Walnut Room this way

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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Mount Pleasant Golf Course: The WPA and Perry Maxwell

 The original design of golf architect Perry Maxwell is still in use at the Mount Pleasant County Club, Mount Pleasant, Texas (countryclubmtpleasant.com).  Many of the some 300-600--exact counts vary--(Shackelford, G. 2009, Part of the solution? Golf Digest. Retrieved from http://www.golfdigest.com/golf-tours-news/2009-01/gw20090119shackelford) golf courses constructed by the New Deal Administration were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), but some were built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) (wpamurals.com), including the one in our neighbor state, City Park, New Orleans.

Of Perry Maxwell, Chris Clouser said:
Maxwell is one of the more unsung golf architects and designers of his generation. (Clouser, C. (n.d.) Perry Maxwell: The Master of the Plains. USGA/US Amateur. Retrieved from http://www.usamateur.org/news/maxwell.html) 
 This screenshot of Google Maps shows the original nine-hole layout of Maxwell's design for Mount Pleasant.  Yesterday, I mentioned that Rand had commented on use of the WPA to build golf courses and country clubs.  One might think this was an elitist use of the program and funding, but there were good reasons for building golf courses, just as there were good reasons for employing artists to put art within the community of ordinary people--a legacy we still enjoy today in our post offices across the nation--well, still enjoy until the completion of the destruction of the US Postal Service and the buildings that belong to the Post Office.
Looking toward hole # 1 at Mount Pleasant, I wonder what Perry Maxwell was thinking about use of the natural terrain.  If you are like me, you have never heard of Perry Maxwell, or, given much thought to golf and golf courses.  Maxwell, whose parents were Scottish though he was born in Kentucky, was a banker devastated by the Great Depression (Shackelford).  He traveled to Scotland to study the golf courses where the game originated, and learned how to "incorporate the naturalistic elements" (Shackelford).  Golf was originally played in the pastures and rural areas of Scotland, by common folks, and the links made use of the natural terrain which was part of the challenge (http://www.pasturegolf.com/archive/wpa_courses.htm).  The game focused on the challenge of the course and the pleasure of the game.  Pasture golf courses and games are in existence, and I could not help but think of Tundra Golf in Unalaska, and have a renewed appreciation and respect for the sport.
(You can see all six of the posts about Tundra Golf Classic in Unalaska here.)

How about it, ya'll?  Any pasture golf courses near you?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Pegasus over El Dorado

Downtown El Dorado, Arkansas is eye candy.  I know I dissed them a couple of years ago when the service station where I had just gassed up my car had no restroom, and the convenience store down the road where I stopped for water and snacks had no restroom.  All is forgiven because downtown makes up for those less than hospitable folks on the last trip.  In fact, I think this would make a great destination for a few days of relaxing, shopping, eating, and taking photographs.

I had plotted out New Deal Administration buildings from Texarkana to the Mississippi River as we had decided to take the Delta route home.  We left Mount Pleasant, Texas this morning with a--pardon the pun--pleasant surprise of finding out the golf course was a WPA project, designed by Perry Maxwell, who designed a number of WPA golf courses.  (I know, Rand said the same thing--the WPA built golf courses and country clubs?)  I will have to do some research on that to further comment, but the MPCC website credits Maxwell, as does http://pasturegolf.com/archive/wpa_courses.htm.
While photographing the Union County Courthouse, I noticed Pegasus flying over the building across the street.  He (or she) is a recreation by the Wolf Sign Company from Louisiana.  The story of the Pegasus sign can be read here.

We had a great week in Texas, with lots of opportunities to be with family and friends, but as always, it is good--really good--to be back in Lottabusha County.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Abilene Visit

After a wonderful night of sleep for the first time since Monday, I am enjoying my coffee, looking out at the blue sky in our friend's backyard. He set out a coffee cup for me before he left for work-- one of the ones I brought him from the Gugulethu pottery in South Africa on one of my research trips.

After arrival, we headed over to Farm and Ranch to look for the boots I want--black with turquoise stitching.

They had a million pair of brown with turquoise stitching, and none that were black. I found a pair of turquoise that were gorgeous, but impractical, and a pair of black that had turquoise inlay-- better, but still not what I wanted. I will say that the design of boots has changed drastically since the last pair I bought (which are still holding up fine some 15+ years later).
After dinner at my favorite hole-in-the-wall restaurant, Los Arcos, in the barrio (that's neighborhood) where I used to do a lot of work, we relaxed for a bit. While Rand slept every night and late every morning while at my folks and I was up all hours caregiving, cooking, cleaning, it was my turn last night and this morning...and it feels great!

