Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way
Walnut Room? This way, please.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Old Pontotoc County Power Association

The Pontotoc County Electric Power Association was incorporated in 1934 as the second oldest rural electric co-op in the United States (www.pepa.com/land).  Alcorn County in Corinth was first, and Prentiss County in Booneville was third.  In 1936, service was extended to Calhoun County and the name was changed to Pontotoc Electric Power Association.

Operations began at #26/28 Liberty, the gray building in the photo above.  The brick building to the left is #24 Liberty.  The two spaces
...appear to have been built as a single building around the turn of the century...(Sanders & Cawthon, 1993).
Of the building, Sanders and Cawthon revealed that the two-story, half-gable front saw a number of changes since the original estimated date of construction.  The old power building in 1993 was described as
...second floor is divided into three bays by pilasters. These pilasters support a brick denticulated cornice. Set into the reveals formed by the pilasters are three ten-light, metal frame, casement windows.  The first floor storefront was extensively reworked about 1960. The storefront slants back from the sidewalk. The storefront is composed of a yellow brick bulkhead with plate glass windows and a single-leaf glazed aluminum door. To the right of the storefront and parallel to the sidewalk is a six-panel metal door that opens into the stairway leading to the second floor. A brick column at the corner of the building supports the second floor.
The Pontotoc Electric Power Association history indicates the building was remodeled in 2005 as a law office.  The website includes several vintage photographs of the before and after remodeling of the Pontotoc Wholesale Building, where the Association moved in 1950, and the latest remodel of 1988.  Neither of the remodels was an improvement over the original building in my mind.

The site also includes a photograph of the new Bruce office, constructed in 1954 in a modern design, and a photograph of the 2005 remodel, again, not an improvement.

The building on the left, #24 Liberty, still retains its metal frame casement windows on the second floor, but the building was "extensively remodeled around 1945" (Sanders & Cawthon, 1993). The changes included the addition of plate glass windows on the first floor and the aluminum awning.  The photo below shows letters that appear to have been painted at two different times, based on the oddly placed location.  "FEED" and "FARMER" appear on the lower left of the sign, and what appears to possibly be "PONTOTOC" and "CO" are the only letters I can make out on the top row.
The building is currently in use as a county office.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

On the Square at Pontotoc

 Last week, I ventured into some speculation about buildings on West Marion--and was totally off the grid.  Number 16 East Marion is the jewelry store in the center of the photograph above.  It took several wrong turns, and U-turns to uncover this story, but once I get started, I am like a dog with a bone.  Now, that can be a good trait to possess in some areas, but frankly, it can also take a lot of time.  But, there is enough misinformation floating around out in cyberspace, and repetition of misinformation quoted as truth ad nauseam.  I certainly don't want to add that to my list of incompetencies--no one should have more than two things on that list. :-J

 The Mississippi Department of Archives and History database lists the building as circa 1950, no other information.  However, Sanders & Cawthon (1993) reported in the nomination form for the National Register listing of the historic district that Sanborn Fire Insurance maps identifies the building as pre-dating 1898.  They describe the building as a brick, with stucco on the second floor, circa 1950s storefront, and add,
...retains very little architectural character [from 1898].
The Art Deco sign, which Sanders and Cawthon describe as neon, would be consistent with a 1950s remodel.  I love a good sign, no matter what style, but I am particularly enamored of those from the 40s and 50s.  They just seem so much more elegant and appealing--quite a contrast from the ubiquitous portable signs with giant yellow arrows and flashing light bulbs parked in front of every building on the strip.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Do you have confidence in your flour?

