Laundry

Laundry

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Cleveland County Courthouse, Rison, Arkansas

 The Cleveland County courthouse, located in the county seat Rison, is the county's "most architecturally significant building (Cleveland County Courthouse, Arkansas Historic Preservation Program).  It was constructed in 1911 for $65,000.
 Built in the Classical Revival/Modern Renassance styles by Theodore M. Sanders, architect, and Monk & Ritchie, Contractors, the building  showcases
...brick quoins, denticulated cornices, Tuscan pillars, and limestone keystones on first floor windows...(Arkansas Historic Preservation Program)
 The clock tower rises 20 feet above the roofline from where it sits on an octagonal dome.  It has four clock faces, and is "surrounded by Tuscan pilasters" which are also featured on the front of the central core of the building (Groshong, D., 2012, Cleveland County Courthouse, Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture).

The courthouse retains much of its historic interior, including ceramic tile and pressed tin ceilings.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Wortham Gymnasium in Oak Grove, Arkansas

Oak Grove is a small African American community about 2 miles from Rosston, in Nevada County, Arkansas.  It has quite the history of significance in education for African Americans in Arkansas.
Few, if any, agencies of the New Deal directly affected as many African Americans during the Great Depression as did the WPA. (Gatewood, 2000, p. 126)
Arkansas benefitted, as did African American communities across the United States, with the appointment of Alfred Edgar Smith from Hot Springs, Arkansas as a member of President Roosevelt's so-called "black cabinet" (Gatewood).  Mr. Smith served as assistant and advisor to Harry Hopkins, with a particular focus to advise about the needs and concerns of African Americans in the deep South.  Being from Hot Springs gave Mr. Smith in depth knowledge of the needs of his home state, and a number of educational facilities were constructed across Arkansas--many which still stand and are in use today.
In addition to the large gymnasium, the cafeteria/home economics building remains.  Both were constructed with funds and labor from the Works Progress Administration.  I would not have known the purpose of the home ec building had not a couple who lived across the street come out to visit with me.  While she was not from the community, he had lived there his entire--though young--life and gone to school in the buildings.  One building from the three-building complex constructed with WPA funds has been demolished.
Architectural classification of the concrete foundation, wood/weatherboard walls and asphalt roof was "Late 19th/Early 20th Century American Movements/Craftsman (Story, 1990). 
...tall, single story, wood frame gymnasium...designed in the broad, massive style common to the Works Progress Administration (WPA) commissions of this type and size...locally significant example of a simple but handsomely balanced design which reveals the skill of the Works Progress Administration workers.  (Story, 1990)
Two side sheds flanked the court area, and a stage was at the opposite end from the ticket booth in the entrance.  In 1990, the building and its interior were almost completely intact, and contained the original bleachers, columns, interior strip sheathing, stairwells, and ticket window, all "preserved and in good condition" (Story).

Sadly, that is no longer the case.  The roof collapsed at some point since 1990, and the interior is now significantly damaged.  Additionally, people have stolen items and artifacts from the building according to the couple across the street.  He stated the building had a historic plaque, and one day some folks from Texas stopped and removed it from the wall as a "souvenir."
 A high school building was erected in 1925 with help from the Julius Rosenwald fund.  The principal from 1932-1935, Mr. Vines, received a grant to use WPA labor to construct the home economics building.  When the Rosenwald school burned shortly after, Mr. Vines "persuaded the WPA to build a new administration/classroom building instead, and by 1935, to also building the home economics building (Story).
In 1935, L. W. Johnson became principal, and expanded the curriculum to include 12 grades.
It was at this time also that Johnson himself became aware that there was no gymnasium building locally which was available to blacks...Once again, with the aid of WPA labor, Johnson worked with county superintendent Basil Munn to obtain a new gymnasium for the students of the Oak Grove School District.
The building which resulted was not only a large and impressive structure; at the time, it was only the second gymnasium for blacks in the state of Arkansas and it was the largest gymnasium in the state...the Wortham Gymnasium...stood then as it does now for the endurance, hard work, and vision of the blacks in this area who dreamed on an independent opportunity to educate their own. (Story)
A professional basketball team--archrivals of the Harlem Globetrotters--played the A. M. & N. team from Pine Bluff.  The New York Renaissance Big Five, or the RENS as they were known, played the team in the Oak Grove gymnasium rather than in the college gym in Pine Bluff (Gatewood).
Construction of the gym began in 1938 and was completed by 1939.  It was named in honor of Roger Q. Wortham, Nevada County Judge from 1929-1935, and a supporter of Oak Grove's educational program (Smith & Joshua, 2003). While it was second in the state, it was the first high school gymnasium for black students in Arkansas.

