August 31, 2010

My Historic Photographs of Bethania

are on Facebook although not authorized by me or there with my permission. Take a look at the image on the right and notice how the second child from the left is distorted. The Facebook page happens to be the one for the town of Bethania. I wouldn't mind (actually I do mind) but they are not carrying my book in their shop - claim that everything is purchased through Old Salem. It's really the feud and fences. The images are from original glass negatives in my possession and were taken by JL Kapp around the turn of the century. I paid dearly to have these glass images made into photographs.

The images are from my book also and I have some posted on both my websites. So is the information for my book, Bethania: The Village by the Black Walnut Bottom.

August 27, 2010

Antique Kitchen Eye Candy

One of my favorite kitchens was in the gentleman farmer's estate we restored in DeKalb, Illinois. The home was a big rambling brick former mansion with many out buildings on 3 acres of land and sat on the outkirts of town in the middle of corn fields. We loved it and had just completed my dream bathroom when my company wanted to move us to California, which, we did - but only long enough to buy high, sell low, and move on to North Carolina.

I filled the kitchen in DeKalb with antiques from floor to ceiling. I'm glad that i did because when I left the corporate world for good, these antiques helped me to initially supply my antique shop in Bethania, North Carolina.Many of my antiques are enjoining new homes elsewhere. This is the way it should be, recycling at its finest, preserving the past while giving pleasure to the future.

August 25, 2010

Back to School Blues

Bethania High School
I am spiraling downward,
traveling backwards through
hallways of cinder block,
white-washed walls with
tattered banners, ancient
posters scattered here and there.

Memories corrode my psyche,
lockers open then quickly shut,
soft kisses behind metal doors,
thundering echoes,
remembering heartbeats of youth,
rushing scuffling feet.

Marching to tunes
embedded in minds
full of dreams,
tomorrows yet to come
different drums that beat
to passion long ago lost in flame-tipped heat.

Lanky legs,
arms and hands
grappling beneath a Madras shirt,
making promises we would not keep
could never keep..
except for remembering you,
weeping for
my old high school friend.

August 24, 2010

American Lifetsyles of the 1920s

Between 1919 and 1929, the gross national product rose by 40 percent. During this decade mass production made America the richest nation in the world, giving birth to the culture of consumerism and materialism. In 1919, the 18th Amendment passed the Act of Prohibition, which made consumption and even possession of alcohol illegal. Prohibitionists thought that prohibition would alleviate social problems. The law was difficult to enforce and opened the door to speakeasies where illegal booze could be purchased. The making of homemade bathtub gin and gangsters and bootlegging became rampant. Subsequently, prohibition ushered in an era that would catapult American society into the modern age, the fabulous Roaring Twenties.

Postwar disillusionment, deflation, depression, and unemployment plagued 1920 and 1921, and in 1922 recovery helped to raise the standards of living and was followed by years of economic prosperity for many Americans. The cost of living kept in line with wages and incomes. Americans began to spend money or to make purchase on time. Consumerism flourished and as the roles of people changed, so did their lifestyles. Technology played a vital part in delivering the economic and cultural good times that most of America enjoyed during the 1920s.

Technological advances rose at a rapid pace and by the mid 1920s, 35 percent of the population was wired for electricity. New products poured into the market. Electrical sewing machines, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, mixers, stoves, toasters, irons, hot-water heaters, space heaters, and refrigerators made life easier and convenient for the modern housewife. Canned food, household appliances and ready-made clothing further liberated the average woman who now had more time on her hands.

However, it was the nineteenth amendment and womens' right to vote that ushered in the era of the new woman, as her taste of independence during the war years made her an empowered decision maker. Women were not about to relinquish their new roles. In the age of the Gibson girl, women did not openly date and waited until marriage to have sex. A battle of morals waged. Margaret Sanger who advocated for birth control, gained a large following in even respectable circles.

Birth control had been around since the beginning of time, but now it was advocated more openly and partly because of the new era which, gave rise to another new woman called a flapper. She drank, smoke, cut her hair short in a “bob.” She wore outrageous make-up, short dresses, long jewelry and powdered knees with turned down stockings. She danced, went to petting parties and flaunted her sexuality. She led another revolution for women’s clothing and many women adopted the shorter dress and a "no corset image." With the Flapper's focus on dieting; her popular look propelled a significant change in the dietary habits of Americans as a whole — less fat and meat, and more fruits and vegetables and an interest developed in nutrition, caloric consumption and physical vitality. The discovery of vitamins and their effects also occurred around the same time. Countervailing tendencies lay in cigarette consumption, which rose to roughly 43 billion annually, and bootleg liquor became a $3.5 billion-a-year business during the same period.

Changes in lifestyles influenced clothing, hairstyles and lifestyles set precedence for the Art Deco architecture, art, d├ęcor and home furnishings, which all flourished during the 1920s. However, it was the automobile that would dramatically alter lifestyles. With the automobile came freedom to travel and necessitated the construction of paved roads. An abundance of fuel increased migration from farms to cities and cities to suburbs, where consumerism and materialism continued to foster a new mass culture. The American public flocked to Vaudeville, movie houses, and sporting arenas. Baseball, dance marathons, flagpole sitting, flying stunts and daredevil aviation became the rage. The first talking picture was introduced in 1922 and would consequently explode the movie industry into a permanent cultural necessity. The radio became a national pastime and further whetted Americans appetite for materialism and became one of the decade’s most influential advertising agent.

