Walnut Room this way

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

Sunday, October 27, 2013

YMCA...the building, not the song

 The YMCA in Breckenridge, Texas was built in the early 1920s.  It was designed by architect Wiley G. Clarkson & Company.  Mr. Clarkson also designed the former First National Bank building in Breckenridge.  A black and white photograph of the building shortly after construction is on the Clarkson website.  It is the second photograph, so you will need to scroll down to view it.
 E. A. "Ed" Landreth, a Fort Worth oilman, although I can find no indication of whether he first lived in Breckenridge as an oilman, was
...largely responsible for the fact that Breckenridge has the magnificent Y.M.C.A. building that is pointed to with considerable pride by every citizen... (Breckenridge Daily American, 7(184), February 6, 1927)
 The building was designed with separate entrances for Men and Boys.  On certain occasions, women and girls were permitted use of the building.  Its current use is as a gym.


 I love the beautiful detail on the top of the pilasters that stretch up the front facade.  My intention was to drive to the opposite side of the street to get a front elevation view, as the street had no light for crossing, is wide, and made of brick that is somewhat uneven.  In getting sidetracked with the post office and the rear elevation of the courthouse, I completely forgot about parking across the street on my way out of town.  Til next time, then...

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Breckenridge, Texas New Deal Post Office

 I love the fact that as I go deeper into the research on the New Deal administration projects that I can often surmise which towns might have one, and which buildings are the most likely candidate.  On my recent trip through Breckenridge, I decided to look up the post office, and yes, another good hunch.  This 1934 post office reflects a Spanish Colonial style common in parts of Texas.  The design style is also seen in post offices in the southwest.
 It is the only two-story post office I have seen in Texas, other than the ones in large cities that also combined the post office with a federal courthouse.  Not to say others don't exist, just that I have not seen one.
 This ell on the west end of the building houses the postmaster's office.


 An intricate Greek key design adorns the base of the lamp post pedestal.



 This is also the first cornerstone I have run across with Von Nerta as the supervising engineer.  Most of them have been Neal A. Melick, who also worked with Simon during the latter half of the 30s and in 1940.  In fact, this post office may be one of the earliest ones I have seen from this period, though I would have to check them all in order to confirm that speculation.
 Like many other post offices during this decade, it retains the original wooden entry vestibule.  Anyone who has lived through a blustery winter and spring in Texas appreciates the gesture.
 The intricate iron work detail is not clearly evident from this angle, but the earlier photograph of the external window in front of the stairs gives a better idea of the design.

 I am going to have to head out on the road again, though, and in a different direction this time.  More historic New Deal post offices are out there waiting to be documented.  Is there one in your town?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Bank of Bolivar

 The historic Bank of Bolivar, Tennessee building dates from the late 1800s-1903, depending on which of the (very few) sources one uses.  The building was damaged during a fire in 2007 that destroyed the block between the bank and the post office.
 Its most recent use at the time of the fire was home to the WMOD-FM station after the bank merger which ended the Bank of Bolivar's long run from its establishment in 1886.
 I surmised (I am a great surmiser) that the boarded window could have been a later addition of a drive-through window, but after learning the building next door had burned to the ground, I am thinking there might not have been space for a drive-through.  Maybe someone out there in Bolivar or Hardeman County knows the answer.  The building is part of the Bolivar Court Square Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places, but I have not been able to turn up the nomination form.

Sources: Hardeman County, Tennessee: Family History Volume II. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company.
Hardeman Tennessee Genealogy Collections. Bolivar Historic Walking Tour.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Bolivar, Tennessee Post Office and Mural

