Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Secrets

Saturday Secrets
pencil sketch
10" x 15"

Virginia Field Park Calvert, Texas

Saturday morning. A quick breakfast of Rice Krispies, a banana, and fresh squeezed orange juice, or, my favorite, Pablum. Maybe toast, biscuits, bacon, eggs, ham, french toast, doughnuts, or whatever Mama fixed that day. Playing with the cats for a little while, arranging my dolls on my bed, dressing in girls bluejeans or shorts, then draping myself over the chair with the nailheads around the edges, to listen to "Buster Brown", "Jack Armstrong" and "Sky King" on the radio.

I rolled my bike that Daddy had bought from Jane, and I painted with a 10 cent can of enamel from Fink's Variety Store, out from the garage out back and into the front yard. "I'm going to the library," I shouted over my shoulder as I rolled the bike down the little hill in our front yard to the street. I rode around the streets outside the park to avoid the sand in the road inside the park, and on to the little library that had once been a club house for women. It was just like it had always been, from my grandmother's day.

I looked through the books for what seemed like hours and picked out a stack of books to take home for the week. I probably would never read all those books, but I had good intentions. During the school year, I also had all those books from school, plus those I checked out of the school library, and books that I had of my own to read.

I loaded my books into the basket of my bike and thought of how I would curl up in a chair, in front of the stove in the living room, in winter, or by a window in hot weather and read so many books. And I would also buy some comic books and movie magazines from the drugstore to read. And, I would spread out on the floor to read the funny papers from the newspaper and magazines. A lot of reading, but I think I did more dreaming than actual reading.

I rode up the gentle hill toward home. I pedaled my bike up the street, avoiding gravel on the side, and between the two large white rocks at the entrance to the park. I pushed my bike over the hard walk up to the old fashioned bandstand and leaned it against the steps while I walked over to the birdbath/drinking fountain for a cold drink of water. I never was sure it it was a birdbath, although that's what it looked like to me. I guess we humans had to share it with the birds! It did have steps on the sides for short people to stand on, and a couple of metal drinking faucets, so it would seem to be for people to drink from. But it was concrete and curved to hold water, which would have served the birds, too.

I looked into the large structure to see if anybody was there to talk to and play with, yet. No one was there, so I got on my bike and pedaled out the east side over the walk, past the clay tennis court and the huge glider swing. I walked my bike carefully as I crossed the drive way that surrounded the park. Spots of sand made walking difficult and could turn a car that was going too fast, completely around.

I passed Edie's house and the empty lots between us, and pushed the bike up the hill to my house, and left the bike on the small front porch. With my books parked safely on top of the chest of drawers, I still had a long time before dinner when Daddy would come home from the store to eat. I could have read one of those books, I guess, but, no. This was Saturday. No school! Time for friends, relaxing, and a good shoot-em-up at the Eloia followed by a trip to Taliaferro's Drug Store for an ice cream cone or Coke and reading the latest movie magazines and funny books.

Mama was busy in the kitchen, and I walked back over to the park. This was a good place to be with friends. Not so much fun, alone. It was kind of big, spooky, and overwhelming, for a kid alone. No telling what might be there. A spider, a snake, a monster or a ghost! Not to mention those weird horney toads and the big red ants that had some good sized beds in certain places in the park. We never thought that there could be anyone lurking in the park who might harm us.

"Are you going to the show this afternoon?" I met a friend from school inside the bandstand. Light reflected off the blue gray floor as I sat down on a bench beside her.

"I don't know. Is anyone else going?" She asked.

"Probably so, but I haven't talked to anyone. Do you know what's on?"

"I don't know. It's in the paper that they send out at the post office."

"Yeah, I know that. But I just wondered."

" Think there'll be any cute boys there? Or will it just be the dumb old boys from school?"

" You know that all the cute boys are somewhere else!" I laughed.

"Let's save our money and go on the bus to the Chatmas, and to Waco!"

"Okay. Think we can go?" I asked, thinking of our shopping trips to other places, but always with adults.

"Sure! I do it all the time!"

It was hard to believe, but other kids, all of whom were older than I was, did take the bus and go to Hearne or Bryan or Waco, to shop, eat, and go to a movie.

"Well, I have to go home and wash my hair before I can go to the show," I said. "And Daddy is going to be home for dinner soon."

"I've got to wash my hair, too." She walked to the edge of the wooden floor and down the steps. "I'll see you later at the show. I don't think that Tim Holt is on today. It may even be Tarzan, or the Three Stooges. Or, I think I saw that they are going to have Whip Wilson one Saturday."

We both doubled up with laughter. "Whip Wilson!" (That's what we called one of our algebra teachers/coaches. He seemed to be quick on the draw with his paddle for misbehaving kids. )

"Just so it isn't Victor Mature. Kathryn said he looks like someone just threw a bucket of slop in his face, and he does!"

Daddy's little coupe chugged and clattered past the park and I ran home to eat dinner.

The park was a nice place to spend time with friends. The bandstand, with its sturdy enameled floor. was a good place to get out of the sun or weather, away from the eyes of grownups, where secrets, hopes, and dreams could be shared. Towering Crepe Myrtles all around the sides of the park and beds filled with flowers, assured some privacy from passing cars, as well as neighbors. A basketball hoop on one of the posts provided a place for the boys to practice before we had a gym, or for the kids to come and try their skill at playing basketball, if they could find a basketball. The floor made a good roller rink and a place to settle in and play games like jacks. Benches provided a place for an audience where we could practice acting, singing, and dancing, or they might become seats in an airplane, a boat, a train, or whatever object we could imagine. The sides of the bandstand made a good place to hide from pirates or the bad guys while we played with our toy guns. Some were even brave enough to venture a little way under the bandstand to play house, complete with mudpies.

Last weekend was another Saturday, many years later. My sister and I descended on the park, not with our cap pistols or toy dishes, or jacks, or bikes, but with folding chairs, sketchbooks, and pens and pencils, and a cold drink. She picked a spot in the bandstand overlooking the west entrance, while I went to the opposite side, picked a bench to settle on , and looked out toward the school and our old neighborhood, the merry-go-round, and one of the two remaining small pavillions on the norhtheast corner.

After beginning our day with a kolache and a visit with Jody at Zamykal Kolaches, we spent the morning in the park, sketching the place where we spent a lot of time playing, when we were growing up. It was a hot day, but the bandstand provided us with a lot of shade, and there was a little breeze to cool us off.

I worked in pencil on a watercolor pad, while my sister used her sketchbook and a pen. I had thoughts of, at some time, painting my drawing later. I also chose to take some photos of where we were working. All the while, I was thinking of the things that we used to do in the park, and how it is still so much the same. A real comfort as so many people love that park, and have over the years. Our great-grandfather came over from Prussia the year before the park and the town became official.

I thought of the friends we knew and the events that took place in the park and I missed the cold water in the fountain, the great Crepe Myrtles around the park, the baseball field where almost nightly summer ball games were held, (and, in between, we brought out our bats and balls and had games of our own), the children's swings, the big white glider and the bench made from a plank that had been placed between two oak trees, years ago, the clay tennis court, the road around the park, and my sister noticed that even the concrete ping pong table is gone. It's still a nice place with so much potential.

As we sketched, two young girls came into the bandstand to exercise and enjoy each other's company. They laughed, giggled, and talked softly, ran up and down the steps a few times, then drank bottled water. (I thought how handy the drinking fountain would have been for them! After all, people come from cities just to drink some of that good Calvert water!) They sat on the benches, talking softly and I thought of young girls sharing their time and their secrets, over many years, there in the park. Eventually, they asked if I was through sketching the merry-go-round, and, when I told them I was, they wandered over to the playground area where they took a few spins around on the merry-go-round. Returning to the bandstand, they sat on benches opposite each other, to talk.

"Aha! There's some pictures!" I thought. Kids talking on a Saturday in the park, playing on the merry-go-round, and the way that it used to be. Saturdays used to seem so long and we did so much, with no rush. I placed the girls in my sketch, looking at them, but used the photo above to finish the placement of things like posts and dividers. I added in the baseball field, concession stand, and the little road around the park in the background. I thought of styles of the past and gave my girls pigtails and a pony tail.