Yesterday morning I had to get a new bale of hay open.  Short story is I have one smashed finger, one fingernail into the quick, and two fingers with a bloody pulp at the cuticle, all due to getting caught in the baling wire. (and, yes, Rand, I WAS wearing gloves--the big heavy leather ones I wear all the time--you know, the ones I had on when you went outside with me to watch me break ice off the water trough--duh.)

Dad said, "I always stopped in the shop and got the wire cutters, then put them back."  Sis sais, "I just left them in the window of the hay barn last winter." I said, "Thank ya'll; I will be sure to do that next time." I was bandaging my fingers at the time.

And, speaking of time, it is time to get in the shower and dress--I have lolly gagged enough for one day.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from Tinka

What is the saying, "the best laid plans...?"  After a non-sleep night Monday, I slept well last night.  I woke and all was quiet, so I (in error as it turns out) thought Dad and Sis were still sleeping, too.  I went back to sleep.  I finally woke and smelled bacon, and arose to find out Dad had not slept at all last night, and Sis had not much.  They had been up since 5 (as in out of bed, not awake) and Dad was having breakfast.

I went out to feed, and noted it will be a beautiful day, and hopefully, not as windy as yesterday.  Our nieces, one of their husband's, their mother and her brother, were all supposed to come to dinner.  Husband had to work in the middle of the day shift unexpectedly, so they will come later this evening.  Their mom has flu, so not only can she and her brother not come, neither can the other niece--can't risk bringing flu in to Mom and Dad, and especially Dad who hardly has enough energy to breathe and walk without being compromised.

So, now it is just us...which may be a good thing as Dad not having slept is rather cranky so far today.  He normally has a pretty good humor, but as our daytime caregiver would say, "Did someone take his tacky pill this morning?"  But, like everything these days, it will pass...and perhaps we will all get naps this afternoon--after fixing the t-post in the pasture by the creek.  It may be a good day to do that for a bit of respite if you know what I mean.

Meanwhile, the sun is shining, and we live to fight another day--not as in violence, but the will to get up and do all over again what we just did.  Around here, that is like girding for battle and praying for the stamina to continue a while longer, whatever the outcome.  Still, we are a year beyond where we were this time last year when a vehicle broadsided Dad and flipped his truck, starting this whole saga.  We have made it through some rough times in the past 12 months--that is a pretty good present.

Merry Christmas from Rio's pasture

 Rio was waiting for me this morning in the frosty sunlight--happy to see me again, and nickering softly as I held out his handful of grain.  The grain barrel was almost empty and I had to dump a new bag of feed before I could get enough for the morning feed--no easy task to do when it is below freezing and your hands don't want to work well.  It was a rough go to break ice on the water as well, but I finally got it free enough to enable drinking, and of course, the sunshine and 60 degrees melted it off later in the morning.

For some reason, the hay was so tightly packed that I had a hard time breaking the bale loose to get a slap on the pitchfork, but finally managed that task as well.  I filled the hay trough, and the next difficult chore was trying to get the gate re-locked as by then my fingers were really cold and having a hard time with opening and closing the clasp on the chain.  Definitely easier to take care of horses in the summer and spring time.
Tonight, seeing as how it was Christmas Eve, I made the Apple Skillet Cake again, using the molasses in white sugar to make my own super moist brown sugar.  It looked similar, only slightly different, and had the caramel-like texture and taste again.  It was not exactly the same, but definitely much closer than the Mississippi version.  Dad suggested that I make it again soon, so as not to mar the test by allowing too much time to lapse between versions.  I can appreciate his desire to ensure we are as objective and scientific as possible in the mission of accuracy, so I assured him I would do my best to test his theory.