 On the off chance that the Bolivar post office was built by a New Deal program, I stopped off on our September return from Franklin.  This Colonial Revival is a twin to several in Mississippi, so I knew I hit jackpot as soon as I saw it.
 The golden eagle sculpture over the entry doors and the fluted columns are both trademarks of this particular style during that era.
 Howard Hull (Tennessee Post Office Murals, 1996) said the red-bricked Colonial Revival style "complements the town's many historic nineteenth-century buildings."  The WPA work crews erected the building in 1940.
 And, could I be so fortunate as to find a mural in the post office?  Why, yes, I could be so fortunate.  The interior retains its wooden vestibule entry like others of this design.
 Marble wainscoting was another feature found in this era of post offices.
 Carl Nyquist's Picking Cotton mural was installed in 1941, and covers the entire wall above the postmaster's door.  The mural is 13 feet 6 inches wide and 5 feet high--one of the larger ones I have come across in my search.  Apparently, little is known of Nyquist other than that he was living in Washington, DC at the time he painted the mural.  He was not a well-known artist, though his work was described in rather glowing terms by Hull:
The mural, a reflection of the long, flat cotton fields of the area, is an outstanding example of representational art, from the light brown earth color to the clothes the people are wearing.  When looking at the painting, one can see a row of low hills in the distance that forms a horizon line while closer up, pickers work at the never-ending task of filling the large sacks.  Rows of cotton plants march from back to front, providing a rhythmic beat to the composition.  Clouds invade the clear blue of the sky, mimicking the soft, white cotton.  In the right corner is a house fronted by two Lombardy poplars, and farther back there is a barn where two horses wait to be hooked to a cotton wagon nearby.
Eight people stretch across the field in various positions reflecting their endeavors, or, in two cases, lack of endeavors, as is evidenced by the young woman in the bonnet on the far left.  She stares into space, perhaps dreaming of another time and place, the cotton sack only an ornament at her side.  There is also a younger blonde girl on the right who isn't working.  She seems to have been placed in the painting to add youth and as a shape to balance the composition.  The only other woman in the picture works diligently alongside the men as they extract the cotton from the plants. 
While the painting is well executed and enjoyable to look at, it may seem a bit misleading to some.  It is generally understood that people don't pick cotton from fresh, green plants.  The time appears to be more like midsummer than autumn.  Since the overall color system is predominantly on the cool side, the green, however, works better as a color for the painting, and that after all is what is important.
Hull continued that the clothing worn was a further indication of the historic properties of the mural.  He asserted that women still wore long cotton dresses in the fields in the early 1930s, the time of the painting.  He added that during the Depression years, people in agriculture were sometimes better off than others, and "entire families of small landowners congregated in the fields to harvest..."

A personal note here, none of the women in my mother's families were still wearing long dresses in the fields in the 1930s; Texas women working in the fields would wear men's trousers or mid-calf length skirts.  I will also note that even though my mother's and my father's families were "small landowners" raising cotton, they clearly were not among the 'better off.'  I recall Papa saying he waited in line with a shovel to dig ditches.  I suppose better off is relative, as they had chickens, cows, pigs, and vegetable gardens, and thus, at least had milk, eggs, and vegetables, with the occasional meat if you had enough extra animals to slaughter one--particularly a chicken which could be replenished easier than could cows or pigs.
Carroll Van West, on the other hand, criticized Nyquist's rendition for other reasons.  He described the buildings in the background as tenant housing, and that while the painting is "plausible" it is also "misleading."  Unlike Hull, Van West asserts the portrayal is misleading due to race and gender roles.  First of all, Van West provided citation that 70% of Hardeman County farm operators were tenants, and that black farmers were twice as likely to be tenant farmers as were whites.  He further asserted that the Treasury Section officials asked him to verify there were white tenant farmers before giving approval.  He also indicates that the depiction of women was "problematic."

Van West points to the young girl being "well-dressed, with combed hair and no head covering--far from the reality of child labor in the cotton fields."  I can attest to Texas girls would have been wearing a wide-brimmed hat or bonnet, and long sleeves, particularly those who were blonde, while outside working. 
 The adult women are shown as distracted and of little help to the men when the opposite was true: tenant women worked as hard in the fields as their husbands, brothers, or sons.
To give the artist his due, however, his mural is the only extant one in the South to show a white woman actually picking cotton.
I am thinking the truth might lie somewhere in between these two extremes.  I agree that the women, and the girl, would have been wearing protection against the sun.  Before "tan" became so important to women, fair-skinned women knew that sun produced freckles and wrinkles and it was avoided. 

Apparently, Van West makes the case for tenant farmers with the Hardeman County statistics, and yes, all women worked hard in the fields--not just tenants.  My maternal grandfather was a landowner, raising cotton and wheat, and his wife, and his eldest daughter (my mother) worked in the fields alongside him, and in his place when he was able to secure outside work for wages.  Because the young woman is momentarily "daydreaming" can we assume she is of no help?  Perhaps she, as my grandmother did, looked to the edge of the field to ensure her children were still in the shade on the blanket, napping.  Perhaps she indeed sighed, and dreamt of a time when she might not be picking cotton.

What's your take on the mural?

Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Friday but there is no weekend coming

...unless you count Sunday when I will head back to Mississippi for at least a week, maybe more.  No, things are not that much better here, in fact, they are worse.  I had just about the worst day of my life--or if not the worst, it ranks right on up there with the other one--yesterday.  Without going into detail, just be aware that narcotic pain medication in an 88-year-old man who is already frail and with decreased cognitive functioning, the hallucinations are a bear. 