I couldn't help but wonder what they were talking about. Was it anything like the conversations that we had? How much have the thoughts and feelings of the young girls changed from my grandmother's day to now?

I do suspect that they were not talking about going to the Saturday afternoon picture show at the Eloia, since it is not operatong. And I do know that it was refreshing to see such nice, respectful young ladies. I don't know who they are, but it gave me a little scarey thought for a story. They walked away toward the cemetery across the street. Now there's an idea for a story. I think I have watched ghost programs with my daughter, too much!

I have more pictures that I took during our last Saturday sketch crawl to share, and some more sketches that I have been doing.


Speaking of Calvert, they are looking forward to the big Victorian Tea and Gala with a Street Fair Octobler 4. Jody Powers told me that they are still looking for vendors for the street fair. They have a lot of things lined up, but they need more vendors. So, if you like to sell your wares that can be considered Victorian , look at their website for more information, or contact Jody at Zamykal Kolache Shop in Calvert. If you make aprons, quilts, make jewelry, paint, demonstrate how to do something, have a civic group that would like to participate, or whatever it is that you do, get in touch with her. I have a link to her shop in my sidebar, or, you could just call her. There is also an online application. I do believe that they want everyone to dress in Victorian attire. It isn't require of people attending, but it is encouraged, if you would like to dress up.


Did you see "On The Road" on KBTX tv Thursday? If not, you can go to their website and take a look at the video. They reported on the news from Robertson County as part of their "On The Road" weekly series. They had to pack up early, though, because rain with thunder and lightning were coming. It was an interesting segment.

If you missed it, you can go to the KBTX website and, on the right, there is a place to click to see "On The Road" for the previous weeks. The segment on Robertson County, included quite a bit about Calvert. They don't have the whole program online, but do show Hammond House, Jody in costume showing fan ettiquette, and taught one of the anchors how to waltz, the old Calvert Hotel, the cemetery, and some of the stores downtown. I wish they would have left in the part where Jody is in her shop, talking and singing.

One thing that was not correct was that children have never lived in the Calvert Hotel. The Dirr family, who originally owned the hotel, had children and grandchildren living there. I practically lived there, myself when my cousins were at their grandmother's hotel. That made such a great place to play!

Another thing that I noticed was that the front of the buildings on Main Street were actually the back, by the railroad. They did load freight from the trains through there and had entrances at the back, but the fronts were where they are now, on Main Street. I have pictures from the early days, and there are the Sanford Fire Insurance Maps. Main Street once had cisterns and water wells in the middle, but the street was very wide allowing big wagons with teams to turn around easily. There was also another track that ran behind the buildings on the west side of the street, and freight was loaded from there. When I was young, there were still tracks visible in the street where little spurs were built on the side streets to busy stores . There were also tracks by the Fagan house. I was told those were trolley tracks. Calvert had a trolley while Dallas and Ft. Worth were not much more than an Army outpost.

Calvert was said to have been almost wiped out by the Yellow Fever Epidemic. About half the population died and left a population of 2,5oo, which is what it was still, all the years that I was growing up. They could never know how many died exactly because people were being buried day and night. I'm sure that they missed where some people were actually buried. But, they did make sure to bury people with the fever at an angle so that no one would ever try to dig them up and release whatever caused the epidemic into the atmosphere to make more people sick. They didn't know what caused it. Even doctors died. There probably is some record from the City Cemetery of most of the people in that one cemetery. But, apparently, records were not kept for some other burial places.

My great-grandfather had a "Chinaman" working for him in his cobbler shop. The man was among those who died. None of my family caught it, though. What a scarey time that was!


Tonight is the Scottish Invasion with events in Dallas Ft. Worth, and Houston, that I know of.


We lost another of our schoolmates this week. Linda was the prettiest little girl, and the prettiest and sweetest lady when she grew up! She worked so hard in her chosen career and was devoted to her family. It was so nice to talk to her and to have her fix my hair. I know that she is going to be greatly missed.

Here is a sketch of an angel for Linda. I tried it in watercolors, but I'm not happy with it. Wrong kind of paper, I think. I'll have to try it again.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Saturday Sketching in Calvert

Here are some more pictures of our sketching outing in Calvert recently. We plan to go out again on Saturday.
The top photo is my pencil sketch of the old bank building, more recently Dr. Cain's dentist office, and now is being made into a place that serves chocolate.
The second photo shows the building as it looks now, and the sidewalk. Not quite the angle where I was looking.
The third photo shows the view from where I was sitting to draw. Lots of shade at that time of day. Something we were looking for on a hot day-a shadey place to sit while we sketched.
The bottom photo shows Barbara sketching. This is where we elected to sit, in the shade.
What once was Brannon's shoe shop is directly behind her. I still don't remember what was in the other building on the north corner. Through the windows and across the street, you can see the long building on the side street that was once the Post Office and Wood's Barber Shop.
If you remember what was in the building beside Brannon's Shoe Shop, I would love to know. One of those things that can keep you awake nights!
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Saturday July 26
Scottish Invasion
If anyone in this area is interested in joining in the Scottish Invasion, let me know.
Basically, people who are interested in Scottish/Celtic heritage, etc., can wear their kilts and tartans, if they want, and meet at a restaurant for food, fellowship, maybe some music and fun, on that evening. Kilts and tartans are not required, but, if people have them, that's great!
They are being held in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, and in Houston, that I know of. So, hopefully, we can do something here.
Sounds like fun, to me.
What they do is to go into a selected restaurant or pub, in order to call attention to Scottish/Celtic heritage and culture.
Let me know if you would be interested.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

An Old Fashioned Girl

An Old Fashioned Girl
Calvert, Texas
A couple of weeks ago, Barbara and I were in Calvert during the weekend to do a little sketching on Saturday morning. We started out the morning with a kolache at Zamykal Kolache Shop on Main Street. The owner, Jody, was getting ready to leave to take part in the Polskie Dzien (Polish Days) celebration in Bremond. She stopped long enough for me to take some photos of her, all dressed up in one of the Victorian style creations that she loves to make.
Jody appreciates the Victorian atmosphere of Calvert, and she loves to sew and make her own styles of the past.
For this occasion, she wore a long sleeved white blouse with a sky blue long skirt, complete with bustle. Her shoes were high top, lace-up beige made of soft leather and she carried a white lace-trimmed parasol. To complete her outfit, she wore a flat, decorated straw hat, and carried a covered wicker basket.
When you visit Jody's shop, you will see some of her other Victorian creations on display. The photo above shows Jody among some of her "girls", mannequins dressed in some of the clothes she has made.
Doesn't a Sunday afternoon stroll around the park, with a parasol, while a band plays in the bandstand, sound like a nice way to spend an afternoon. Maybe someone selling some ice cream and lemonade. Children running around the park grounds, and people swinging in the old fashioned gliders that they used to have in Virginia Field Park.
Jody and others are looking forward to the big Victorian Gala and Tea in Calvert October 4th. You can find out more about it by looking in my sidebar under Events. There is also a bit about it in the magazine "Tea In Texas".
And, thinking of some nice music for a Sunday afternoon, here are a couple of links that you might enjoy.
"The Lost Rose" by Michael Flatley on flute
"Whisptering Winds" by Michael Flatley on flute
Speaking of men playing flutes, I was impressed with the clips on Fox News of Tony Snow playing a flute and other instruments as part of a band. I thought that was so neat. He was really good. I had not known that he played flute, or even that he played in a band. Such a talented man!
This was interesting. If you just want to learn, or if you need some information to refresh what you once did. There are others on YouTube that show how to play flute.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dancing Spirits