Sis is here tonight and we hope for a calm and peaceful night with everyone sleeping well, and a quiet and calm family Christmas Day tomorrow.  Maybe Santa will leave more apple cake.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

North African spiced lamb with pesto fettuccine

Lamb shoulder chop with North African spices, basil fettuccine, chickpeas and tomatoes.
I have been in the mood for lamb chops lately.  I generally prepare them with some type of spiced rub of cumin and chipotle and oregano.  I decided to use the "North African" spices called for in my seared steak recipe, which includes coriander seeds, red pepper, and paprika, along with the cumin and oregano, and salt, of course.  I use freshly ground sea salt, and a little cracked black pepper.  Sear the lamb chops in olive oil (just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet), cover, and simmer on low for 30-45 minutes.  The juices will simmer the chops and infuse them with the wonderful flavor.  Uncover, turn the heat to high until the juices are cooked down, flip the chops once to coat both sides.  Serve with basil fettuccine.
 I have never thought I was a fan of pesto based on the few times I had tried it.  When I was thinking of what to serve with the chops that my finicky husband might eat, the package of chops suggested pesto fettuccine.  We eat fettuccine.  We eat basil.  We eat olive oil.  What could go wrong?  I selected the Dalallo traditional pesto in the tiny little Italian section of Kroger's.  I have used this brand in other jarred Italian before, and it looked pretty in the jar, and contained just simple ingredients: olive oil, basil.  It was an excellent choice!  Per the instructions, I just tossed about half of the jar with the hot fettuccine, and voila! A beautiful minty green fettuccine that was the perfect accompaniment to the spicy lamb chops.  I added a simple side of chickpeas and tomatoes, with cracked black pepper, and of course, some rustic bread, hot, with a good dose of real butter.
I like lamb with syrah (or shiraz, depending on the country of origin), and an amazing secret available in Oxford is Boekenhoustskloof The Wolftrap.  This gem is priced at $11, and it delivers the perfect accompaniment to the peppery spices in the lamb, with its own peppery syrah blend.
Boekenhoutskloof was established in 1776. Located in the furthest corner of the beautiful Franschhoek valley, the farm's name means "ravine of the Boekenhout" (pronounced Book-n-Howed). Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree greatly prized for furniture making.

In 1993 the farm and homestead was bought and restored and a new vineyard planting programme was established that now includes Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Grenache, Semillon and Viognier.
Sometimes when I am eating something simple I have prepared, I just hug myself in joy that food can taste so good.  I hugged myself several times last night with dinner.  Note, there were no leftovers to box up--J loves my lamb chops, too.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Blazing a trail through kudzu--not for the faint of heart

 Several weeks ago (months ago?) a storm caused a limb to fall from the tree beside of our house.  Try as we might, we cannot get it to budge off the cable/telephone wires running from pole to house from any vantage point.  Fortunately, it is not the electrical wire, but nonetheless, loss of our Internet would be a sad day around this place.
 It is suspended over a mountain of kudzu, just outside of the fence, on a little hillside with a ravine running through it.  Not terribly convenient as far as access goes.  Yesterday was beautiful, pleasant, calm, so I decided it was a good day to hack my way through the kudzu with the tree loppers and get this limb off the wires before another ice storm.  Now these days, my climbing up onto a wall about 18 inches from the ground, and stepping onto a less than solid surface is dicey.  I carefully got the two step stool, my cane, and gingerly approached the wall, trying to keep from entangling my feet in the kudzu vines just silently stalking me, waiting to pounce and wrap their choking little tendrils around me.

I managed to get up there.  Watching carefully where I put my feet, and using the walking stick for balance and support and to test out what was underneath all the dormant kudzu vines and dead leaves on the ground, I managed to create a fair-sized passage-way to reach the offending limb on the wire…but not be able to reach any of the branches or twigs.  Back down the treacherous path, in search of another tool…ah, yes, the rake should do it.  No, it would not.
 Take a closer look at the "trail" I was attempting to navigate, whilst keeping in mind that on a good day, on flat surface, it is not easy for me to walk, and you will probably be scratching your head asking, "What was she thinking?"  To quote "The Egg and I," I am like a dog with a bone once I get it in my head that something needs doing. (On a side note, in the ravine, I found the missing dog/cat dish, several empty wine bottles apparently pulled from the trash bin by our resident raccoon, and a number of empty food carton containers.)  Undaunted, I found a length of plastic pipe that was long, but not heavy.  It was a great plan, but it did not work!  The limb is too heavy.  I wisely gave it up for the day, however, clearly resolved that I will make an effort another day, with assistance…and a ladder.
 The term "feral" cat hardly seems to apply to the herd that hang out on my hillside, but still, they are outside cats and thus, the accommodations are sparse and utilitarian.  Yesterday after the failure to remove the tree limb from the wires, I replaced their collapsed cardboard shelter with a couple of new boxes, and fixed the cat cozy so they could not sit on top of it and crush it.  Duh, cats, the point of the shelter is to protect you from wind and rain.  Clearly, Bubby got the idea that in the cozy is better than on the cozy--or at least he grasped that he had no other choice now.