Good news is Dad has been able to move his leg without screaming in pain, and is even doing some exercises, bending it, lifting it, and can shift himself in the bed now to reposition, without assistance.  Small miracles for which to be grateful.  When someone is working with him like in therapy, he is more lucid, and does pretty well.

The other good news is that our caregiver is back for this next week, and we have lined up enough temporary help that I can go home this week.  I will have to return in another week or maybe two, but can be prepared for travel this time, and we don't want to waste my leave time when we have the help.   And there is that issue of I do have a job to do and when I am not there doing it, someone else has to fill in for me.  Ever since I got to Mississippi in 2003, however, there has not been a semester that I have not covered for someone, including teaching anywhere from a few weeks to half a semester when something happened.  I kind of feel like I have earned it through my contributions, even if I did not have leave to which I am entitled.  We are good to help each other--guess it is the nature of our profession. 

 My job for today is to dig a dry well and trench it out so we can do a gravel fill.  Yes, ecology methods were active "in the country" before they became so popular with environmentalists.  But, like all things country, nothing lasts forever.  And, like I said before, we each have our talents.  Mine lie in this arena when I am here.  While I have been an effective social worker, and have worked with many patients in facilities who are far more impaired than Dad right now, those skills are not generally workable in a family--particularly one in which the patient knows you are his daughter even in his hallucinations, and thus, just wants you to do what he asked you to do, which is totally impossible when you cannot see the lever or cable or brake he wants you to pull, push, or whatever.  Pretty frustrating for both of us.

The rain is beginning, so it looks like I have a reprieve from digging a dry well--but that is only going to make the need for it that much greater.  I might just have to put on Dad's rain gear and go dig it anyway.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Sunday morning in Cowboy Church parking lot

It has been quite a few years since Mom and Dad joined Cowboy Church.  Cowboy Church is ubiquitous all over the US, in rodeo arenas.  I don't know when it really started, but I recall the one in Abilene, near our house.  Arena functions were always going on during the weekend, and the parking lot would be lined with horse trailers.  I went to church here with Mom and Dad a few times, and posted about it once or twice.  Even though they have been unable to attend since Dad's auto accident in December and the steep continued decline since then, the pastor and members are faithful to visit and to pray for the family.  The pastor came yesterday to the hospital, and Dad was in a lucid moment and could even accurately tell him what the doctor had said.

I think there is something about the simplicity of Cowboy Church (I am speaking of the one here, which is the only one I know from experience) that is appealing to many.  Most of them are in simple tin pre-fab buildings, with simple furnishings and depend heavily upon the concept of relationship.  Like any church, they are not perfect, and there are always issues with which to be dealt, but they are mostly common folk, working folk, and because they tend to draw people like my parents, people who have some pretty deeply rooted values about how things ought to be.  Cowboys, ranchers, farmers, laborers.  When things are good, they celebrate.  When things are rough, they join together to help.  It reminds me of the small rural communities in which my grandparents lived and that form a backbone of my idea of community and relationship.

Sis and I arose early, and she left for the hospital and I went out to feed.  A gentle mist is everywhere, and slight sprinkle beginning.  I decided to run on over to the church and check Bro's fuel gauge and Smart Reefer screen.  (And yes, I think I am just liking to say "Smart Reefer" mostly). The diesel was running, all is well, and I sent a report to Bro.  I stood there a few minutes, looking at the simple building, surrounded by the arena, a few industrial buildings, and listening to the quiet morning.  The creak of Dad's windmill was the only other sound outside the diesel motor and my breathing.  Time to slow down the whirlwind of things that occupy our minds and just appreciate the miraculousness of life, regardless of all the things we create to interfere with it.

Back at the house, I sat down to drink a cup of coffee.  For a moment, I thought I needed to start the washing machine (still trying to catch up after days of things in turmoil since Thursday when Dad fell and no one being here long enough to do it) and realized that the laundry will be there in a minute, but this quiet moment to reflect would not.  Writing often is my quiet reflection, a way of working out my thoughts and emotions.  It has always been that way for me, from the time I was 8 and began to write, keep a diary or journal, and write fiction, poetry, and essays.  As a young adolescent, I would slip into my closet with a shielded candle and write after everyone went to bed at night.