Dancing Spirits
6.5" x 10"
Mixed Media
watercolors and toner
There is sad news today as we learn of the deaths of Dr. Michael DeBakey and Tony Snow. I have felt so priviledged to have been able to hear these men speak.
Dr. DeBakey
I heard Dr. DeBakey speak at a Lions Club sponsored function many years ago. At the time, I was teaching art, but my heart was really in nursing. So, I was particularly eager to hear him. Nursing had not worked out for me, but his talk brought an interest in medical illustration. I couldn't do that, either. I didn't think I was good enough at drawing realistically, for one thing. But, the main thing was that I had children to support and care for, so going back to school was not an option. It would have, most likely, paid a lot more than teaching, though.
I was upstairs in an auditorium when Dr. DeBakey spoke to the community. He brought slides with him to illustrate his fairly new, at that time, heart surgery. I was really impressed with his intelligence and humor, and his energy.
As he showed the first cut, many people felt sick or faint, and had to leave, as he drew the scalpel across skin and a trickle of blood followed.
"Ooops!" he said. That one wasn't supposed to be in there. He usually left that one out because a lot of people would faint when they saw the cut and the blood. That one was for his medical students. He said that some of them fainted, too.
Now, I'm one that has always fainted when someone just showed me a needle, so I was surprised that I wasn't among the first casualties! At least half the audience had to leave. I thought that I was doing really well.
After that first slide, I watched, fascinated, as he explained what was going on through heart surgery. It did get a little warm in there, though, when he started suturing the incision . But, he made it funny, saying that he learned to sew from his mother-"a simple over and under stitch". And that's the stitch he used in surgery. I could just picture him, as a little boy, sitting there, at his mother's feet, learning to sew.
I taught my students things like creative stitchery, and, usually, the boys caught on and did a better job than the girls. So, I was not surprised.
He told something of his schedule, saying that he got up at 4 a.m. every morning, took walks, ate little, and went to bed fairly early. I've heard a lot of people, artists, writers, etc., who say that they get up at 4 a.m. It's a quiet time, with no phones or interruptions, when they can work or just think, and enjoy the solitude.
The schedule seems to have worked for him as DeBakey died at age 99.
I thought he was a really amazing man. I might have liked to have been a student under him, or just talked to him. He certainly lived a long and productive life and has left so much to help mankind.
Tony Snow
I first noticed Tony Snow when he was a news anchor on tv. He was distinctive, with silver hair that seemed to match his last name of Snow. He had a distinctive voice, too, a little on the raspy side, I thought. But he was someone who stood out from the other newscasters.
Later, when we learned that he had colon cancer, I wanted to ask him about it, and, at the same time, felt concern for him. When he returned to broadcasting, not only was his hair white, but his skin looked very white-almost like his hair. I thought it must be from the surgery and chemo.
Soon, he was looking better, had some color, but I thought that might be makeup.
And, then, we heard that he was replacing the very bland Scott Mclellan (I probably spelled that wrong!) as White House Press Secretary. "Good for him!" I thought. "He should certainly be better with reporters than his predecesser was, since he was one of them." And, he was.
I was a little concerned that he, sometimes, seemed to be going over to the administration's side on some issues, but that was understandable since this was his job. It wasn't always comfortable from an observeror's standpoint, or, possibly, from the reporters position, either.
And, then, one day, they announced that Tony Snow was coming to the George Bush Library. I just had to have tickets to that. So, my daughter got tickets for my grandson and me to go.
I thought that I might have a bit of a problem because, by this time, my knees were bad and I was having to walk with a cane and had trouble getting up and down from chairs, or sitting too long, or walking very much gave me trouble. But the newest problem was my eye with Macular Degeneration and cataracts in both eyes. I wasn't seeing very well. But I was determined to be there, even if all I could do was listen, and if I had to ask everyone around me to help me up out of the chair!
The night of the event came and we walked across the plaza with the piece of the Berlin Wall and the sculpted horses jumping over it, to the auditorium. Protestors were off to one side of the building, with poster board signs that I couldn't read, of course.
" College kids," I thought. "They should have seen the days of the Hippies!" But I was glad that they weren't as bad as back in those days.
We entered the lobby with our tickets, and found that the main auditorium was full. We were ushered into a smaller auditorium, an annex, where there was a large screen in front of the room. We picked a spot about the middle of the auditorium, on the aisle, and sat down. An usher soon moved us and directed me to sit against the wall. I knew that I wouldn't be able to see a thing there, and what if I should have to get up and leave! I told him that I couldn't see at all out of one eye, and that I really needed to be on the aisle so I could see. And also that I had bad knees. He kind of rolled his eyes, and said I could stay there, but moved my grandson to the next row behind me, next to the wall, and filled the row beside me with a family. At least my grandson is tall and could see over people in front of him.
I talked briefly to the people sitting beside me. A family who had come from the Beaumont area, to Austin, and on to College Station, just to hear Tony Snow. As the evening progressed, I learned that people had come from all over to hear Snow. So many, in fact, that they filled the annex auditorium, and the dining hall. Certainly an overflow crowd.
I wondered about Snow's hair. He had been on tv earlier, and his hair looked gray instead of white. In fact, each time I saw him on tv, his hair was a little darker, and his skin had more color.
George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) and Snow came into the auditorium where we were and told us of the overflow crowd. They would be speaking in the other auditorium and we would watch on the big screen. However, when it was over, they would come in and answer questions.
Actually, it worked out better by seeing them on the big screen, for me, at least. I could see them so much better than the smaller figures that they really were, in front of the auditorium.
Following a very lively and interesting talk, Snow answered questions, then Bush and Snow came into our auditorium. They were on a slightly raised stage. Four Secret Service men stood in front of them. I hardly noticed the men, at first.
As the speakers answered questions, I did my usual thing in trying to see better. I leaned out into the aisle and closed my bad eye and blinked with the good eye, trying to clear up the image. Since no one was walking up the aisle, I stretched my leg into the aisle a little and leaned on my cane.
Snow talked , enthusiastically, about the wonderful job he had, and his excitement was contagious. He spoke of many things in history that he had so much knowledge of, and brought those things to life.
"His hair is brown!" I thought! "And his skin is tanned! He looks really healthy and good! Maybe he is well, now. Or could it be dye and makeup. Could be the lights. But he does look younger and like he feels good."
I suddenly looked at the Secret Service men, glaring at the audience.
"Oh, dear! I wonder if they can see me!" I told myself. "I had better stop this. No telling what they think I am up to, winking at Tony Snow and the president!" I could picture those Secret Service men, rushing up the aisle to throw me onto the floor, thinking I was up to no-telling-what!
I pulled my leg back under the chair in front of me and kept both eyes open as I looked at the speakers. "Behave yourself!" I thought. I'm sure that they couldn't see me at all, but, if they did, I'm sure they wondered why that old lady was winking at the president and Tony Snow!
After the speech, we were not allowed to leave through the front door, but were ushered out a side door. We were told that there were protestors and they wanted us to be able to get to our cars easily. I couldn't walk too fast, so I was a little concerned that I wouldn't be able to get to my car fast enough. Maybe I should stay in the building until the protestors left. My daughter was waiting to pick us up, so I was relieved to see the car nearby.
As soon as almost everyone had cleared the sidewalk, the protestors swarmed over to the sidewalk where people had been leaving. It was a funny sight. I remember young people, waving posterboards and laughing. They seemed to be having a good time. Guess they thought they would be on tv. And one person was pulling something that looked like a children's wagon, with slats on the sides, and Christmas lights on it. We thought they were harmless and must not have homework or a date that night. But I was relieved to get in the car and out of the crowded parking area.
It had been good to see that Tony Snow looked so much better in person, and to be able to hear some of his life and experiences, as well as all the history that he shared.
It was only a day or two later when we heard the announcement that Snow's cancer had returned and he was scheduled for surgery and more treatment. I was stunned. He had looked so well and full of life when he was here.
After he returned to tv, and said that he was going to be a news anchor again, his skin and hair looked gray on tv. I hoped that he would be alright. He seemed to be one person who would certainly beat the illness with all his exuberance and love for life and work. I truly thought that he would triumph and go on to live a long life.
Sadly, the news today is that he died. I had not heard that he was not doing well, so it was quite a shock.
While he did live a full life, in his short 53 years, doing so much more and having so much more knowledge than most of us are priviledged to, he had so much potential to do more.
We've lost two amazing men, but they have left us with so much.
The small painting above, "Dancing Spirits", was created by first using a watercolor wash of yellow over the paper. Then I used rubber cement to mask the light design in the center. A final wash of reds and oranges was placed over the paper. After the watercolor was dry, I removed the rubber cement to leave the design with the warm background.
I thought that there must be a good use for all that used copy machine toner that everyone was throwing away, so I decided to paint with it. It didn't mix with water, at all. But I was able to mix it with acrylic gloss medium and varnish and got something that had a wonderful consistency and a rich black color to it. I mixed it in small jars, then used a straw and a popsicle stick to pick up the "paint" and drip and smear it on the paper. Since I don't like to get my hands dirty, I was very careful not to get it on me, just on the paper. And it only took a small amount to get a rich black.
Later, I was told that the toner is very toxic, could cause cancer, and to not get it on me. But, I couldn't help but wonder about the safety factor when so many teachers and office workers, were changing toner cartriges and got that powder all over themselves, the machines, and their surroundings. It was always a mess, and no telling how much of the powder we inhaled while trying to put new toner in.
So, you might not want to try this idea!
I enjoyed my idea as I thought I was recycling, for one thing, and also I liked to paint with unlikely things, like berries. I moved on to use more watercolors and acrylics and natural materials, however, and didn't continue my experiement. I only did a few paintings with the toner as my black paint.
In this painting, as the drips took shape, they seemed to be like figures in a circle. At that time, I had learned of the death of a former student, and thought of her, being brought into a circle of other spirits, with a dance of joy and sharing.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Morning Walk Through The Village