Update: See update note at end of post!
 According to WTVA-Tupelo, last summer work was to begin on the restoration of this 1920s-1930s advertising mural. Apparently, "soon" did not mean within the next 4 months, as that has been how long the mural has been waiting since the big news announcement. Oneeta flour was listed in the 1906  Official Gazette of the United States Patent Office, although I can find no other references to it. Note the shape to the left of Confidence Flour? That is supposed to be a lion. Whitworth and Akins, according to WTVA, were a local grocery store.
 Here, the story gets a bit cloudy, in trying to determine which building is which.  The mural is dated to the 1920s-30s by WTVA's story.  The MDAH/Historic Resources Inventory lists 3 buildings on Marion street, 12, which is the white building housing a law office, no date listed.  14 is Russell's, credited to circa 1898, the building with the mural on it.  And there is a 16, dated circa 1950.  Clearly, 14 and 16, which appear to be the same building, cannot be these two separate businesses and one of them 1898 and one 1950 in terms of construction. 18 Marion is the antique store building, to the left of the above building. What am I missing?  Note: MDAH/HRI identifies the antique store building (not visible in this photograph) as built by 1898.  The picture gets even cloudier now!
The Whitworth and Akins families were joined by marriage in the 1920s, so I can speculate that the children's parents were the ones who had the grocery store.  If anyone out there can shed more light on the building, leave a comment, please.
Another follow up note: The mystery (one of them, at least) is solved.  The database does not identify if it is West Marion, or East Marion, but additional sleuthing reveals that the buildings referenced in the database for MDAH/HRI are on East Marion, thus, not applicable to this row of buildings.  See the next post for information about what is really at 16 East Marion!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Yes, I know I said I was back...and then there was that web of life thing.

And, I had every intention of doing so.  But, as my mom used to say, "the road to hell is paved with good intentions."  I have been working on my posts in my spare time, editing the pictures from the road trip, doing the research...but then life got in the way.

First up, was the web of life.  I like the philosophy of Mulberry Shoots, and last week, the post was the web of life.  It resonated with me...and then, Saturday morning, I opened the blinds to notice the raindrops shimmering on...a giant web of life...yes, a perfectly symmetrical spider web...with a giant spider in the midst of it.  Short story, I really don't like spiders.  I can admire the art of the web, the beauty of it, but the creature in the middle?  It just gives me the heebie jeebies.  I recognize and value their role in the ecosystem, and outside, can leave them be.

But, as the Bard said, "here's the rub."  It was right outside my window...and just over the pet door that Libby goes in and out of 15 times a day.  Now, I carefully inspected and noted that the web, while spanning roof to ground, also had a perfect little flat-top vee shape that did not cover the entrance to Libby's pet door.  You see, my first thought was as she would go out, or come in, she would disturb Ms. Queenie, and invoke said female's wrath...that, or she would decide to trot her eight little legs in through the pet door.  That would be more than the heebie jeebies.

So, as the rain poured on Saturday and nothing seemed amiss, I kept thinking about the ecosystem, and the web of life, and making every effort to convince myself why the spider and the web outside my window was no threat to me.  Sunday, it was still there, and I found myself at the window repeatedly, just checking.  Nope, no change in position.  Yep, still the same spider in the center of the web.  I thought of options: can I just gently catch it on the rake and move it to the tree?  Yes, that will destroy the web, but hey, she can build another one--apparently overnight.  Did I mention the fear that she would for whatever reason, trot her eight legs through Libby's door and I would turn around to see her inside the window?  I kept thinking about the post on the web of life...and my commitment to honoring the ecosystem, and doing no harm.  Damn, I hate it when you have to live up to your commitments and actually do that which you say you believe.

And then, Monday morning I opened the blinds...and the spider and the web were both gone.  Does a spider unspin the web when it needs to relocate?  Did some bat or bird intervene?  This is even creepier, because now I don't know where she is, or why.  I looked high and low inside and out.  Nope, no sign.

Was it a sign that when I moved to acceptance, and released the need to intervene, that the universe took care of the problem for me?  I know many times in my life once I have surrendered, I have received that which I desired.  Or, am I just seeking a sign because it makes sense to me and I need to understand it that way?

Sometimes, I understand why Native Americans call it the "sickness of the long thinking."

Monday, October 15, 2012

I'm baaaaaccccckkkkkk!