Dad fought wild dogs and looked for Tinka most of the night.  They are weaning him off the morphine and have him on a pain medication that has caused hallucinations.  The doctor said the pain management will be the most dangerous and difficult part in the next few months.  Dad has seldom taken even an aspirin most of his life--partly due to a deep-rooted belief that one just toughs it out and gets on with it.  In the midst of the excruciating pain Thursday in the Trauma Center, his comment was "Doug, it's pretty rough going."

Pretty rough going has been the norm around here the last year.  November 9 marks the first year anniversary of the passing of Sis' husband from results, partly, of cancer caused by Agent Orange exposure in Vietnam.  He had not been gone long when Dad was in the accident, and then the Alzheimer's began, the aortal aneurysm, and the beginning decline.  Up until the accident, Dad at 87 had still been lifting those sacks of horse feed and stacking them by himself--a task I cannot accomplish alone at many years younger.  But then, Dad did that kind of work all his life.

As much meaning as my work has given me, and particularly in the last 10 years since I have been in Mississippi, I find immense meaning in what I am doing here in my family at the moment, and a part of me wishes I could be here all the time right now during the significant need.  The steadiness of feeding and caring for animals and people who depend upon you, the steadiness of the day's routine from early morning til late night is comforting and healing.  Sometimes, it makes the petty issues and struggles of some things recede into the background.  There is an overwhelming desire to say "Just stop it!" to a lot of folks--at work, in Congress, in the corporations.  I guess that is the good thing about a crisis:  the dangerous opportunity to learn.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Smart Reefers and Other New Skills I Acquired Today



 I have acquired a new skill set today!  And, of course, "refreshed" ones I had already mastered eons ago.  Rio was at the gate this morning when I went out, and Jenny in her spot right behind him.  After I filled their water trough, I checked the hay as the grass is starting to thin.  They still had a full hay container, as they are not yet ready for hay with the grass still green and available.
The pasture is filled with Mexican sage in bloom, and looks so pretty.  One year in Abilene I bought a bunch of it in the plant nursery, then came home and found our pasture full of it.  Yep, they actually sell a weed in the store and I was silly enough to buy it. 
 
Sometime since my last trip here, Sis found this watercolor drawing of Dad that one of our cousin's did years ago after a visit.  He must have been in his late 40s, or maybe early 50s as his hair (and his glasses) were both black.

After I finished feeding and watering, I had to go pick up feed before the feed store closed.  Yes, you can get 4 bags of feed in the hatch of my Lexus.  The really fun part was getting them back out again.  I really had to question why someone invented the wheelbarrow--with only one front wheel that wobbles when it is loaded with horse feed.  I took one sack over, and was able to maneuver it up on the stand we keep the feed on.  Then I tried taking two bags over--was not a good idea, but I managed.  I left them in the wheelbarrow for my brother.  I was able to get the last bag out and walk it over to the chair just inside the barn and get it up off the floor.  I need about 6 weeks of this kind of work to get back in shape for this kind of work.
I stopped by to check on his trailer gauges for him this morning on the way to get feed.  This is my newly acquired skill--I watched him check it last night when I picked him up after he got here and parked.  My folks' church is across the road from us, and they let him park his truck there when he stops in for a visit while enroute somewhere.  His company routed him through here on his way to his next unload, allowing him a 2-day layover since his load is not due until Monday morning.  He is a conscientious, careful, and experienced driver, and these days, that apparently goes a long way.
 
 
I was a little panicky when I stopped to check and did not hear the diesel running like it was last night.  I sent the photo of the reefer gauge and told him I did not hear the motor.  He asked me to check the small tank next to the landing gear and see what it read.  Hmmm...landing gear...well, on a plane, that is the wheels down...then I spotted the gears that you use to stabilize the trailer when you drop a load.  Is this it?  The gauge was barely off full, and at that moment, the diesel kicked on.  It seems that a smart reefer, like most of trucks these days, is computerized to do what it needs to do while conserving fuel, and for that matter, pollution and noise.  Everything is electronic!  Well, not everything--he still shifts gears, and most important of all when driving a huge semi-tractor trailer that is heavy, and big, he also thinks.  I have deep respect for his knowledge and skills, and watching him handle his truck, back the tractor into a trailer and hook the connection perfectly every single time, and drive all over the US with out causing an accident, and in fact, twice, his smart-thinking and skill preventing an accident when another driver was at fault has earned him a well-deserved reputation and safety awards .  One year in Dallas, a truck lost control on the freeway when the brakes failed, and it rammed into my brother's truck.  Bro was able to maneuver his truck and the other truck across two lanes of traffic without involving any other vehicles.  The patrolman working the accident said he had no idea how Bro had been able to do that.

