams or rivers, no parade, etc. I think that some pubs or beer joints might be celebrating with their own green beer, or whatever they do. We don't even have Irish songs or harmonies going on in our house. Maybe I'll have to croak out what I can remember of "Sure a little bit of heaven", just for the occasion, while we get ready for supper tonight.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Spring Break! Yea!

Virginia Field Park
Calvert, Texas
Snow in Calvert, Texas
Hulda Keeling, Louise Conitz, Augusta Meier ,
snowman and Prince
with 2 unidentified little girls
(the girls look like my sister and me, but this was long before we were born!)
in front of Emil Conitz Sr.'s house
Guynes home in background
(old family photo)
It's Spring Break here. Yea! (And it started out different from any time that I remember!)
But, wait a minute. I really don't have anything to shout about. It doesn't really affect me anymore. I no longer have to worry about needing a week to catch up on sleep or to recover from the flu, or even to catch up on paperwork from school-or laundry and housecleaning.
The week will be the same, except that the young grandson is home from school all week. The oldest is now involved in the world of work. He just has his usual days off. He will probably want to rest!
Nothing more planned than we usually do on a weekend or holiday-stay at home, watch tv, do laundry,sleep late, kids play video games, and the young one might draw. Maybe we will go for a walk, if it doesn't rain or get cold.
I only remember one time that we ever went anywhere for Spring Break. We took my aunt down to the middle Texas Gulf Coast (Port Lavaca) for a short trip, then returned via the beach route. That was the closest I ever got to seeing what they talk about in movies and news stories. Lots of lines of cars of kids, cruising the beach in a couple of popular spots. But there was lots of open beach where there was no one, between Surf Side at Freeport and Galveston.
By then, of course, I was too old to be out running around in a bathing suit, chasing boys, dancing and drinking!
We didn't do anything, just drove all day and into the night to hurry and get home! I was not going to drive. I was going to sit back and enjoy my time off from school while my daughter drove. But, of course, that didn't happen and she slept while I drove the whole time! I needed to rest from my vacation, such as it was! Houston had changed so much since the time that I lived in that area and drove that highway to home almost every weekend, that I felt lost until I got about 30 miles from home! It was nerve-wracking, especially in the dark and in a lot of construction on the highway. Couldn't recognize anything. What had been open land was big houses, built close together, and enclosed with high wooden fences.
Spring Break was also a time to get final preparations finished for the spring art shows for students and for adults in this area. So, sometimes, I might be painting, framing, putting mats on, picking entries, and that sort of thing.
I kind of miss that activity. But not all the work and lack of help ,or interest. The No Pass/No Play rule for schools in Texas just about killed activities for most of my students. I went from showing their work in several car loads, with excitement and enthusiasm, pride, etc. to "who cares anyway", and maybe 3 or 4 half-hearted entries, with maybe a couple that cared. Kids would quit school because they couldn't participate in things they cared about, and felt that they were doing their best already, so it was hopeless to them. Well, I won't get on my soapbox about "the rule" at this time.
I never heard of Spring Break until my later years of teaching. We had an Easter holiday, sometimes for as long as two days, when I was in school! We had Lincoln's birthday, George Washington's birthday, and such holidays, but not a holiday just to have a break. Holidays had to be to observe something. We heard of colleges, mostly large ones up north, having a break. I thought that was just to get away from the cold weather and snow, and that soon turned into a wild party time. As in the movies.
Of course, we would have loved to have a week off, in college, to party. As it was, we just went home for Easter. And we wondered why we couldn't, somehow, manage to get a week off as some other schools did.
We never dreamed that such a thing was possible in high school. Of course, we would have liked to have had an additional week off, but, for a class that didn't even get to have a prom, a senior trip or a senior play, all we could do is to fume and complain about not getting to do things that students in other schools did. We were expected to go to school, unless we were sick, or we were observing a special historical day. We did have a holiday at Christmas, and a day or two at Thanksgiving. That was enough.
If it got too cold, we might have a day or two off, as the time that we had a pretty big snow. But that was rare. We just bundled up, took quilts, blankets, or whatever to school, and suffered through a cold day. Our school had 3 floors. The boiler to heat the school was in the basement, where the cafeteria, restrooms, and elementary grades were located. The janitor had the job of keeping that boiler going. (There was no air conditoning for hot weather. Not even a fan!)
Middle school , the auditorium, and the offices were on the second floor. And high school and the library were on the third floor.
People on the first floor were too hot, so they opened the windows. People on the second floor were cold and those on the third floor were freezing!
On those really cold days, we were allowed to wear boy's pants to school, overalls, or whatever would keep us warm. I would wear a set of long underwear from Grandpa's dry goods store, and my Daddy's old A&M uniform, which was wool. I wore thick socks and Daddy's cowboy boots, knitted gloves, a long wool scarf around my neck, and my coat. Then I took a quilt and wrapped up in that in my desk. (I thought I was hot stuff in Daddy's Aggie uniform. Especially since girls were not allowed to go there! And it was warm, too!)
Sometimes, we were allowed to sit together when it was that cold, and share blankets and quilts.
How wonderful it was to have extra warmth from bodies and two or three quilts on top of us!
We didn't get much work done, I guess, but we were there!
Now, I look back and think about the teachers. They couldn't huddle under a blanket, or wear anything other than their dresses and suits. I'll bet they were glad when school was out and they could go home and get warm!
What was really exciting about this year is that we had real snow here on Friday morning, as everyone rushed off to the last day of school and work before Spring Break. I don't think that has ever happened before!
Of course, it was too warm to stick, but it was there long enough to play in and get some pictures. Covered roof tops, grass, etc., but didn't accumulate in the streets. There were even some big flakes that were really coming down as my crew started off for work and school.
The weatherman had first predicted a possiblity of a few flakes, but that was dropped during the night. I stayed up all night, watching the radar, when I started seeing a little pink strip on the radar, heading toward us, but still 90 miles away. At one point, it looked like it was going to the west and south of us, but, no. There was a tiny blip of pink at the edge of the screen. That soon became a wide band of pin, with white behind it.
About 5 a.m., I gave up as there was only a little light rain outside, and went to bed. But, in an hour, the youngest grandson came into my room. "Wake up, Grandma! It's snowing outside!" I went to the front door and, sure enough, it was all white outside, with big flakes fluttering around. So much for getting any sleep!
That certainly was a memorable event to start our Spring Break!
We had been wishing for snow, for so long! I guess wishes do sometimes come true! (It didn't get the kids out of school early, though!)
I thought that you might enjoy some snow pictures. Just to remember when we have had snow. These are all old. The camera needed new batteries, so we didn't get any pictures this time. There are lots on the KBTX tv website, though. My sister got some good ones in Calvert, but we couldn't upload those to the computer.