I'll have a post this evening!  Road trip!  I actually made a road trip!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

On Living Life One-Sided

I have been pretty much out of balance since mid-August.  Not unhappy, or in trouble out-of-balance, but just one-sided for the most part.  Two things occurred: the addition of Abby to our home, and returning to work with the fall semester and a changed job.  Between those two major changes, many things that were and still are important to me have been moved--not to the back burner, which would imply they are there simmering, but still cooking--but to the cold storage pantry.

I have not had time to do any road trips for photography, so in addition to the postponement of Suzassippi's Mississippi editions on Preservation in Mississippi, which was one of my most cherished opportunities, I have had no opportunity for the posts here or on Red Shutters.  The time between posts seems to stretch further and further apart.

My logical self knows and reminds me that things will level out and I will be able to return to my "regular" routine at some point.  My emotional self just whines, "But when?"  I was in Mound Bayou Wednesday, and took my camera.  I had looked up nearby towns for a reasonable detour on the way home after what I assumed would be an hour or hour and a half meeting.  There were a couple of places near Clarksdale that I have wanted to check out.

The expected hour or so turned into an entire day, and while I was totally immersed in the task and enjoying the relationships and the excitement of the planning, when I left at 3:30 with an hour and a half drive ahead of me, it was a no brainer to make a right turn at Clarksdale and head home.  My head has been spinning ever since, and I have had vital and exciting conversations with my colleagues about the next steps following the meeting with folks in Mound Bayou.  It generated an air of...what can I call it?  More than just excitement, more than enthusiasm and optimism, more like a sense of what is possible for us as we move further into our work with this community, and for me, as I learn a greater depth of what I don't know and what I need to know, and lean on my friends and colleagues at work to help me with that.

A long time ago, Roberta Greene said, "How do you get to know a community?  Slowly...over a long period of time."  I have been reminded of that so many times in my community work.  My trip to Mound Bayou was for the purpose of finding out what the team of people I work with there saw as the priorities for the next steps.  There is the possibility of a small interdisciplinary grant for "seed work" that shows promising outcomes and potential for external funding.  As my colleagues and friends in Mound Bayou crystallized those next steps and helped define the outcomes we could produce in a year that would tie into the long-range vision of this rising city, it was reaffirmation that in any work in any community, we are a resource, but we are not in the driver's seat--not if we want to be effective and we want to partner in a meaningful way.

One can see failed efforts all over the Delta (and certainly, other locations, too) where an agency or group came into a community to implement a program designed to meet the needs of a community and yet it either did not address the perceived needs of the community, or people declined to use it.  And sadly, or more accurately to me, angrily, many of those so-called efforts have been intentionally designed to benefit the providers, not the community.  It's what one of my colleagues calls "pimping out the Delta"--gaining resources to provide service and yet none of the benefits actually reach the community in need, but stay in the pockets of the developers.

So, when I think about the above, and the renewed sense of self I felt after that day in Mound Bayou, watching a community continuing to control its destiny and determination to continue rising from every setback they have ever experienced, perhaps even if my life is one-sided these days, the one side that is available is the most meaningful.  I watch daily as Abby is learning she doesn't get her leash until she sits, she doesn't get to go outside until she sits, and what wonderful treats (petting, belly-rubbing, ear-scratching) she gets when she lies by my side, and then see her look at me with affection and trust, knowing that we saved her from probable death, that one-sided part of my life is worth the inconvenience it has brought with it.  And finally, as I spend most of my days at my desk in the office, working toward understanding better how to educate social workers by addressing our current challenges, endlessly reviewing and writing curriculum, assessing outcomes, and meeting after meeting, I find myself renewed in that challenge, too.  I am reminded that leadership demands sacrifices, but implemented well, carries its own reward in the outcomes.

Perhaps one-sided is not the most accurate description these days.  Maybe it's just living fully-dimensional means that for now, I don't do much in the way of road trips, photography, and writing about buildings.  Sometimes, it's good to focus on what you have and appreciate the gifts it brings.