Morning Walk Through The Village
8.5" x 11"
TV has not been very good this summer. Some evenings, especially, barren. Late night talk shows-reruns. Hosts off on vacation. Jokes might have been funny the first time, but after that, unless I missed the whole show, and there was an interesting star on like William Shatner, I don't care to watch. Even the news is often the same thing, or even a rerun, over and over. Or, if they have too much of one thing or something that is too scarey, I turn it off. I don't care for most mysteries, or horror shows, sports, most modern music and movies, and the list goes on.
We have watched Gordon Ramsey on "Hell's Kitchen" (about the only reality show I will watch ) and the fairly new "Moment of Luxury" with Bill Stubbs.
The channels with old tv programs have become some of our most watched with their old programs of "Andy Griffith", "Roseanne", "Home Improvement", "Murphy Brown", and "George Lopez". I am disappointed in them, though, because they have added a lot of programs that I didn't like the first time around and still don't. I thought that they were originally going to have some really old programs like "Our Miss Brooks", "My Little Margie", and "Dobie Gillis". Now those were some good programs that I would still like to see! Instead, they keep adding newer programs, over and over and over!
I've already said in a previous post that I really dislike the western channels putting on those awful tv westerns that I didn't like when they were on. "Bat Masterson", "The Rifleman", "Big Valley", and "Gunsmoke". We only had them on because you could only get about 2 stations in those days, so, whatever was on, people watched. If they have run out of old movies, I can recommend some good old Tim Holt westerns! They seldom have any of those anymore.
It got so bad this week, that I actually turned my tv off! That's something that I never do, unless I leave the house. Of course, I could still hear the kids' tv from the other room. "Sponge Bob, Square Pants", "Little House On The Prarie", and "Ghost Hunters". So, I was looking over You Tube for music and old movie clips.
The one saving thing for tv was that, after the comedies at night that I watch, "Scrubs", "Corner Gas", "Becker", "George Lopez", "Still Standing", "Home Improvement", "Roseanne" or "Andy Griffith", the old movie channel has been showing movies from the Big Band or Swing era. Last night, in the wee hours, they featured Betty Hutton and had an interview with her.
What an amazing woman she was! Just beautiful and so energetic, and so tragic. You just wanted to reach out and give her a hug.
Before that, I watched Cab Calloway (remember Zoot suits!), and the story of Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Lots of good shows, so much so that I just had to stay up and watch them.
There are a lot of video clips on You Tube that show the movies and music of those times. Just search for an artist or a song, even by the year.
After the good movies, and after the old "Star Trek" tv shows with William Shatner, I finally go to sleep.
Well, it isn't all just to watch tv. My tom cats keep me up all night. I don't know how they know it, but just as soon as my eyes start to close, one starts prowling and scratching on things. I got a little water pistol to squirt him with when he starts that. Now, when he just sees me start to get up with the water pistol, he runs. I think it has become a game. The other one starts running around, too, when that one starts meowing and scratching. Bitsy, the elderly Manx cat, just gets on the bed and goes to sleep, unless she gets sick at her stomach. Then I'm up chasing her around and cleaning up, sometimes, too. I think that they may just want my bed! As long as I am sitting at my computer, working, they sleep peacefully on my bed. But, when I move them to get in bed, they get frisky and keep me up.
They finally all go to sleep when the sun comes up and spend most of the day napping. I'm trying to keep them up during the day so they will be tired at night. Maybe they need a sleeping pill or tranquilizer so that I can get some sleep. When my son was a baby, the doctor gave him something so he would sleep at night, so I could get some sleep. Otherwise, I was up all night, watching him, to make sure he was breathing right! Maybe the cats need something too.
While I'm watching tv, I'm also usually doing some laundry, and sketching. I miss a lot of movies and programs, especially the ending, I guess, because I am thinking of something else, or have an image that I am trying to put on paper.
The sketch above is one I did one night this week. The movie "Apache" was on and I couldn't find anything else to watch. I was hoping for a comedy, but there wasn't anything good on tv. So, I settled on "Apache", while my clothes were in the washing machine. Burt Lancaster was in this one. Turned out to be a better movie than I had remembered. However, true to the way that I watch movies, I was impressed with the image of the pretty Indian maiden, walking through the village with her father. She just seemed to float and glide, so tall and straight, with her full skirt sort of bunched up and moving in front of her. I thought of how it might feel in early morning, walking over soft earth in such a village. They didn't seem to have the normal homes that we would think of in an Indian village. That's what I started sketching, and probably missed a lot of the rest of the movie.
The way that I watch movies, I thought that, when I saw it in the past, the movie ended with Lancaster being killed outside his hut with the sounds of his new baby crying. But, as I watched, this time, there was a happy ending. Or maybe I would classify it as another "non-ending", with the movie just seeming to stop and nothing memorable happening to complete the movie. I think that is why I don't remember a lot of endings. They don't really have an ending to remember! It's not all my fault, with my mind just wandering on to other images.
I thought that it was interesting that, after I sketched my Indian maiden, Russell Baker also posted a painting he did of an Indian chief, using some of the features of a deceased country-western singer, as a model. He had a little quiz to see if people could guess whose features he used. I told him that I was always amazed at how I will work on some piece of art work, and, somewhere, there will be another person thinking of, observing, or doing the same thing, or something similiar. The next day, he posted the painting of an Indian girl that he had worked on.
You can look for Russell Baker's work by clicking on his name in my sidebar under More Artists.
It's now Friday, and the weekend. Hope you have big plans to do the things you love to do, whether that is staying at home, relaxing and watching tv, or going out to eat, to a movie, dancing, or engage in some kind of sport, or whatever makes you happy, as Marvin Zindler used to say.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer Rain