One has to learn not to become attached to feral cats, but rather just appreciate their contributions in keeping the mice and lizard population in check (and I feed twice a day, lest you think I am dooming cats to subsistence level hunting).  Some of them are aloof, although not afraid.  A couple are always downright domestic, climbing on my lap or purring while I hold them and scratch ears or tummy.

They are a trade-off.  I finally stopped feeding the birds because it seemed cruel that the cats were able to attack them while they were eating breakfast or supper.  I miss the birds, but after the second one was taken down right before my eyes before me or the bird knew a cat was close enough, I knew I needed to make a choice--at least until there is some other way to feed a bird without a cat being able to climb a tree or leap 5 feet straight up into the air and swipe a bird off a feeder perch.  And yes, one did, as fast as a speeding bullet.  At least for now, my trees are barren--no leaves, no cardinals.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Burrow Store, Bowens Store, and Gardner and Jones Store

 Burrow's Store on Church Street in Byhalia was actually two stores.  James Lafayette Burrow owned both buildings in the sequence, and they were connected with an entrance between them (Helms & Kaye, 1995, National Register of Historic Places nomination form).  The Commercial Italianate building was constructed in 1885 "with the coming of the railroads" and closed in 1972 (Helms & Kaye). Number 2446 on the corner was a dry goods store, and a tavern was located in the basement.  The dry goods store:
One-story, flat roof…brick building with corbeled parapet. The windows are segmentally arched and fixed with denticulated header archers. The doorway has a 4-lite transom overhead and the door is doubled with one lite per panel. (Helms & Kaye).
Unless I miss my math, the transom over the corner store is 3-lites.

Number 2444 next door was the grocery store. Helms and Kaye described it similarly:
One-story, flat roof...brick building with false parapet and corbeled parapet.  The openings are segmentally arched with denticulated arched lintels.  The doorway is a 1-lite, 1-panel, double door with a 4-lite transom overhead and the windows are fixed.
The two stores appear almost identical, with only the windows and the transom over the door differing. The 1995 photographs in the nomination form show the windows on both stores were both one fixed lite, rather than the two-lite windows in the corner store.  The transom on the corner store was covered with a wood sign, so it is also possible that the 3-lite transom is a replacement, or else, being not visible, the assumption was made it was 4-lite.
Number 2442 Church was the Bowens Store/Gardner & Jones Store, commercial Italianate, constructed in 1884 (Helms & Kaye).  They reported the 1915 Sanborn map and History of Byhalia
indicate that the mercantile businesses of the Bowens Store and Gardner and Jones Store were located side-by-side.  The tax card indicates that Dr. Hammack had an office here. 
The windows of the Gardner and Jones store have been filled and a modern plate glass installed, but the arches remain visible.

While there is still more to explore in Byhalia, that's it for the mini-downtown tour; the rest will have to await another day, and one that starts a bit earlier in better light.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

McCrary's Store

 McCrary's was the first of four general mercantile stores in Byhalia in its early years (Watson, 2008, Burrow chronicles Byhalia's past, The South Reporter online).  The Commercial Italianate building was constructed in 1884 (Helms & Kaye, 1995) and was owned by W. C. McCrary.  Described in the National Register of Historic Places nomination:
Two-story, brick and stucco, commercial building with a parapeted front facade and denticulation near the parapet. There are eight recessed areas immediately below the denticulation. There are four semi-round windows with double arch brick header coursing over the top of the windows which are 6/6 double hung. There are two entrances to the building with 6-lite transoms over each entry. The entrances are recessed and have plate glass windows around them. There are transoms above each of the two storefronts, and a flat roofed awning supported by posts spans the facade. Windows on the side of the building are 6/6 double hung. (Helms & Kaye)
The awning and posts have been removed.  McCrary's closed in 1970.  It was subsequently damaged by fire some years prior to 2008--perhaps that is when the awning and posts were removed--(Watson, 2008) and considered a hazard.  The Burrow family of Byhalia was instrumental is saving the building.

