Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, November 30, 2014

1936 Jermyn PWA School

 Jermyn is a small rural community in the northwest corner of Jack County, Texas.  It was founded in 1909
...on the western edge of Lost Valley, a 20-square-mile area of Jack County...as site of the roundhouse, depot, and office building for the Gulf, Texas & Western Railroad.  It was named for J. J. Jermyn (1852-1928), line's president. (Texas State Historical Survey Committee, 1972)
The sale of the railroad in 1930, and the onset of the Great Depression contributed to its decline.  The Public Works Administration project orders were received in January 1936 to construct a new school building.  Contract was awarded to Gurley Construction Company in the amount of $46,073 ("Dormitory work to start January 24: Other PWA project orders received," January 17, 1936, p. 14, San Antonio Express).
 Supervised by PWA engineer W. J. Walker,
Ground was broken Thursday of this week for a $50,000 building project in Jermyn. This amount of PWA money is being spent in that place for the erection of a complete new school building. ("Work on 50 thousand dollar school building," February 7, 1936, p. 1, The Olney Enterprise)
 The school, or at least part of it, was still standing in 1972 when the state historic marker was erected, and was utilized as a civic center for the community.
Based on the freshness of the rubble and the ground around the school foundation, it seems possible that it has only recently been demolished.  Leaving the entrance arch seems to reflect some degree of sentimentality on the part of the community for the building and the role it served in the community.
Perhaps the larger slab on the corner was the base for the auditorium, whose seats lie in a pile at the back of the lot.


The Jermyn school eventually consolidated with nearby Bryson, which still operates a K-12 school.

Friday, November 28, 2014

"Quya: 'to celebrate Thanksgiving (of many people)'."

First, I acknowledge and give credit to Snow & Mist for the title and the information.  I have been following her blog and adventures for a while now and her Thanksgiving post just resonated with me, because I am a dog lover, and former owner of two Siberian Huskies--one of whom looked a lot like Quya--and I love words and language and the ways we make meaning of and from those words and languages.
 Mom has been on a roll lately of doing things for herself and we love that.  Because holidays remind her of family--her mother and daddy--she likes to immerse herself in ways she does not do at other times.  That's good with us--we take what we get.  Mother was always a wonderful cook, and her chocolate pie and coconut pie were amazing.  They still are.  Even though she cannot see well, and needed help to hear the recipe and measure, she made one of each, and made the dressing.  I pronounced her dressing the best ever in all the years she has been making it and I have been eating it.
 I am so thankful that Mom and Dad are still a part of my earthly life, and for my beautiful sister who gives so much to keep them in their own home even when it means she is often not in hers.
 I am so thankful for our steadfast sisters by another mother, Bert and Diane, who help out so Sis can do things with her children and grandchildren sometimes, and still know Mom and Dad have good care.  It is amazing the bond we feel with them, and how much a part of the family they have become.
 I am so thankful that my adorable niece (one of 4 adorable nieces on this side of my family) came down with her husband to stay over a few days.  I am so thankful for my steadfast husband, Rand, who juggles our Texas responsibilities with our parents as I do--as best we can, and who would help take care of Jennybelle without a smidgen of complaint.

I have been blessed beyond measure all of my life, in all things, even those that seem hard and relentlessly difficult.  My difficulties pale in comparison with most of the rest of the people of the world.  I am so thankful for all those people who have gone before me, with me, and will after me, who desire the world to be a better place, a safer place, a fairer place, and even whilst knowing that will not happen, continue to act as if it is possible.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rio and I are cleaning out his barn

 I was too busy to get to Rio's barn yesterday, so this morning, it was on my priority "to do" list.  Last night I mentioned I had to get up early today and Dad wanted to know why.  I said I was going to muck out Rio's hay barn.  Dad responded, "You don't have to do that.  He will just fill it up again."  I said I knew, but I liked doing it--"it makes me happy."  He smiled and said, "Then it doesn't take very much to make you happy if shoveling horse s*** will do it."  I had to smile then.