, Summer Rain
8.5" x 11"
"Take us to the club so we can go swimming, " I begged.
"Not today, I'm busy, " Mama answered and went on with her work.
"Pleeaaasssse, take us!" I pleaded.
"Go find something else to do. I can't take you today." Mama kept working.
"But, Mama! We've learned how to swim and we might forget how, if we don't ever get to go practice!" I argued.
" Get someone else to take you. Or just find something else to do. I can't go today, and that's that!" Mama didn't stop working.
"But, Mama! Everyone else is going!"
"I said No and that's it. Now go play somewhere."
I wondered if tears would work.
I stomped out of the room, with tears beginning to form. It was so boring to have to sit here, in the heat of a summer afternoon in Texas, with no fan or air conditioning. And know that there would be lots of people out at the country club, splashing in the pool. At least there would be those who were members, and kids and parents who were not at their businesses, or gone to a cool place for vacation.
"You go ask her," I directed my little sister.
She obediently went back into the room where Mama was working and begged to be taken to the swimming pool. But that tactic didn't work either.
Maybe if I had noticed that sweat was pouring down Mama's face while she worked in the heat, I could have used the argument that she could go sit in the club house with the breeze blowing across the little water lily-filled lake to cool her. Or she could sit on a bench beside the pool, among the white lattice work that offered shade, and duck splashes of water from energetic kids-a place where she could be cool for a while. The old oak trees even offered shade in the areas around the pool, the clubhouse, the golf course, and the little drive that wound around the grounds.
Of course, I didnt' think of those things, being a kid. I could always walk out to the shade or walk downtown where some of the stores had fans, and the picture show had some sort of cooling system. But work had to be done, no matter how hot it was in the homes.
A few places just seemed to be naturally cool, no matter how hot it was, like Miss Donie's concrete screened porch and her front hall, or the City Hall steps and the tile floors inside, or the little step down concrete entry into the basement of the Methodist Church. There were places to cool off, but it might take some walking to get there.
Our small "cottage" that Daddy built for his little family, had lower ceilings, a tiny front porch, small windows in each room that didnt' offer much in the way of cross ventilation. It was more modern than the old homes with the 12 and 14 foot ceilings, and tall windows that did offer cross ventilation. Some of those people were so rich, they even had fans! At least, I thought that anyone who owned a fan at home certainly must be rich, because most people didn't have such things. Maybe a folding fan from the store or a piece of paper to hold and fan with, but certainly not an electric fan.
Some stores had ceiling fans, even outdoors under the entry. I was told that was to keep the flies away. Some homes had them, too, as did the church. But they were seldom used. I understood that they were really old and they didn't know if the wiring was still good.
Toot had a fan at her house. A black wire GE oscilating fan. It seemed to just blow hot air. She kept it on top of the refrigerator until the afternoon when her work was done. She would put a quilt on the floor of the sitting room, plug in the fan in front of her, turn on her favorite stories, lay down and read movie magazines or "Life", "Look", "Saturday Evening Post", "Liberty", or "Better Homes and Gardens" and "Good Housekeeping" until it was time to get up and get ready for the afternoon social. The ladies met somewhere at least two or three times a week, and, if she wasn't going to someone else's house, she was hostessing a get-together herself. If I was there, I had to lay down too, and look through the magazines and hear the stories on the radio, and, later, on tv, until I fell asleep.
The fan also was taken to neighbors' houses, and our's, if anyone was sick. It didn't help much in our house. Just seemed to blow hot air on us!
So, now that we had learned to swim, we really wanted to get into that pool at the club, where the water seemed to be freezing cold, until you were in for a while. We could cool off, play, meet friends there, exercise, and show off our prized bathing suits. Maybe even attract some boys.
"Let's ask Pappy to take us!" We stood on tiptoes to use the phone and call Pappy. She always wanted to do things for the kids, but we thought of her as older and not as much fun as Toot. But , she had a nice car, which she drove really slow, and would eventually get us there, along with stories and lectures about what nice girls should and should not do.
Pappy was busy too.
We went back in the house and fretted because we couldn't get out to the country club to swim. Our bathing suits, bathing caps, and towels were all ready to go.
"You may as well just forget about that, " Mama said. "It's going to rain."
She headed to the kitchen and got things out to make fudge. The sky grew dark and the kitchen light was turned on as a warm, gentle rain began to fall.
Mama made the fudge while we watched, and licked the spoons and bowl after she poured the chocolate into a buttered platter. We were still bored.
"Can I go outside?" I whined.
"I guess so. It's just raining. No thunder or lightning, just don't bring mud in the house!"
We looked out over the street from the little hill of our front yard. Edie was coming from her house, across the vacant lot.
"Put your suits on and come on over. We're going to swim in my yard." She said.
"You don't have a swimming pool at your house!" I was surprised at her offer.
"My mother wouldn't take us to the club, either, but we are going swimming anyway." She advised. "Put your suits on and come on." She walked back to her house.
The gentle rain was filling the gutter with clear water that trickled over occasional gravel and small rocks. The rain was like a soft shower on my skin.
We put on our suits, grabbed our bathing caps and towels and walked in the street to Edie's house on the corner. I could hear children talking on the west side of her house.
"Come on!" Edie called. "Can you swim underwater and open your eyes?"
Several little girls, dressed in their new bathing suits and caps, were splashing in the water.
"That little ditch isn't deep enough to swim in!" I didn't believe that this little puddle of water under her sidewalk was deep enough to swim in and thought it might be a trick. I also thought that, if I tried to swim into the metal culvert, I might get stuck, or even drown.
"Come on! Don't be a fraidy cat! Look. We all can do it!"
At the start of the puddle, the ditch really was shallow, but it deepened next to the culvert . Deep enough to swim and go under the water, through the culvert, and into a deep puddle on the other side. That quickly turned into just a trickle of water in the grass and just covered the feet. Little bodies submerged and kicked through the culvert. White bathing caps went underwater as the body could barely be seen under the water. Some swore that they opened their eyes as they went under the water.
We sat in the warm water and splashed, we swam through the culvert, underwater, like little fish, and reveled in the water falling from the sky onto our rubber bathing caps and our skin. We squealed and we splashed the afternoon away.
Going home, we splashed in the deep water of the puddle on the corner by her house, then kicked the water with bare feet in the gutter all the way to our house. The rain was ending and cerulean blue skies reappeared. A golden glow of the setting sun radiated through the oaks and crepe myrtles at the park, turning the white weeds that looked like little cat tails on the edge of the grass a beautiful shade of orange. Lights at the baseball diamond and at the corner by Edie's house, came on, signaling that a lively men's softball game would soon begin.
A taste of fudge on the steps completed the day. We were tired, but had fun playing and swimming in the puddle at Edie's . A bath with lots of soap bubbles to make bouquets and pixie hair-dos, and fresh clothes, left the skin wrinkled and our hair squeaky clean.
"Mama, can I go to the ball game?" I whined. I was tired, drained from being in the water so long, but all the other kids would be there, and I was ready to go to the next activity. It would be damp, muddy in places, but cool. And there would be soda water to put a package of peanuts in, and sip and munch, while being among friends. And who knew what cute boys might be there!
The next day, we went back to the puddle with glass jars to catch polywogs. We wondered at where the little squirmy things came from, when the water had been clear enough for us to swim in the day before.
In today's sketch, I have shown a group of little girls, playing at Edie's house in the rain. I don't have specific people in the picture, but thought of some of the styles of swim wear that we had, and some of the movements we might have made as we played in the rain. And, of course, I was thinking of our neighborhood.
We had a little badly needed rain yesterday, and again this afternoon. We didn't get much rain, but there was wind, and lots of lightning and thunder. Bitsy, my weather forecaster cat, hid under her favorite blanket. The computer was unplugged and we waited.
I remembered how nice it was to have long afternoons and days of gentle rains, without a storm. And that led to the sketch of us playing in the rain.
Unfortunately, during yesterday's storm, a teenage boy was hit by lightning at the nearby golf course. He was raising his club to hit the ball when he was struck. My daughter wondered why he didn't hear the warning sirens telling of lightning. They said that there are lightning detectors around town and on that golf course. I would think that you just would need to see the clouds, hear thunder, and head for cover. But, human nature being what it is, we just have to go on and do whatever we were doing, despite a little wind, lightning, storm, extreme heat, or whatever. That is so tragic, and scarey that it was that bad, that close to us.
It would be nice to have some more gentle rain that doesn't cause harm or damage, just to get out in and let the children play. I don't know about swimming in ditches and culverts, though. Now, I would think there might be a snake or fire ants in there!
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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Grand Old Flag