The WPA granted $8,954 for the gym construction and the school district provided $3,680.  Local resident C. C. Bazzelle provided a portion of the lumber for the gym from his stand of "school trees" (Gatewood, p. 128).

The Oak Grove Civic League received a $10,000 preservation grant in 1998 to restore the gym.  It is unknown as to why the project was discontinued, and the League has been discontinued since at least the early part of the 2000s.
 
Sources:  Gatewood, W. B. (2000). Wortham Gymnasium.  In M. K. Christ and C. H. Slater (eds) Sentinels of History: Reflections on Arkansas Properties on the National Register of Historic Places.  Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press.

Smith, C. C., & Joshua, L. W. (2003). Educating the masses: The unfolding history of black school administrators in Arkansas 1900-2000. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press.

Story, K. (1990). Nomination form for Wortham Gymnasium for the National Register of Historic Places.  Retrieved from Arkansas Historic Preservation Project.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

On selfies, cleaning out the water trough, thunderstorms, repairing leaks, and new water troughs

Yes, it's been really busy the last couple of days!  I extended my stay two more days as there were still a few things Sis and I had not gotten accomplished yet.  Our evening caregiver is gone, and with a night shift vacancy, it means double time, so an extra pair of hands is helpful.  Not to mention that Sis and I have a lot of fun together and it helps to share the workload.

 So, about those selfies: I saw a tee-shirt yesterday that said "Selfies: Because no one else wants to take your picture."  I had to laugh.  I mean, really, has the selfie craze not gone completely wild?  Sure, folks have always taken self-portraits, but it used to be a lot harder, and therefore, less ubiquitous.
So, here I am competing with J Lo's posting last night of herself sans makeup and hair in a pony tail.  Except I had been cleaning out a horse trough, and then it started raining on me.  Sunday afternoon, when I thought I was leaving for home Monday morning, I finally forced myself to get out there and start bailing water and scrub the water trough.  It ain't easy.
 Just as I was finishing up and starting to refill the water, the clouds that had been building actually delivered, and it began to rain.  I stood in it.  I pulled up a chair and sat in the shop with the overhead door open, watching it pour, listening to the sound of music--the rain hitting the tin roof.  I went outside again and stood in it.  I walked up to the house in it.  I went to the back bedroom and sat on the bed, watching it rain through the screen door, listening to the sound of it hitting the tin roof of the carport.  It thundered, and rained, and rained and thundered.  Joyous!
 I decided late Sunday, about bedtime, to stay over.  Among the things that needed doing was repairing a leak in the shower faucet, and one in the outside faucet.  The plumber came out yesterday, looked at it and said, "Man, I hate to start messing with that."  I understand, as does anyone who lives in an old house with metal pipes.  You fix one spot, you are likely to cause a problem somewhere else.  Fittings get corroded.  That is why this faucet has a second faucet underneath.  When I was here last summer, the top faucet was turned on, and left on, and the bottom faucet was used to turn the water on and off when needed.  It is a common fix.  Somehow, with all the caregivers coming and going, instructions got misunderstood, or forgotten, or not transferred.  At any rate, people had been using the top faucet to turn on and off...and it no longer could do that due to the internal fittings loosening.  The result was a pretty good sized leak when the water was turned on to fill the water trough, and a drip when it was off.  Not good in a drought.