It's true most of the time: it doesn't take much to make me happy.  Oh, don't misunderstand--I can get my unders in a wad with the best of them, but generally, it is for a good reason.  It's one thing to complain about things that don't matter, but quite another to be angry over injustice--at least in my book.
After I fed Rio this morning, and heard his welcoming nicker and his eyes were not looking so sad, I put on my working pants and headed out to the barn with my shovel and rake and a bucket.  Rio looked up from his spot under the trees and walked back toward the barn to check out what I was doing.
I walked out to meet him, having earlier placed treats in my pocket, and he nuzzled a carrot cube from my hand.  He stood beside me, looking at the spot where Jenny had laid down and died.  Yesterday, it was the perfect little imprint of her body, the outline of head, ears, tail, all clearly impressed in the soft ground and grass.  I had thought I wanted to make a picture of it--I'm not sure why.
Today, it does not resemble little Jenny at all, just looks like any other spot in the pasture.  I thought how that is so much like life in many ways.  We try to cling to things that connect us to important people, events, things...and then sometimes, they disappear anyway.  I have been experiencing that a lot lately it seems, and it is a reminder of the importance of not getting attached to things that are fleeting.  I don't think that means not being attached in the sense of caring, but that we should not be so dependent upon maintaining the connection that we lose sight of connection in the grander scheme of things.

I was right about one thing, though, and that is Rio was less sad and bereft while I was out working in the corral and pasture today.  I ended up spending the entire day out there, and indeed, I was happy all day long.  Rand said, "Turns out horse poop is an antidepressant."  Rio stood behind me watching, and when I refilled his hay manger after finishing cleaning, he stood with his head in the hay storage barn, munching on a little bit that dropped off the pitchfork.  I asked him to move over and let me get back in with the pitchfork to put it away.  He looked at me for a minute, chewing thoughtfully...and then stepped aside.  I love that horse.
 After I had done all that work on the barn, and clearing the trails I walk down to get to the hay barn, I figured I might as well clean out the water trough.  Turns out that little spigot on the bottom that was supposed to make it easy to empty...won't open.  I think there must be a little tool needed, something similar to an Allen wrench, and I will see if I can locate one.  I flipped it closed with a screwdriver when we filled it, but it would not open that way today, and Sis said she had not been able to get it open either, so she had done the same thing I was doing--using a plastic jug to empty it one gallon at a time.  Once it is down to a couple of inches, you can tip the trough and rinse it and drain the rest of the water before re-filling.

As always, Rio said thank you for the fresh water.  He came up just after I finished and when I was putting out a little of the hay I had cleaned up from the barn floor to help soak up the water and mud just in front of the trough.  He said he didn't care about no stinkin' mud hole, he just wanted a drink.

Another great lesson in the important priorities in life: clean drinking water, regular feeding, and stand next to me while I walk my path.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saying goodbye to Jennybelle

 Rio's crying.  When my sister texted this morning to see what time we would arrive this afternoon, she said she needed help...little Jenny died.  She had gone to get the trailer when we got here.  I walked out to the pasture and saw Rio standing out under a tree, so I knew that was where Jenny was.  They think she was hit by lightening during the storm yesterday, but no one knows for sure.  When she did not come up to eat breakfast this morning, Sis went to look for her.
Rio stood silent guard while we loaded her to take her to my sister's land and her final resting place under a stand of trees.  I swear, he was crying.  He seems lost, bereft.  I understand.  I was attached to Jenny, and it was not expected at all--I thought I would feed her supper tonight and she would bray softly while Rio nickered, and that by the end of the week, she would be eating out of my hand again.

Rio stands under the tree where Jenny lay down for the last time here, sniffs the ground, and then walks back up to the barn.  I petted him, his winter coat silky and soft, stroked his face and neck.  In the morning, I'll go work a while in the pasture, cleaning out his hay barn and the water trough, just to be near him and hope he does not feel as alone as he might otherwise.  Perhaps, I won't feel as alone either.
Rest, sweet Jennybelle.  Thank you for the company you gave Rio and for being his faithful companion.  One more path on the uncharted terrain, but thank you for walking it with us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