The Roaring Twenties was an age of happiness and prosperity for the American family, yet the typical American was still hard working and sensible. Workweeks became shortened for industrial workers, white-collar workers often enjoyed a full weekend off, and annual vacations became a standard job benefit. Americans in general were living longer and began to think in terms of planning for retirement and old age. What most Americans did not consider planning for is that the stock market would never quit increasing and that the American lifestyle of the 1920s while fundamentally sound, would come crashing to a halt for many, on October 24, 1929.

August 18, 2010

Mystical Glastonbury

"And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?"
- from Blake's Jerusalem





Glastonbury Tor is one of the most spiritual places in England and although it has been a few years since I've been there, I remember the images and explosion of my senses as if it were yesterday. The setting surrounding the Tor is a place of many legends.

The travel guide told of the story of Joseph of Arimathea and it was here where he brought the Holy Grail, to the sight where he had brought his nephew Jesus, when he was a small boy. Joseph is even said to have built one of the first churches here, though Jesus is also given credit because he became a carpenter by trade. An excavation uncovered remnants of ancient wood posts that conceivably date to the time frame.

Some legends say this is where Arthur was laid to rest, home to Gwyn ap Nudd, King of the Fairies, and home to the goddess Cerridwen, keeper of the cauldron of knowledge. In 1970, a timbered trackway was discovered and is said to date to around 39th century BC. This was a heavily used road way believed to have been built by the ancient Sumerians.

Others say the Glastonbury Tor landscape is a center for Ley lines. I personally felt the mystical and powerful energy. Two natural springs run down the tall hill, one pours water the color of red, and the other almost white. The red spring runs into the Chalice well and is said to be the keeper of the divine feminine, and very well may be, the cauldron of knowledge and where the Holy Grail was laid to rest.

August 14, 2010

Adventures of a North Carolina Yankee in King Arthur's Court

The first semester my older brother Ken came home from college, he would make me memorize Shakespeare. The second semester, he threw in Chaucer, but this time, I had to recite the words in old English.

What’s in it for me,” I innocently asked.

“You get to read my books, you don’t have to iron my shirts, clean my room, and I’ll buy the beer.”

Ken was 18 and legal to participate in buying massive quantities of alcohol. But only if he drove to New York or Maryland. Not a problem because either border was less then two hours away.

Hmm, I was reluctant to respond. This concerned me. Although Ken did not drink and drive and was often the designated driver, I had been in a car before when Ken drove and was extremely un-nerved. Ken had a lead foot and liked to exceed the speed of sound. I always sat in back seat next to my mother or other passengers. It was amazing how many people that you could fit in the backseat of a Volkswagen Beetle.

“Promise you’ll follow the speed limit. Who speaks old English?”

“No one.”

I mulled over the possibilities.
- I would become popular overnight.
- I could become Prom Queen.
- There was possibility that Ken could actually teach me something – (Nah).

I am both foolishly brave and stupidly clever. This happens to be J. R. R. Tolkien’s definition for his last name and because this story includes him, my real maiden name (which I will not reveal in order to protect the innocent) means besides being foolishly brave and stupidly clever, is – she stretches the truth – a lot.

Phew. . . now that we’ve gotten this out of the way --- on to my adventures in England.

Not too many women my age, decide to become a scholar, go back to school, and rethink their whole life after living almost half of a century. There are parts of my stories about Oxford that are quite true. I also have a vivid imagination. “Aye there’s the rub” as Shakespeare would say.

I reserve the right to embellish. This lends interest to the true story. Therefore it is up to you – the reader --- to decide what is true (or not).

A truth is that I easily get lost although I sometimes do a good job of finding my way home – sooner or later (mostly later). Christ Church in Oxford, is where I first met Bill the Duck. Bill was an English Duck, which is similar to Canadian Geese (some are of English heritage). Ducks and I seem to be attracted to each other, most likely a form of animal/human magnetism.

Bill claimed he was an Inkling (note the similarity to duckling), often sat in with C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien at the “Bird” no less, which, is short for – ‘The Eagle and Child,’ a.k.a as the ‘Bird and Child.’ Whether or not Bill’s story is true may be questionable but I had been to the Pub often during my stay at Oxford and enjoyed a Brakspear Bitter (pronounced the same as Shakespeare only with a B sound) along with their roast duck specialty.
Then there is the tale of the pub’s beginnings, handed down over the centuries. A sign hung over the doorway shows an eagle though it’s beak and feet are oddly duck like. A mythical bird in flight swooped down over a watering hole and wooshed up into its talon-webbed feet, a baby born out of wedlock. The babe was a male-child and would one day become a once and future king. Now it seems to me I heard a similar story --- about King Arthur.
The event happened long before Bill’s time, even longer before Shakespeare’s time if one were to believe that Bill the Duck was William re-incarnate. Of course Art was the once and future King – I know – he told me himself.

August 13, 2010

Turn of the Century Oak Chair

Question:

My friend sent me an email; "I am struggling with this chair...name, description, time period...I get close... Is it tiger oak? Does it have Triffied feet? Is it 1900's? Nothing in my books are taking me to it!"



Answer:

It's understandable why your books aren't taking you to it because there are a number of different things going on with this chair. First, the chair is splat-back also called fiddle back and typically this kind of chair top/back would be more squared cornered and would not typically have cabriole legs as seen. The feet fall into the "paw foot" with a pad on the bottom (Triffid feet have more finer lines and are somewhat squared). The wood appears to be a combination of tiger oak (which is accomplished by quarter-sawing wood), golden oak or even red oak (hard to tell because the chair has been refinished). The chair is a common - turn of the century style and falls into the "Design Reform" period up to 1930. I think the chair seat would have originally been wicker or leather - (you can tell from looking underneath the seat). Oak sells much better in the mid-west - here the chair might sell for $50.00.