I mentioned it to Sis and that we had to get that fixed now.  The plumber said to do what we had been doing a year ago: turn on the top faucet all the way, which opened things up and allowed enough water to flow through that it did not leak, and use the bottom faucet.  My grandma came out in me, and I came up with a way to ensure the caregivers--in the event of changes or forgetfulness--would not use that top faucet again.  Underneath my note that says not to do it, I taped the bottom half of a water bottle over the faucet, so you cannot use it unless you went to all the effort to take the plastic bottle off.  Just in case someone could not make the leap from "faucet has a bottle on top of it, taped to the pipe, I can't reach it so I must not be able to use it" I added the note inside a plastic bag and taped it up a bit more.  Cheesh--was no one raised in the country around here besides me?
 Meanwhile, Monday morning when I went out to feed, I came back in the house and told Sis that half of the water in the trough had leaked out overnight.  Also not a good thing in a drought.  Regular readers know that Dad made a water trough from an old cast iron bathtub.  He grew up during the Great Depression, and he continued to re-use and make-do all his life.  He plugged the drain with some kind of contraption, and it has worked fine since 1982, but something apparently came loose when I was cleaning it out Sunday, and it is impossible to repair without turning the tub over, which I cannot do even with help.  Sis and I decided it was high time to just get a water trough that was intended to be a water trough.  She had to go to Wichita Falls yesterday, and just stopped by to pick one up.
 This morning, we unloaded it from her SUV and set it up.  It has a real drain, with a securely attached plug, is fairly light when empty, and hopefully, will not permit algae to grow.  If so and it has to be cleaned, instead of bailing water out, we can just open the plug, let it drain, tip the trough, and then refill.  Heaven, I'm in horse water trough heaven.
We waited until Rio and Jenny went out to the pasture after they ate to do it, so I don't yet know how they like it.  I do know that it sure meets with my approval.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Lynn's Bench

 After a week of doing things here at Mom and Dad's, Sis and I drove up to Elbert to the cemetery Friday morning.  She wanted me to see Lynn's headstone, which they finally were able to finish.  She and Lynn had talked about it and decided they wanted a bench.  Just behind the bench, the headstone with the white flowers on it is Mama and Papa--my maternal grandparents.  Jane and Lynn were very close to Mama and Papa due to their living on the coast at the same time for years.  Lynn said he wanted to be buried at Papa's feet.  It is a small country cemetery, and many of my maternal relatives are buried there.
I don't know who mows the cemetery, but they had not finished the most recent sections--though most of it is dead brown grass anyway.  August is the hottest and driest month generally, although we got a fair rain yesterday, and it is thundering and dark clouds at the moment, and raining all around us, and temperature has dropped and cooled down to a pleasant 95 at the moment, due to clouds and wind.

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the graves with the shells on them, though time and the elements have taken their toll on most of the ones in Elbert.  My great-grandmother's grave has them.  We wandered through the family plots, talking about the ones we remembered, the ones we didn't, but knew to whom they "belonged" and a couple of the names that I was unsure of the relationship.  Sis filled in the blanks on a couple of them, and I had to ask Mom about a couple when we got back to the house.  The family history is fascinating to me--both those I knew and those who came long before me.

We stopped off at the small grocery store in Newcastle on the way back for bread, eggs, an apple, and some cool drinks.We had decided on tuna salad sandwiches for lunch.  We were headed out to Sissy's house for me to help her with some housecleaning and chores.  She spends so much time over here at Mom and Dad's, or running errands for them or taking them somewhere, that she seldom has time to take care of her own house.

We cleaned house for Mom as the regular housekeeper was unable to do it on her usual day this week, and it was getting a little gnarly by today.  Now I am contemplating a nap, what with Rio fed and my nodding off over the computer.  Definitely a good plan before heading to the shower, though sis will be back to get me in a couple of hours as we have more errands to accomplish before the weekend is done!  Time to go home, in order to rest!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Happy Birthday to me!


 Wednesday was my birthday.  After Sis and I got home from the doc with dad, I laid down to take a nap.  She called me in a bit and said my aunt was here.  I had no clue when I walked into the den that I would see two of my aunts, my uncle, and a birthday cake.  A bit later, my niece and her mother came out.
Dad is the oldest of his siblings, and his sister and one brother are the only remaining of the five sons and one daughter born from 1925 through 1939.
Our cherished caregivers, Bert and Diane, conspired to get my beautiful birthday cake.  Dad calls them his "helpers" and they are a God-send to us.