La Liga Patriotica de Instruccion

 The Patriot League Instruction was located on the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th street, and established in 1889.  Classes were conducted by Don Jose Guadalupe Rivero at night, after the Cuban emigres had completed a day of labor in the tobacco factories.  Ybor City's development was begun in 1885 by cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez-Ybor.  By the end of 1886, over 3,000 workers had arrived in what would become known as the "Cigar Capital of the World" (Ybor City Historical Page, Baldor Academy Alumni).
 Ybor City hosted many of the mutual aid societies and social clubs that were established to enable those marginalized by race, ethnicity, and immigrant status to successfully cope with and adapt to the often inhospitable environment of the larger US society, while maintaining a connection with their identity and culture.  On the corner of East 7th Avenue and 14th Avenue, for example, is located the "cradle of Cuban liberty" which was a tobacco stripping house converted to a social center in 1886 Ybor City historical marker text).
The Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo was formed when local Florida segregation forced Afro-Cubans from El Club Nacional Cubana, an organization of black and white Cubans in the independence movement (Ybor City History, Baldor Academy).

Cuba secured independence from Spain in 1898, and the La Union continued to provide mutual aid benefits to members until the 1930s when large numbers of Afro-Cubans fled the south along with African Americans.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


 Hav-A-Tampa cigars originated in the USA in 1901.  The "mild-flavored" cigar had a wood-tip, alleged to ensure a smooth and consistent draw.  Tampa Jewels and Tampa Nuggets were among the brands.
Hav-A-Tampa closes its factory ending an era for the local cigar industry and the city it made synonymous with stogies. (Morales, I., & Zink, J. (June 23, 2009). Tampa Bay Times)
Tampa was known as "Cigar City" since its early years of becoming home to the cigar-rolling industry, fueled by the move of cigar factories from Key West to Tampa with the lure of cheaper land, resulting in the founding of Ybor City community.

The company cited rising taxes (used to fund health care for those in poverty) as one of the reasons for the closure of the factory in Tampa.  Cigars, like other forms of tobacco, were glamorized in the early 1900s by both the movie industry and in print advertisements.  Many a child carried a cigar box to school to hold crayons, and cigar boxes were dressed up with crepe paper or silver foil to become Valentine mailboxes.  We vied for the cigar bands to sport as rings--the graphics seen as intricate art for those of us without real jewelry.

It is ironic in many ways that the phenomenon of funding health care by taxes on a product that causes major health issues continues to disproportionately affect the poor and impoverished.  The rising cost of tobacco use, fueled partly by increased taxes, claims a disproportionate amount of the income of the poor, and those who are more likely to lack health care in the first place.  Any number of studies have provided evidence that children and minorities (most likely to be poor) are targeted by the tobacco industry.

It is also ironic that although we can truthfully claim ignorance up until at least 1963 and the first surgeon general's report that linked tobacco use with lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other ill health factors, that is no longer the case.  While tobacco use is declining as a whole, it continues to represent a danger to the health and well-being of all of us.

Bob Newhart probably said it best in his comedic routine in which he has a "conversation" with Sir Walter Raleigh about the discovery of tobacco (roughly paraphrased from my memory of the 1970s):
Now let me see if I understand this--you take the leaf of this 'to-bac-co', roll it up in paper, set it on fire, and inhale the smoke?  Seems like you could get the same effect sitting in front of the fireplace with the damper closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don Vicente de Ybor Inn

 Don Vicente de Ybor was the founder of Ybor City, after he left Cuba.  In 1895, following building his cigar manufacturing center across the street, he built what was his home for many years.  Vincente moved his cigar factory to Tampa from Key West, primarily because of cheaper land.  Other cigar factories followed.
 With the cigar factories came the immigrants, mostly from Cuba, but also from Spain, Italy, and Romania.  At some point much later, Ybor's home was a hospital and clinic, which operated until 1980.  It became a boutique hotel in 1998, and this year, sold for 2.2 million.
 According to the Tampa Bay Examiner, the hotel is one of Tampa's most haunted places, with a variety of guests and employees reporting sitings of spirits, including a nurse in the basement.  Stories are told of the "mad doctor" who experimented on patients and then burned their bodies in the incinerators of the basement.  Allegedly, room 305 is the "most haunted" with the most frequent sitings.
 Interesting, the hotel is a frequently used venue for weddings and other celebrations.  It has 16 rooms, Persian carpet, chandeliers, canopy beds, and a marble staircase.  Apparently, brides descending that marble staircase is the big drawing card.
 You can also book a room if you are visiting historic Ybor City, with a warning that during the weekends, the neighborhood can be rowdy.
The area was a hotbed for patriots during the Cuban Revolution and the Spanish American war, primarily after one Jose Marti made a rousing speech on the steps of the cigar factory across the street from Vincente de Ybor's home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