A.E. Conitz Home
Calvert, Texas
1940s snow

Grandma's Side Yard
1940s snow

Browning Street Snow

Happy Spring Break!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Mechanicsville, Tennessee

(picture courtesy of the author)
Mechanicsville by Melanie Garrett Nistad
Cannon County, Tennessee
This is the cover of a book that I had mentioned in a previous post. If you enjoy reading about life in the United States, families, small towns, history, or whatever interests you might have, you will enjoy this book.
I've never been to that area, but I could relate to the stories. We had some of the same things in my home area of Texas, when I was growing up.
The book includes articles about places like the Short Mountain Methodist Church, the Switchboard House (we had one of those at home, but we called it the telephone office) various stores, events, and families. There are lots of pictures and even maps to tell the history of the area.
"Miss Mary's Column", from the local newspaper there, sprinkled through the book, helped to tell the story. Miss Mary Reams wrote of her hometown for the local newspaper, recording much about life and people of that area.
I found one of her clippings, which is also in the book, among things that had belonged to my grandmother. That gave me a lot of information to start out with in searching for family history. I only knew that my grandmother's last name was Arnett, and she had told me that her father was "a hillbilly doctor in Tennessee". And that's all I knew-until I found that clipping of "Miss Mary's Column" a few years ago. The column described him, told where he lived, gave his children, told how he came to the area, etc. It gave almost everything, except his name, when he died and where he is buried!
Through the internet, I got some genealogical information, and Melanie, the author of the book, contacted me with pictures of Dr. Arnett's home (which her family owns), a deed that gave the disposition of his property and named his children, and information on his church membership-Short Mountain Methodist Church. In her book, the news column is dated in 1950, something that I had not known, or the name of the newspaper. She has been a big help to me in finding out more about my family.
We still haven't found his death and burial information. Wouldn't you know that, the year that the deed was made with his property information on it, 1913, is the year that Tennessee didn't keep death records! Possibly, his tombstone is missing, as it hasn't been found, either.
Of course, the book was extra special to me as it contains information and pictures of my families, the Arnetts and the Meltons. There is a picture of the house and part of Dr. Arnett's family on the cover. The house turned out to be a log cabin beneath board additions. There are lots of pictures of it and the restoration work, in the book.
Many other families are included besides those who are related to me.
If you would like a copy of this book, send me an e-mail and I will forward it to the author.
She advised me that the book is about sold out, but she can order more. You can pre-order for a waiting list , if you would like a copy. So, let me know if you want one. Just click on the Contact link in my sidebar .
The book, in the first printing, was $25 plus shipping.
Primary elections are over in Texas. News cameras and anchors packed up and left for the next big event. Candidates have gone their way and are making news in other places.
In our house, we decided that we must have cancelled each other out! We all voted for different people. My daughter and grandson went back at night for the "Texas Two Step", the Democratic caucus. I didn't hear of anything in the evening for the Republicans. While the news is reporting long lines and big turnouts, my daughter said there were only 20-25 people who showed up where she was. She and her side were outnumbered. Looks like Obama won here, with all the college kids, but not by much, while Hillary won the state. McCain also won here, but Huckabee was close. There were a good many votes for people who are no longer running, which probably didn't help those who were still in the race.
I hated to see Huckabee's speech last night, where he pulled out of the race for president. I didn't support him, but, like most of the candidates, each one did have some good things to offer. And the rest of the primaries on the Republican side, are going to be less exciting, without the competition. We sat up late to watch the returns on tv. It was fascinating as it was so close. It was even tied, exactly, in one county.
Congratulations to Calvert native, Mary Helen Bonilla Berlanga, now of Corpus Christi, who won her race for the State Board of Education.
Take a look at Virginia Vaughan's blog. There is a link to her in my sidebar. She has some of the layout for her book, "Last Year On The Farm", on her blog today.
Please sign my Guest Book at the bottom of the page, if you haven't already done so. Thanks for reading and sharing! Please let me know if you see something of interest.