She's A Grand Old Flag
8.5" x 11"
Early morning sun blazed through the tall east windows of the homemaking room as the elementary grades and their teachers gathered in the large main room. Tables and sewing machines were moved back, leaving the wooden floor open for activities.
We had already been outside for our daily flag raising ceremony around the flag pole in front of the school. And now it was time for something for just the elementary students in the basement of the school.
The homemaking room was across the hall from first and second grade classrooms. Third grade was just down the hall. Fourth grade was upstairs, and the fifth through eighth grades were in the big study hall on the second floor. Individual classrooms were also there for subjects like Social Studies and English. The third floor was reserved for high school.
We didn't say what grade or level we were in. People only had to ask what floor you were on. "I'm on the second floor!" would explain where you were in school. I often wondered where people went when they had finished all the floors!
Windows in the basement rooms started at ground level and we could see out toward the board fence and shrubs of the football field and the Gougar's farmhouse across the street behind the school. The playground with its metal swings, slide, monkey bars, and see saw, were just to the right near the football field. Two round Coca Cola signs were at each end of a long sign that indicated Wilkerson Field. The tops of the west goal post could be seen above the shrubs.
Children marched by classes into the main homemaking room. Some teachers stood near the doorway that led to the bedroom section of the homemaking department. (The bedroom is also where sick children were put until a parent could come get them. And it was where future homemakers could practice things like making up a bed properly.) Mrs. Sullivan , the homemkaing teacher, was a high school teacher so she went into the dining room area of the homemaking room and busied herself there while the elementary teachers took control of the room.
There was also a raised kitchen area with work stations, each with a little sink and a gas hot plate to complete the homemaking department. A new kitchen stove, given each year by a merchant or the electric or gas company, completed the kitchen, along with a large refrigerator.
We called the whole suite of rooms the homemaking room.
Another pair of teachers remained near the door to the hall, once we had been directed to our places.
I've shown our first grade teacher, Mrs. Koestler, at the piano. I'm not sure if she was the one playing, but, whoever it was, played and sang with gusto.
Each morning, one student was selected to carry an American flag attached to a stick and lead the students as we marched around the room. We may have begun with the Pledge of Allegiance. I'm not sure about that. I know that we did the Pledge at the flag pole.
As we marched around the room, we sang "The Star Spangled Banner"and other patriotic songs. One that stands out, to me is "She's A Grand Old Flag". I didn't really understand the words. Somehow, I thought they were singing about the children's cereal, Pablum! I was much older before I realized that it had to do with the flag.
I guess it was because it hadn't been too long since we were eating breakfast at home. And, my favorite, even when I was older, was Pablum, or, sometimes, Rice Krispies, because of Snap, Crackle and Pop. I was a very picky eater and wanted only cereal, preferably Pablum, fruit, and milk to eat. So maybe I was just thinking about how good that nice, sweet Pablum tasted before school.
After our morning program, the teachers checked to see that we each had a clean handkerchief (Kleenex were rare in those times of rationing during WWII. Maybe they had not been invented yet. People had to wash and iron their handkerchiefs each week. I remember that some people would lay the hankies flat on their kitchen stove or the bathtub to dry flat. They still had to be ironed, though. Ladies had their own dainty hankies, but, if they had a bad cold or sinus trouble, they went to a man's handkerchief, or several, as needed. ) and that our fingernails were clean and our hair had been properly combed at home. Then we marched back to our classrooms and began our day.
As I drew "She's a Grand Old Flag", I was thinking of some of our teachers and some of the students in school. None of them are specific people, but I did think of some of the clothes we wore and how different people wore their hair. And, of course, this is not all the children who were in school. They would have filled the space between the flag bearer and the other children, but I wanted to let the pianist show, along with the sideboard. And, I just got tired of adding children when I was doing the ones in the foreground. I may add a few more who were lined up back toward the door. I was having a lot of trouble seeing this as I drew, and making the lines connect or where I had put a light line and wanted to darken it. Working this small, is just really hard for me, especially the way my eyes are now. I should work larger, but I just had this paper to sketch on when I decided to do the picture.
I find it a bit odd to think of where I started on this picture. First, I did the woman at the piano, making her smaller since the room looked really big to a child. Later, when I started adding children, I started with the two girls in the foreground who appear to be talking. (That would not have happened! We might look at each other, but no talking!) We would not have had such crooked lines, either. We learned early to march correctly, using the lines in the concrete floors to stay lined up. That was good practice for when we got into band later. We still had to march together using the lines even in high school. And no talking!
I still like to hear "She's A Grand Old Flag" and other patriotic songs. And I still think about how good Pablum tasted, when I hear that song.
I don't think they have that same cereal anymore. I bought some for my daughter when she was a baby, and it wasn't the same thing. I think that Malt O Meal is about the closest thing in taste. The texture is different, though.
I finally got to see one patriotic movie on the old movie station last night, after midnight, so I don't think it really qualifies as a Fourth of July program. "Yankee Doodle Dandy" was on with James Cagney. But nothing else after it.
I did watch reruns of the concerts in Boston in Washington D.C. I love to watch Craig Ferguson. But I wondered what happened to a big patriotic finale with the fireworks and music. (I didn't care for the musical entertainers, at all. Didn't seem to be very appropriate. Maybe they were, but I just couldn't understand what they were singing.) Craig said goodnight, and the fireworks seemed to still be going. Maybe they had a grand finale, but just ran out of time for tv. I don't know, but it wasn't very satisfying to end that way. The music that they played for the fireworks didn't go along with the Patriotic theme, except for a few snippets that they worked in of songs like "Yankee Doodle".
The Capitol Fourth at least had one patriotic medley, and had that rousing "1812 Overature" that we expect as a finale with fireworks. But, they changed and had a Marine bugle and drum concert after the "Overture". For some reason, I had to turn the tv all the way up in order to hear them, and I realized that it bothered me to not have the piccolos or flutes playing certain parts. Instead, they had mirambas playing the flute parts. I guess I felt that more because I played flute in the band. All I could think of was, "Isn't that odd!" as I whistled the flute part! (I can't blow the flute anymore, or I would have been playing along with them.)
Instead of a big finish, the fireworks were still going when the announcer said that the program would be re-run right after the end. And that was it! So strange.
But, all the thousands of people at those events seemed to be having a really good time.
Some neighbors behind us had some really good fireworks, but I worried , as always, because some of the neighbors' fireworks often end up by my house. It's very dry this year and there is a burn ban. But it has never stopped them before. I didn't notice the ones on the side of us or in front of us, though, having their usual fireworks. And those are the ones that I think always come in my yard. Maybe I was such a kill joy in the past, turning on my lights outside, when they would have fireworks, that they decided to not do it at home this year. Probably went over to the George Bush Library, or some other place to celebrate. Or maybe they just heeded the burn ban this year.
The boys had some poppers, those little things you can throw on the ground and they make a noise like a firecracker. I don't think they even used them though.
There are showers around, but seem to be missing us. We could use a little gentle rain. The grass really came out with a thunderstorm last week. We only got .27 inches of rain, though. Sounded like much more. It was enough to make my house settle more and we couldn't open the front door. Had to get someone to come fix the door, and will have to have them come back to level the house again. They couldn't do it until after the holiday, though. We practically need to start over with this house, or, at least, that's what I think, sometimes. So many things need to be fixed and none of us are very handy that way. It would be nice if things would just need a little paint, as high up as I can reach. I could do that.
Good luck and a speedy recovery to those of you who are facing or recovering from surgery! It's still amazing that they can replace parts like knees and even ankles, and that they can fix so many things like hearts and arteries, and even give shots in eyes.
Now if they could just fix the health care system so that people who need those things could have them done.
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Friday, July 4, 2008


Happy Birthday America !!!
These are family photos. I thought they would be appropriate for today.
While there are wonderful events going on, we ended up just staying at home, sad to say. The fighter jets that flew over the George Bush Libray, usually pass over our house, but I guess they went another direction this year.
My daughter "charcoaled" some meat, and I do mean "charcoaled" instead of barbequed. I had to pull the burned outside off of all of the chicken, which she cooked first. Her steak that she cooked later was okay but my grandson said it was too spicey. (Whatever happened to a little salt, pepper, maybe a little lemon juice, rubbed with garlic, or barbeque sauce! ) Tasted like charcoal, too. She said she used a mesquite mariande on it and that burned. I thought that she was taking after Daddy. In his later years, he loved to barbeque on holidays. He wouldn't wait on the fire to burn down , but poured on the lighter fluid to make the fire bigger. So, the barbeque always tasted like charcoal and lighter fluid.
My daughter got up this morning and made barbeque, mashed potatoes, barbeque sauce, and rolls. And a frozen apple pie with Cool Whip for dessert. She also got a small watermelon that they are eating now while watching fireworks on tv.
Normally we don't eat in the middle of the day, unless it is a quick sandwich or bowl of cereal.
But, she wanted all of us to eat before the oldest had to go to work this afternoon. So, I spent the afternoon eating and watching a program about the American Revolution on the History Channel.
That was about all there was on tv. I'm amazed at how inappropriate the programming on tv has become. On D-Day, there was absolutely not one movie about it, and, today, there was not one appropriate movie or program on, other than on the History Channel. Alfred Hitchcock movies just don't work when you are looking for something on the order of "Yankee Doodle Dandy" . The news programs seemed to do better with a bit of information as to what is going on in the country, and only CNN had very much coverage of the hostage release. Even the Western channels were a bust.
I wonder why stations that are supposed to have old western movies, are having so many old tv westerns instead. I didn't like any of those. I can tolerate Gene Autrey, but that's the only one. I got so sick of "Gun Smoke" when it was on, that I still don't want to spend a minute watching it now. Those stations don't make it easy to contact them, either. Surely, they can find some good old Tim Holt movies to show. They show them so seldom, but the really bad ones, like those awful "spaghetti westerns", they show over and over, and sometimes even on both channels.
I can't help but wonder if the people who are selecting tv programs are a product of the same education system that is producing the current crop of architects who have absolutely no sense of creativity or design. I think the tv program selectors must be some of those kids who play computer games or play with their cell phones during class. They don't have a clue about history, or even quality.
My daughter had suggested that, instead of going to the George Bush Library to watch fireworks, we might join some of her friends, who also don't like to participate in things, in a parking lot to watch from a distance. According to them, people even take their barbeque grills to that parking lot. Doesn't sound like any fun at all. You can't hear the orchestra, or the program that goes with the fireworks, that way, or tour the museum, taste the watermelon, hear the entertainment, or even take pictures with the historical characters. You just need to be there, I think.
One thing that I did do today is to start another drawing of a memory of when we were in elementary school, during WWII. Every morning, we marched around a large room, led by someone who carried our flag, and we all sang patriotic songs, after the whole school had participated in a flag ceremony at the flag pole. I'll post that one when I get further along with it.
I hope that you did / are doing something memorable today to observe the history of our great country. Be safe!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