I know there are many truckers who are not safe, and pose a danger.  I learned a long time ago to keep a critical eye out around them, and be prepared to yield.  Right or wrong, a truck traveling at highway speed has far less control of the vehicle than I do, and I do my best to recognize the extra distance they require, to avoid their blind spots, and to yield even if one is about to do something stupid, like change lanes right in front of me.  I have no intention of playing chicken with those guys or women when winning would be losing.  In return, it is rare for me to encounter a driver who does not recognize and respect that I do that, and acknowledge me for it.  It is kind of like one of my little cosmic karma validations.

The rest of the day was filled with funny moments, a lot of physical work, a smidgen of rest, and doing our best to take care of the parents who taught us to be who we are, and to take care of each other taking care of them.  I may not be as smart as a smart reefer, and I may not be tough enough to unload 4 bags of feed and stack them without help, but by golly, when we were all sitting in Dad's room and he was smiling and happy and laughing with his three children and their mother, it made it all worthwhile.  We know we have a long road in front of us, with no certainty--as indeed, there is in much of life.  But when you travel uncharted territory, it's good to do it with folks who have your back.

Friday, October 11, 2013

And I'm back in Texas again...

I was headed to Jackson Thursday morning for a series of meetings important to social work education in Mississippi, when just out of Canton, I got a call from my sister.  The inevitable had happened, and Dad had fallen and broken his hip.  She was with my mother at the hospital for an early morning procedure, the caregiver had been in the room with Dad when he stood up from his chair, and just crumpled to the floor.  He was at the Trauma Center, and I said I was on my way to Texas.  I just kept going West when I hit Jackson.  Of course, when I left home that morning, I did not intend not to be back home that night.  I had the clothes I was wearing.  I mentally calculated what all I had left at Mom's a little over a week earlier, and what I knew I could borrow from her.  Oops...medications.  One good thing about using a chain like Walgreen's is something like that.  A stop in Shreveport, and in 20 minutes I had refills, and while waiting picked up make-up and my OTC meds.

By 9:30 that night--12 hours from leaving home to drive to Jackson for the day, I was pulling into the Walmart in Graham to get a phone charger, then stopped at the hospital where my sister was staying with Dad.  It was a hard thing to see, and anyone who has ever had an elderly parent experience that kind of pain understands that.  While he was on pain medication, they were prepping him for surgery, and every movement was excruciating.  Finally, they finished and he was able to rest.  I stayed a bit with my sister, and then headed out to the house where my niece was with mom.  It was a sleepless night, what with the wired feeling of having driven 12 straight hours stopping only twice for a quick pit stop, and worry.  I finally drifted off around 2:30 and woke at 5:30.  A quick shower and dress in the clothes I had washed last night, and up to the hospital in time to see Dad for a minute before they wheeled into OR.

Today has been a full day with rotating off times at the hospital and times home to take care of Mom.  My brother arrived tonight, after having driven from Tyler to Nacodoches and then back to Dallas and here since this morning.  A quick shower and food, and he was off to the hospital for the night shift, and hope Sis would come home to get some rest.  I will be surprised if she will.  We seem to compliment each other though, as I do better with taking care of Mom, the house, and the animals and errands, and Sis does better at keeping Dad calm in the hospital.

When I took supper up to her tonight, Dad was awake and in a good mood, and seemed to enjoy bantering with us for a while.  His color had come back, and he was eating well.  The worst part will be managing the pain over the next few weeks, and of course, he wants to be home now!  My friends provided emotional support via phone and text and email, which helps to make things seem doable in the face of overwhelming circumstances and difficult, unknowable questions about the future.

Once again, it reminded me of how blessed I am, and how fortunate to have family who will do anything it takes, when it takes anything.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Old Oxford Municipal Airport and Airport Grocery

 I ran across a WPA properties listing on the MDAH Historic Resources Inventory months ago, which listed the (old) Oxford Airport, and a description of the work as "original building."  I had naively assumed it was the airport near the university, and went out one day to locate the "original building" only to find nothing that remotely resembled anything built in the 1930s.  While working on research today, I just typed old municipal airport Oxford Mississippi into Google, and what popped up?  Paul Freeman's great site Abandoned and Little Known Airfields: Northwestern Mississippi.  That is more information about the old Municipal Airport constructed by the Works Progress Administration (and its current use) than I have been able to find searching for weeks and weeks.  According to Mr. Freeman, the hangar was remodeled in 2011 by adding new siding and raising the roof.  The building in the left foreground would most likely be that original hangar, based on the pre-2011 photographs provided on the website.