I was absolutely surprised and not expecting this little surprise, and it was delightful.  Sis had me a little birthday box, with new pjs, tote bag, and a few other personal things for my home office and bedroom. It was a lovely day and another great little memory to tuck away of this summer.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kerdi...the choice of pros, like Suzassippi

Okay, I am not a tiling/Kerdi putting up expert, but I am pretty handy with both, and I figure if Kerdi is the choice of pros--which it is for many of them--it's my choice, too.  Rand and I had a great experience with Kerdi doing our master bath shower, which you can read about here.
If you have been dropping by Lottabusha County for the last several years, oh, like since 2008 when I ripped out this bathroom, you know it has been a lot slower going back in.  After last year's knee surgery and this year's hip surgery knocked me out of plans to finish, Rand had to go and have shoulder surgery and throw the summer schedule off.  Nonetheless, I said I would finish it before the fall semester began...
My summer was busier than I had originally anticipated, so with it almost over, I finally got around to cleaning off the porch so I could find my tools and have some work space, and this last Saturday, I measured and cut Kerdi and prepped.  Sunday, I put up the Kerdi...which involves mixing mortar, a fourth of a bag at a time, which involves weighing mortar and measuring water, mixing using a mortar paddle and drill, and putting up with a trowel, notching, then putting up the Kerdi, then smoothing with the flat side of the trowel to ensure adhesion.  Now that does not sound all that difficult, except the mortar is heavy, I have to bend over, pick it up on the trowel, smooth it on--and it is kind of thick and hard to work with.  Bending over and picking up is still one of those things that gives my hip a pause, as in it is not really comfortable to do yet.  So, by Sunday evening when I finished, I was "whupped out."
Then, I had to pack and drive 14 hours to Texas come Monday morning.  I had a smooth and uneventful trip, even getting an average of 54 mpg with my 4 spiffy new tires on the Lexus hybrid.  Thus, I did not need much stopping for gas, and surprisingly, only had to take a short nap once, and a 30 minute break at World Market in Fort Worth.  (Yes, I needed that tea, lamp shade, candles, grapefruit and tangerine shower gel, and bottle of wine.)  I could have bought a whole lot more--I love that store.  It gave me enough of a second wind to get the last hour and a half home.

Mom and Dad were still up and we visited a bit before bedtime.  I might as well have stayed up--I was so wired after the long drive that I felt as if electric currents were coursing through my legs, and I could not get comfortable nor unwind enough to sleep.  I was awake until after 4 AM, thinking about all the things that need doing in the next few days--as if that will get any of them done anyway. 

I was up at 6:30 to go feed Rio and Jenny (yep, babies, Suzy's back!) and get the paper for Dad.  Then, a morning spent responding to emails from work, trying to get a bit of research done while Mom and Dad slept all morning.  After that, it was time to do the pharmacy run, the WalMart run, and the grocery store run.  Lunch and more naps, mixed in with a few fun stories.  When it is not a circus or a crisis around here, there are even some fun moments that we all enjoy.

Since everyone is napping and I am a bit weary, I am back in the "back forty" as we always called the bedroom and bath in the back part of the house that was my bro's room growing up, then later Mom and Dad's.  Now, it is a seldom used guest room, although since my sis is here pretty much full time now, she has used it.  She gets cold, and the one in the front (our old room) has the air condtioner.  It is quiet, pleasant with the windows open and the breeze, the ceiling fan, and the bed is comfy.  When she is not "on duty" with a shortage in caregivers, it is a nice escape for a bit of privacy and peace and quiet.  Thus, here I am escaping since she is not back yet, and D is cooking supper and taking care of Dad while he naps in the den.

I might take a nap myself before time to feed in a bit.  I heard Jenny out there braying a minute ago, as they know I am here and are announcing it is supper time.  Their timing is a bit off though, as no, not quite Jennybelle--go graze some more or you will just think it is time for breakfast sooner.
I have meanwhile, been enjoying the use of my birthday present from Rand--a keyboard and stand for my iPad.  It lets me use the iPad like a computer, but is easier and lighter to tote.  I think I might prop it on the exercise bike and see how it works there.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blair T Hunt Gymnasium

When I posted on the Booker T. Washington High School in Memphis a few days back, I forgot I had also taken a photograph of the gymnasium.  The gymnasium was named in honor of Professor Blair T. Hunt, who served as the principal of Booker T. Washington for 24 years.  Professor Hunt, who also pastored "The Boulevard"--the Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church, served in World War I.  His experience of the poor treatment given African American soldiers inspired his commitment to improve conditions and foster equality in Memphis (WKNOfm).