Penny tile entrance

 According to Jean Burrow's oral history of Byhalia,
The store sold general merchandise and groceries on one side, clothing and fabric on the other and seed out of the basement. (Watson, 2008)

The upstairs was used to store caskets and as a morgue. Caskets were brought up the outside stairs and through the fire door. McCrary's was one of the first buildings in Mississippi to have a fire escape, Burrow said. (Watson, 2008)
I suppose that solves the mystery of the second floor door to nowhere.

Additional mystery is enshrouded in the story of the missing building between these two remaining buildings.  According to Burrow (Watson, 2008), McLeary's store was next door to McCrary's, and was destroyed by the fire that damaged McCrary's.  A fire is reported to have destroyed a downtown store owned by Hubert Mills in 1974, but no details of the location of the store (Donald J. Simon, 1974, The once and future Mississippi, The Harvard Crimson).  According to MDAH and Helms and Kaye, McLeary's was the building in the photo above, and Horn's store was located between the two.

The correct answer is out there somewhere.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Apple Skillet Cake Redux

Because today was Saturday, and the semester is over, and I slept until 9 a.m., I decided it was a good day for Lana's Apple Skillet Cake, aka "Dutch Baby Pancake" for breakfast.  It turned out pretty--prettier, in fact, than the first one I made, but it does not taste quite as custardy and is missing something that was definitely in the first one (photograph below).
Ever practical Randy said, "You were cooking with gas in Graham."  It's true--I prefer gas, and it cooks better to me.  It could be because I grew up learning how to cook on a gas stove.  But, there may be some other things at play as well.  Before I go any further, be assured that this pretty and easy little breakfast/dessert is still yummy, and is definitely on my keeper list.

Although Lana's recipe called for Granny Smith apples, I used Gala the first time as I was shopping without the recipe and did not remember that.  I am not really a Granny Smith fan, so I had Randy get Gala this last week…only he got Fuji.  Both stand up to baking well, so I did not think it would be that much of an issue, but I sense it affects the flavor a bit.

On my first effort, I discovered during the prep process that Mom had no brown sugar.  Not daunted in my desire to make this recipe, I just mixed a bit of molasses (1 tsp) with the 2 tbs of white sugar, since that is all that brown sugar is anyway.  Perhaps it was that tangy B'rer Rabbit molasses that gave it such a different texture (much more custard-like) and a darker color, but it might also have contributed to the uniquely caramel-like bread pudding taste and texture as well.

Now to be sure, in less than 15 minutes, the current version of apple skillet cake is gone, and I have had one tiny serving.  Clearly, J and Rand were undaunted by the minute difference I noted in the two versions…but to be fair, neither did they taste the first version.

There is just nothing left to do but in the name of scientific inquiry, I am compelled to make it again next week while I am in Graham, using Gala apples and B'rer Rabbit molasses, in my dad's well-seasoned cast iron skillet using the gas cook stove.  Then, on return to Mississippi, I will have to make it again, using those exact same ingredients, minus the gas stove and dad's skillet.  That will narrow some of the spurious details enough that I can at least rule out the electric vs. gas theory, and the not-as-well-seasoned cast iron skillet vs. the lifetime seasoned cast iron skillet theory.  Once I check those results, I'll determine if I need to do the comparison again without the molasses and Gala.  Heck, maybe I will even try it with those Granny Smiths.  I sure hope Lana overlooks my experimentation with her lovely recipe, but truth-be-told, I have been tinkering with my version of recipes since the first time I started trying to figure out how to make parmesan-crusted red-pepper catfish without a recipe.

I recently read a story about Chef Andreas Viestad who said his goal is to use tomatoes every day and never have the recipe taste exactly the same way.  Challenge accepted!




Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Sunshine Odyssey

 Both today and yesterday, the sun is out full-force.  Yesterday, the sound of melting ice tinkled throughout the morning, and my car windshield was an ice sculpture with circles of crystals fanning out across it.  I did not see much of the sunshine yesterday, though, leaving my office finally after dark, driving home in the moonlight and finding the cats meowing at the back door.
 After the final was over, my students gave me "a little Christmas happy"--a Peace candle.  I came home last night and lit it, thinking of how easy it is to become overwhelmed with the end of the semester--for me as well as them.  I have been a grad student, so I know they are stressed and looking to cut corners.  I--as a grad student--did experience stress, but I don't recall trying to cut the corners.  I was so excited to be in grad school, and learning all this wonderful new stuff--hearing theories that enabled me to make sense of so many things and give a language to what I knew but did not know how to express--just fueled me to dig deeper, read more, research more, write more.
 They also threw in a pair of happy feet--little pink and white fuzzy socks.  I was also touched by the "warm fuzzy" of the socks, and thinking about how we seek to nurture and warm those who are important to us.  A tiny gesture, but one that had me smiling as I was sitting at the computer last night, dealing with giving the clinical comprehensive examination for the umpteenth time these past two weeks.
Sometimes, Libby seems to worry when I am sitting here with chair turned around, feet on the bed, listening to music and just staring at the wall.  She has such a pliable little face, with her Shar Pei "sand skin" wrinkles and her big head the most distinctive feature about her mixed ancestry.  It is uncanny how she will mimic my moods at times, and at others, totally disregard me and snooze.  Kind of like life, I guess: what you get is what you get.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Merchants and Farmers Bank of Byhalia

 The current home of Byhalia Drugs, the 1884 building was originally a branch of Merchants and Farmers Bank (Helms & Kaye, 1995).  The bank opened in 1903 and served the community until 1948.  The nomination form indicates the building was altered in 1920.
 From the nomination:
One-story, flat roof, commercial building constructed of stone and brick with a parapet capped with tile. There is a rusticated Corinthian column of limestone with a square limestone base, and a concrete lintel which sits on the corner of the building…The corner entrance is recessed and has double doors with one lite and one panel.  The windows are fixed commercial type. (Helms & Kaye, 1995)
The windows on the side of the building have been sealed internally at some point after 1995, and covered with false shutters which replaced awnings.
 The tiled entrance still bears the Byhalia Bank inset.  This entrance is also similar to the one on Tyson Drug Store, Holly Springs, which was built circa 1860.
Sometime after 1995 when the nomination form was completed, the buildings in the block got a new paint job.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Tree

Right now, of course, one cannot open a web page without seeing it filled with stories about Mr. Mandela.  While I held deep respect for him for so many reasons, including loving the sound of his Xhosa name-Rolihlahla (pronounced roll ee sla sla), I did not think I could add anything more to what has been said of him.  Until this morning, when I went to make this post and ended up so far from where I thought I was going.

No, I do not have anything pithy or yet unsaid to say about Mr. Mandela, but rather, about his name.  I learned only this morning that his Xhosa name meant "pulling the branch of a tree" but was more commonly interpreted as "troublemaker."  I thought how fitting, and how honorable--or as they spell it in South Africa--honourable.  We need a lot more of us pulling the branches of trees, doing some troublemaking--not the mischievous kind, but the kind Mr. Mandela did, fighting the wrongs of evil systems.

When I was home during Thanksgiving, I went up to the high school to take some photographs as I recently learned that the school was a New Deal project.  It was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1939.  Of course, one can not go to where one spent the majority of 4 years of your life without experiencing some thoughts and memories.
Upon parking, the first thing I saw was the bank of trees on the left and was flooded with a memory.  Under the tree is where all the black students stood while waiting for the bell to ring.  It was 1964 when we began as Freshmen, so for 4 years as I walked around the side of the building to the front door where all the white kids stood waiting for the bell to ring, I would see them out there.  It was a fairly small group--maybe 10-15 students if that many.  My freshman annual would show 4 black students in my class, and only one of them would be in my senior annual 4 years later.  

None of this is surprising, but it has stayed with me for two weeks now--the pain of remembering that, and the troubling pain of remembering less than that.  It has been juxtaposed against the experience of apartheid--which I would also not know was raging on another continent as I walked the halls of this school, separated from students who were not the same color as I was, even in the same school building.

It is troubling that I would not learn of Soweto or Sharpstown or District Six until many years later, as an adult, when apartheid ended. Only yesterday did I learn of the music boycott of performing in South Africa and the song "I ain't gonna play sun city."



I cannot go back and undo what I did not do because I did not know.  But I can make sure that I know now, and that I can stand with my co-troublemakers in exposing and opposing evil systems and evil things.  There is a cost in speaking out, but it is not greater than the cost of failing to take action in the face of evil.  There are way too many people still standing under the trees instead of at the front door.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like summer...