July Fourth Celebration
8.5" x 11"
The drawing today is a memory of how it was on one Fourth of July when I was growing up. Daddy really believed in doing a few fireworks out in the front yard by the street before going to bed. In this drawing, Daddy, dressed in his khakis and felt hat, is ready to set off a Roman Candle as he stood by the curb. Barbara, the brave one, is arranging a small string of firecrackers along the curb. She wanted to light them herself, but Mama fretted from the porch and said, "No! Don't you let that child light a firecracker!"
I'm standing behind Daddy, scared, but fascinated, as I hold a sparkler that he lit for me.
You have to understand that I was terrified of lighting matches and fire after my dress caught on fire when I was about 4. I was terrified of matches, after the incident. I had nightmares about my room catching on fire in the night. In high school, even, our homemaking teacher made me sit on the steps to the kitchen all day one day, trying to get me to strike a match and light the gas hot plate. In college, I was glad if I could get someone else to light a cigarette for me. Eventually, it got a little better and I could light a stove and strike a match. But I did it in a hurry and got away from it. So just holding a little sparkler was a big accomplisment for me. I was assured it wouldn't burn and the little sparkles that came off from it didn't hurt. So, I was okay with a sparkler, but not anything more explosive.
We didn't have the fancy, spectacular fireworks that we have today. Just small, or a little larger, fire crackers, sparklers, Roman Candles, and, if you wanted something more risque, there were chasers and some kind of small rocket with a stick on it. You could stick those in the ground or put them in a bottle and launch them. They didn't go very far, and usually just fizzled.
The last two were more expensive, so we didn't get to see those very often.
There were no big fireworks displays for a community or city. I'm not even sure where we bought fireworks. There were no big fireworks stands. I think you could just buy a few at the grocery store.
We had a wonderful bandstand that would have made a great place for a patriotic band concert, picnics and playing in the park on the Fourth. But, a lot of people went out to the Country Club for a barbeque, swimming, golf, and enjoying the little lake with its lily pads and swinging bridge. Some families had their own celebrations with picnics, watermelon on the lawn, maybe lemonade and cake on the lawn or the porch late in the evening .
I don't remember that anyone barbequed or cooked out at home. You could go to the roadside park, after they built one north of town, and roast weiners on the barbeque pit, or have a picnic.
In my picture, you can also see the two story house across the street and part of their driveway. On the left side, you can see the park with the peak on the bandstand, and a street light in the park, glowing among the trees.
While we didn't have any big community patriotic celebrations on the Fourth, we did have plenty of patriotic feelings and observances at school, downtown, and at the churches. In small groups and large. For this was the time of WWII . We lived, believing in this country and our way of life, and thought that it was worth fighting and dying for. We thought that anyone who disrespected our country, our flag, our service people, our symbols, or our way of life, was sure to be hauled away to never be heard of again, and, at the least, shunned by the rest of the people. A flag that touched the ground, accidentally, had to be burned. Other than that, we cherished it. We wouldn't have even thought of not participating in the daily flag ceremony at school or any other place.
One time, a few years ago, I had to sit at the end of the football field during high school graduation. Before the program started, I was visiting with the lady who sat next to me. We couldn't hear the loud speaker at all from where we had been seated. Apparently, the people around us couldn't hear either. Suddenly, I realized that we had missed standing for the Pledge of Allegiance, and the people on the other side of the field were sitting down as it ended. Even at my age, I thought that was a terrible thing! And I was so embarrassed, to think that I had sat through the Pledge and not participated! What a terrible example.
Well, I did have the excuse that my knees were not letting me get up and down very well, and, above all, we couldn't hear what was going on at that end of the field.
Even at home, when I am alone, or when I was in my classroom and no one was there for morning ceremonies, I would stand up and participate during the Pledge and the prayer. I never was sure if I was supposed to or not, but I thought it would be the thing to do. It isn't for an audience, but reaffirms our beliefs and our dedication. No matter who is there.
In these times, we certainly need all the patriotism that we can get. I hope that you will be out celebrating, and thinking about why we observe this day. And pass it on to future generations.
Some observances here include a neighborhood celebration at Heritage Park.
And, of course, the big celebration over at the George Bush Library. That's always very special with a day of touring the museum, seeing people portraying historic characters, games for the kids, ice cold watermelon, vendors with treats like sausage on a stick, bands to entertain, a military plane flyover, concert by the local symphony to accompany the big fireworks finale. Downtown, a new place is opening with a band to entertain.
Some people will head for the lake, or enjoy a backyard barbeque or picnic.
With gas prices and everything going up but incomes, I imagine that a lot of people will be staying at home and watching the fireworks on tv.
Dry conditions here make it very unwise for people to do individual fireworks. Leave that to the professionals who do the big displays for special events. Enjoy one of those.
I hope that you are preparing for a wonderful, safe Fourth, with many happy memories, and mindful of why we have this holiday.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Calvert Trivia

Calvert, Texas
I've got some trivia questions for you today. Mysteries that need to be solved by someone alive today who can remember.
1. The picture at the top shows Hazel's Dress and Flower Shop with an empty building on the corner on Main Street. The question is:
What was in this building originally and what was there before it became Hazel's? What was in the building on the corner?
2.The second picture is also on Main Street, across from the old bank/Dr. Cain's dentist office, and the old Post Office. The question is:
What was in this building on the corner, next door to Brannon's Shoe Shop?