The gym was dedicated in 1950. Shortly before completion, the city learned it would be named for Professor Hunt, who was still living and still working--an unheard of and unexpected honor for an African American.  The "...first first-class gymnasium...in its history..." was constructed at a cost of $250,000 (Williams, N. D. 29 April 1950. Down on Beale. The Pittsburg Courier, p. 9).

Professor Hunt was deeply involved, by all accounts, in the lives of the young men and women he served.  From Mr. Nat D. Williams' regular column, "Down on Beale" I found frequent reference to both Professor Hunt and the Booker T. Washington high school.  Excerpts from one particularly moving, and telling story, are shared below.
...the folk living in that section of this man's country dominated by Beale Street, down here where the blues began, deep in the heart of Dixie, saw something last week that made their hearts skip a few beats at first, and then stand plumb still.
They were seeing history in the making.  They were first-row witnesses to one of the most unusual events in the social evolution of the South.  And they stood transfixed with awed amazement at the occurrence, as if they'd heard the first tentative toots from Gabriel's trumpet.  Their astonishment and awed amazement were understandable.
Not a living Beale Streeter had in his memory...not a record of Beale Street carried in writing...not a tradition of Beale Street's long past could pass along by hearsay or word-of-mouth--anything to match the "thing" that the folk in town saw last week.
A Memphis Negro boy...a soldier who took part in the Korean War, was honored posthumously, with the Distinguished Service Cross...The boy whose mother and father received the coveted award was Pvt. Edward O. Cleaborn, and 18-year old kid from the slums of South Memphis...an area which is almost a replica of Beale Street, the home of the blues...those indigo tunes which carry such deep sentiments of disappointment and nostalgia.
Young Cleaborn...was a typical "boy of color" in the deep South.  When he reached his teens circumstances dictated that he make a decision about the slum-y condition in which he lived.  He volunteered for service in the United States Army.  This gave him a chance to wear some decent clothes...eat regularly...enjoy some measure of protection from indiscriminate protectors of the system of American racial segregation...find a bit of self-expression...and get the feeling of "belonging" to something big and substantial.  He "belonged" to the Army.
Private Cleaborn was killed when he returned rifle, grenade, and machine-gun fire at the contingent of Chinese army approaching his unit.  His actions permitted other members of his outfit to escape the intended entrapment (Williams).
The thing that knocked Memphis to its collective knees was the manner in which the whole town responded to the award which was given to Private Cleaborn.  Colored Memphis was satisfyingly shocked by the manner in which the white press referred to Private Cleaborn and to the soldier's family.  It meant a whole lot to black, beige, and brown Memphians to see and hear the soldier's mother and father referred to as "Mr." and "Mrs."  This section of the white South is just getting around to that sort of reference, ya' know...
Since young Cleaborn's last formal schooling was in a class at Booker T. Washington High School, Prof. Blair T. Hunt, principal of the school, suggested that the facilities of the big institution might be appropriate for the presentation.
Mrs. Cleaborn...had stated publicly that she did not want high-ranking Army officers and public figures to bring the award to her shambled residence back over in Bailey's Alley in far South Memphis...didn't want her boy's memory and heroism tarnished by the odors of a back-alley slum...like his life had been. 
So the public was invited to the beautiful, spacious and new Blair T. Hunt Gymnasium...something else new for Memphis...Some 3,500 folk sat in quiet and undemonstrative silence...(Williams, N. D. 25 February 1951. Down on Beale. The Pittsburg Courier, p. 10) 
A new public housing project in Memphis was dedicated and named for Pvt. Cleaborn on November 11, 1954 (Ratcliffe, M. B. 13 November 1954. Memphis Scene. The Pittsburg Courier, p. 16).  Cleaborn Homes was recently demolished and mixed-income housing, renamed Cleaborn Pointe, was constructed in its location.