Do you know how many times I have driven past this location (south of Oxford on Highway 7, just past the 9W cutoff toward Water Valley) in the years from 2003-2011?  Me neither, but there I was driving past history with no idea what I was seeing.
 The windsock remains at one of the sites of a former runway.  Freeman indicates the first reference to the airfield was in the 1937 Airport Directory, which also described construction of a new runway in progress.  The 1967 Minute Book No. 23, City of Oxford City Council meetings minutes recorded that the city owned the old airport property on Murray Creek (p. 195) which runs behind this view of the airfield site, along the tree line visible.  Freeman reported the old airport closed sometime between 1965-82, for unknown reasons.  The minutes would support at least prior to 1967.
 Freeman also mentioned the Airport Grocery across the highway.  Because there is no other building directly across the road from the site that could be a structure that old, I concluded that the old "Mary's Grocery" which was still operational for a while after we moved here in 2003 is the old Airport Grocery.
 Remember when service racks were located outside, next door to a "filling station?"  We even spotted one that is still operational in Van Buren, Arkansas a few years ago, outside and next to an old Shell station.
Does anyone else remember Marilyn Chambers, the mother pictured on the box of Ivory Snow?  If you do, you'll know why I asked the question using this photograph.  Shhh....it dates us.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Strand Theatre, Louisville

 Yesterday over on Red Shutters, I posted about the beautiful and historic Ellis Theatre in Philadelphia.  Today, we visit the Strand in Louisville.  The renovation won the Mississippi Main Street Association Best Facade for Rehabilitation over $5,000 award for Belinda Stewart Architects.
 The building was constructed by Livingston & Wicker in 1927 according to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory database.  The Winston County website identified it as constructed in 1923.
 There are a total of six doors across the front elevation.  The doors at each side of the building led upstairs, and the two glass doors most likely to some type of office, or possibly a concession, and the doors on either side of the ticket booth to the lobby area.

I was somewhat curious about the Swastika symbol, the equilateral cross with four arms, bent at 90 degree angles, although there have been variations in the placement of the arms.  It is a Sanscript symbol meaning "it is good", and was used around the world for over 3,000 years, as far back as 1,000 years BC (Rosenberg, n.d.), and antedates the adoption of it by the Nazi party of Germany in the 1920s.  It was originally associated with life, sun, and good fortune, but took on a negative association with the rise to power of Adolf Hitler in Germany.
I wonder how many theatres in the United States were named the Strand? What was the name of the theatre in your hometown?

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Stephens County Courthouse rear elevation

 Back in 2011, I posted about the Stephens County Courthouse, in Breckenridge, Texas.  Last week as I was returning to Graham from Abilene, I had stopped off to take a photograph of the historic YMCA building and had parked on a side street.  Turning back around to get to the next stop involved going around the block, and I noticed--for the first time ever in all of my travels through this town--that the backside of the courthouse was very interesting and detailed, albeit of course less ornate than the front.
 I wonder how often we miss the rear of a building--either from lack of access, or just assuming it is not worthy of a visit.  I did learn from E L Malvaney when I first started this hobby (architectural history and preservation) about the importance of going backside for important clues.
 Architect David S. Castle of Abilene designed the courthouse, constructed in 1926, in a Texas Renaissance style--a combination of Classical Revival and Renaissance Revival with Texas elements.  The Texas elements are not as apparent on the rear of the building, but include the Texas state flag, and a Texas star.  You can take a look at the front elevation photos and detail for greater emphasis on the Texas details.


 As are present on the front windows, the names of rulers are etched over the top of windows.  Texas Escapes refers to Hammurabi as the Egyptian "father of architecture."  I was unable to locate that exact term, but did find references that indicate Hammurabi was
...responsible for first known written code of building regulation. (Performance Concept, Canadianarchitecture.com)
Hammurabi, who was clearly a lot more famous for his code of laws, specified
If an architect builds a house which collapses or kills its owner, the architect shall be put to death.
I am going to speculate that since he was a ruler, and prolific lawmaker of strict laws, that he was more suitably dubbed the "father of architectural regulations."  Any Hammurabi scholars out there, or architects, please fill us in!

Titus was a Roman emperor, most noted during his short reign for his generosity in the provision of aid after the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.  Maybe he drew the back window because he had such a short political life.  On the other hand, one could wish that some of our leaders today also had a bit of a shorter run in the political arena--a little bit of some of them goes a long way.