…soon, the heat will start…oh, wait, already has.  Yes, folks, it was almost 80 degrees here yesterday, in December.  You would think you could not top that, but you would be wrong--supposed to have freezing rain and ice this weekend.  I suppose it is a good thing that I will be holed up reading clinical comprehensive exams all weekend.  At least if there is ice and rain, I won't feel like I am missing a road trip to do it.

 Once again, the travel plans for December are all up in the air.  A does not know what B is doing, right does not know what left is doing, and I am stuck in the middle trying to juggle and really dreading another long drive and long week and long drive back.  It is always worth it, with many good moments, but wearying, to put it mildly.
Last time, we made a stop at our Arlington friends welcoming home and I relaxed with an 8 pound dog on my legs--and could not even feel her.  I am not certain if that was because she is so light and tiny, or I just could not feel my legs any more after the week of excessive physical activity.

When is vacation?  You know, the one where you actually get to vacate, not have to go do something.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Old Jean School

This six-room, six teacher school was built in 1927.  Not bad for a small Texas community about to enter the throes of the Great Depression.  The railroad was still passing through, and the agricultural and ranching business was likely still good at the time. Probably, oil had been making its way onto the scene, and in general, life was looking promising for the growing community.
Prior to erecting this brick structure, the community boasted a one-room, wooden school house with tin roof, which is also still standing.  It appears to be in use as some type of supply/welding store, based on the visibility of the contents through the front door.
I don't know how much use the community center sees on a regular basis, but once a year it is full and busy for the annual homecoming.  Maybe next year I will go and see if the guy I had such a crush on when I was a sophomore shows up.  He still lives on his family farm up the road.  When I think about the life I have enjoyed, and the one I might have had if he had returned my interest, I am grateful that there are times we don't get what we want.  What do ya'll think?

Monday, December 2, 2013

What?!?! Corn Sticks made it higher than Lake Cisco World's Largest Swimming Pool?

For months now, I watch the top posts, always wondering at the "trends" and why they are what they are.  Top posts for a long, long, long time were the "Cotton Pickin' Story" and anything on Mound Bayou.  The last year, it has been the Lake Cisco World's Largest Swimming Pool post…and anything on Mound Bayou.

And today…it was Corn Sticks and Lana's Apple Skillet Cake!  Life is good…and so is Lana's Apple Skillet Cake--It's what's for breakfast.   Ya'll go try it.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Jean State Bank

I took advantage of a couple of hours one day after errands to the grocery store and post office to drive out to Jean, a community about 14 miles from Graham.  My best friend in high school lived in Jean.  It probably did not look much different then than it does now, and surprisingly, still has a lot of folks living in the community, along with two active churches.
Jean was established in 1875 by settler S. B. Lamar, and the community was first called Lamar.  Lamar's son, who became the first postmaster, changed the name to Jean, in honor of his girlfriend (Hunt, n. d.).  The community also went by the names Gray and Shinola at some point in the early history of the settlement (Holub, 2009).
 The square rock in the Texas outline represents Young County, and the tiny star is Jean's location in Young County.  The town moved one mile to its present location in 1903, when the Gulf, Texas and Western Railroad came through, connecting Seymour and Jacksboro (Holub).
 In the 1920s, the community built four brick buildings for a bank, a drug store, a mercantile, which also served as the train depot, and a Masonic Lodge (Holub).  The Jean State Bank, 1921, is clearly identified.  The two structures to the right of the bank are marked as 1924.  The addition on the right has been altered with a raising door at some point, and additions to the rear of the center and right structures.
The remaining bricks at the upper right corner of the third section of the structure appears to indicate a fourth building was present at one time.

The addition to the back of the building (date unknown) is indicated due to the difference in the bricks and the mortar.  The bricks are of different types and textures, the mortar on the 1920 is softer, and the design is somewhat different from the back of the bank building.




Always a little sad to see a building that was important to a community still standing, but obviously on the road to falling down.  Curious, the school built in 1927 is still in use as a community center.  We'll drive up the road that way later this week.

Dorman Holub, Young County TX GenWEb, March 15, 2009, accessed December 1, 2013 from rootsweb.ancestry.com.


William R. Hunt, "JEAN, TX," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hnj05), accessed December 01, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.