3. Some of the stores gave out tokens. The question is:
What would a token that has the letters CGV on it mean?

Please note that I do not have the answers! I hoped that, maybe someone who reads this blog, can tell me. Despite what some people believe, I don't know or remember everything. Far from it. But, maybe if we all pool what we know, we can come up with some of these things that have become mysteries over the years.
People ask me things, and I just don't know a lot of these things. I never believed that I paid attention very well, and things just went in one ear and out the other. I guess a little hung between my ears somewhere, and that is why I am able to draw about some of my memories.
History was not my forte, with all the unfamiliar names and dates. Pictures and stories were more interesting, to me.
Barbara and I were in Calvert, sketching, on Saturday. We sat beside what was once Mr. Brannon's shoe shop. I remember going into Brannon's to have shoes repaired. But what was next door? I cannot remember! And that concerns me that I can't remember something that I walked by for years! After all, it was across the street from the drugstore, so we couldn't help but see it through the window as we sipped a Coke or ate ice cream. And, it was on the way home as we crossed the street at the stop light. I feel sure that they didn't sell anything that I was interested in like comic books or movie magazines, dresses or hats, jewelry, or french fries and open faced sandwiches. It wasn't a place for kids to hang out. But what was there?
People have been asking me about buildings and what were the purposes of some features. For example, they have been doing a bit of an archaelogical dig under the floor of what was Hazel's in preparation for putting in a new floor, etc. They found old coins, leather, a brass wedding ring, earring, and tokens, among other things. There was even an old newspaper plate with an article and a photo on it. So who was this man whose last name was Calvin? And what did the article say? And was there a newspaper there at one time? Was this where Charlie Shelander and son had a bakery? Was it a grocery store?
We figured that the leather must have been from the cobbler shop that Emil Conitz Sr. opened about 1867, next door. Later, he had a grocery store. But what was next door to him? I have a photo of the outside, and some indoor shots of his store when it was a grocery store. But I can't tell what was next door to Conitz Grocery.
The big question, though, is:
What was the brick, oval shaped wall that was under the floor boards of Hazel's? A place to hide liquor during prohibition? The base of an oven? A cistern? A storm cellar? A cooler of some sort?
The token that had the letters CGV on it was also found in this area. One person suggested it might be from Drury Grocery, but those are the wrong letters.
Now, here are some bonus questions. Just some of the things that have me stumped!
4. Bonus Question 1:
What is the significance of the wooden clocks on the four corners, just under the roofline, of the old Sid Pierce home?
5. Bonus Question 2:
What was the name of the old movie theatre next door to the old bank/Dr. Cain's office on Main Street? This was the building that had the box office and gingerbread work on it, but is now gone. I've heard that it was an opera house, but the old maps show it as a movie theatre. I'm not talking about the Eloia, but one that was close to the stop light.
These are "Things that can keep you awake nights!"
There are no prizes for the correct answers, but, at least we will be able to pass those things down, hopefully, correctly. When some future generation wonders, or those who are curious, now, there will be answers, I hope!
Here are some links that show some of the dig in Calvert.
Please let me know if you have answers to any of the questions above, or if you have other interesting information that you would like to share about Calvert.
Incidentally, I really like the way that the photo came out of the bank/dentist office and Post Office, showing through the corner glass of the building across the street.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Expressions of Sympathy

Expressions of Sympathy
8.5" x 11"
Several posts back, I wrote about going to the cemetery to meet people coming out after a funeral. Several of us would pick wildflowers, maybe put them in a fruit jar with water, and present them to people who were leaving the cemetery after a funeral. We thought they might be sad and deserved some flowers, too. And, of course, being children, we didn't have money to contribute toward flowers for the deceased. We wouldn't have known how to go about that, anyway.
Usually, we didn't even know who the person was who died, or any of the mourners. We could tell there was going to be a funeral when the grave was being dug in the cemetery in the next block. Edie lived right across the street and I lived in the next house toward the school, so we always knew when there were funerals.
In this drawing, I showed Judy on the left, waiting to give her flowers. Edie is handing her flowers to a well dressed lady who was wearing a hat with a veil, which most ladies did back then. I'm standing next to Edie, and Tootsie is on the right. Inside the cemetery gate, a couple is leaving and my brave little sister was there, giving her flowers to the lady. (We probably either pushed her in there, or she thought that we were right behind her! Or, maybe, she just saw those people and headed for them while we stopped at the gate.) We weren't brave enough to actually go into the cemetery, with all those strangers. Most likely, we had been warned to leave those people alone and stay away from the funeral. So, this was as close as we went, the street by Edie's house.
I do know that we waited on the little hill of Edie's front yard, and went back there as soon as we had given our flowers. We watched in silence as the people left and the hearse pulled away from the drive through the cemetery. We thought of what we would do for the next funeral, wondered when it might be, and who were these people that we had given flowers to, where did they live, and who did they leave behind in the cemetery. We couldn't help but wonder about death and what it was like and hope that it wouldn't come to us in the night.
There was an empty lot between Edie's house and mine, that was solid with red Indian Paintbrushes in the spring. On the other side of my house, between there and the school, was an empty half of a block that was also filled with the Indian Paintbrushes. Along with the Indian Paintbrushes, there were always some small yellow, pink, purple, and white flowers. And sometimes we could find a good stand of Sour Grass to chew on, or pretty Queen Annes Lace to add to our arrangements.
There also was a coffee weed that grew between our houses, that was good to add to our play-like soup or mud pies. It had bean pods growing on it. Daddy warned us about eating it, though, because he said it was poisonous.
Wild plum trees grew along the fence line at the back of the lots. That made for some wonderful homemade plum jelly, and beautiful spring blossoms.
We had plenty to pick from for our flower arrangements. We didn't seem to have any Bluebonnets, though. There were lots of flowers in flower beds around the neighborhood and in the park, but we knew we would get into trouble if we picked any of those.
The cemetery in Calvert is a lovely park-like place. Beautiful old statues in there, and many interesting tombstones. Before fire ants struck our area, it was a pleasant place to sit and reflect or just read about and think of the people who are resting there.
I thought I would add this drawing today, thinking of another former Calvert resident and member of one of the old families, who has died at age 95. I remember that, when I was a child, he returned to Calvert in his blue Navy uniform during or just after WWII. I remember him coming to Sneed Memorial Methodist Church, wearing the uniform. I remember hearing of "Sock" Norton, but I don't recall any of what was said. Maybe just that he was in the service, or that he was home, or something from Calvert High School days, long before my time there. I also remember him being in his father's clothing store, Norton's.
I was reading his obituary in" the Marlin Democrat", and thought about funerals, the cemtery, and Calvert. Hammond Norton's son, Bill, has restored the old Norton homeplace, now the Hammond House B&B. Most of us remember it as the old courthouse, which turned out to be all wrong. It seems that it was actually built to be a jail. You can read more about the Hammond House and it's history, with pictures, online. I have a link to it in my sidebar.
Like many who have roots in Calvert, Ham seems to have had a long and outstanding life.
I know that his family, and those who knew him, have many wonderful memories of him. They gathered on Saturday to celebrate his life in a place near the Brazos that was dear to him.
Do you remember that almost everyone in Calvert had a nickname, or they were known as Mr. or Miss, no matter if they were married or not? I can hear my dad, my uncles, and Grandpa, people in town, saying those names and bits and pieces about them. But what did they say about them? I don't remember. Wish I had written things down.
We had "Toot", "Honey", "Pappy", "Uncle Doc", "Uncle Tom", "Bupsie", "Shrimp", "Snucky", "BB", "Uncle Goose", "ED", "Dee" in our family. There was "Jolly", "Tootsie", "Chi Chi", "T-Bone", "Slick", "Sooky", "Missie", "Estella", "Goo", among others in school. Around town, there were nicknames like "Lightning", "Hoss", and "Possum". There were lots more, but those just came to me.
Some of us never got a nickname, and was I glad to be in that group. I thought that someone would probably come up with a horrible name for me, something that would be really embarrassing. I was relieved to get through school without that happening.
One time, about 5th or 6th grade, we all decided that we would not write out our names on our papers in school, and would just put initials instead. We were really looking for shortcuts with our writing as those corns on our fingers got really sore sometimes! And, besides, if we could manage to get away with something and put something over on the teachers, that would be so great! Dutifully, one day, we all put our initials on our papers, along with our school, class, and date.
The next day, when the teacher was returning our papers, she just embarrassed us rather than just telling us not to do that anymore or it wasn't acceptable. She called out, not our names, but what the initials might spell or stand for. The first paper was for "Cap". Another was from "Eb", and there was one for "an Oak tree". She pulled mine out from the bottom of the stack and said, "Oh , here is one from the Calvert Chamber of Commerce!" I wanted to melt into the floor! I looked at the floor, and sweated, as I walked to her desk to retrieve my paper, and back. It wasn't such a good grade anyway. I shouldn't have claimed it, but she knew who I was. She knew all of us, despite our efforts to change our identitity and confuse the teacher, with all her many assignments.
Most of those nicknames were wonderful. They made us wonder how they came about, and sometimes they just really fit the person. For some people, we only knew them by nicknames, and their real names just didn't seem to fit, if we ever even knew what those real names were.
Some of those nicknames became legend, in the stories of the school and town. As the older people and families pass on, however, those names and stories are being lost.
I know that some people didn't like their nicknames, or their real names. The more they didn't like something, the more it stuck.
I can't believe that it is July already. What happened to June! I thought that I had a few days left, and, boom! All of a sudden it was the end of June!
I hope that you are planning some patriotic activities and family events for the Fourth and for the month of July.