El Pasaje

 "The Passage" was constructed from 1886 to 1888 by Vicente Martinez Ybor, and in 1895 became the Cherokee Club--a gathering spot for the elite.  Architects M. Leo Elliot and B. C. Bonfoey are credited with designing the Italian Renaissance Men's Club in 1917 (AIA Tampa Bay).  Elliot was born in 1886 (Social Security Death Index), the year construction started on the building, so it seems safe to say that perhaps Elliot and Bonfoey did some type of remodeling or renovation in 1917.  El Pasaje originally served as the offices for Ybor's companies.  Ybor developed the concept for Ybor City after cigar factories moved to Tampa from Key West.
 Located on the corner of Avenida Republica de Cuba and 9th Avenue, the imposing building is across the street from Ybor City's original cigar factory, and was the second brick building to be constructed in Ybor City.
 Over the years, several restaurants, a hotel, and other businesses have been located in the building.  Among the Cherokee Club's famous guests were Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Winston Churchill.
Original wrought iron balconies on the upper floor and iron finials on the roofline were removed sometime after the 1950s according to the NRHP nomination form for Ybor City Historic District (no author, no date).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Macon's Art Deco Guns and Ammo Store

The c. 1880 building that occupies the corner of S. Jefferson and E. Pulaski retains its original rectangular two-story form, and the front of the brick building has been stuccoed (Barrow, 2001, NRHP nomination form).  Simple Art Deco details have been applied to the front, including the green marble stepped surround on the entrance door, glass block windows on the upper floor, and a floriated pattern on the metal grill above the doorway.

The c. 1880 building to the right was originally retail space on the first floor, with paired display windows under three-light transoms.  The second entrance leads to the upper floor which served as a lodge meeting space (Barrow).  Brick dentil molding is featured over the arched windows, which has now been enclosed.  The building does not appear to be in use, and needs some sprucing up!

Visible to the rear of the building is the former Carter's Funeral Home, c. 1930.  Much of that building has been altered, but it still retains the plain brick pilasters and recessed tablet above the second floor windows.
The prominent corner location and style of the building lead me to believe this was originally a bank.

Friday, November 7, 2014

The corner of S. Jefferson and Pulaski in Macon

c. 1880 building at 300 S. Jefferson Street
Okay, really, ya'll down in Macon--and you know who you are--this should just not be this hard.  And, to spread the blame around, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, and National Register of Historic Places, and Google maps, and City of Macon business search, and--oh, wait, this could take a long time.

I never know if it is a blessing or a curse that I am like a dog with a bone when I want to know something and cannot find it.  You see, the problem is that there is no consistency in the world.  Yes, that's right--No consistency!  Every logical rule you think might help you figure out blocks, street addresses, N, S, E, and W--all goes out the window depending on who laid out the town.  I do have to admit that I am far more skilled at it than I used to be, what with discovering how to use MDAH/HRI, newspaper archives for which I pay a pretty penny (that means one of the shiny new ones I guess) but has proved essential in my New Deal research, and has also boosted my hobby related to architectural history.  The ability to connect historical addresses and locations with current Google maps (yeah, another MDAH/HRI assist) has been especially helpful as well.
In desperation, I started looking at the zoom for clues, and that is when I discovered the actual address of the building--which is nothing close to what Google maps says, the address of the building next door says, ad infinitum.  With the correct address, though, it is a short leap to the rest of the story.

Which, really is not much of a story, even after all of this lead in.  I just love buildings with a canted entrance, or corner entrance, or beveled entrance, or whatever anyone elects to call an entrance on the angle.  I love the variation of the posts, pillars, columns, poles that support that corner overhang, whether brick, stone, iron, wood, round, square, or whatever.

This corner building is described in the NRHP nomination form by E. Pauline Barrow (2001):
A painted brick one-story commercial building with a decorative parapet of bricks laid on end vertically forming a denticulated cornice over an indented tablet.  Replacement corner double-leaf entrance doors (NE) having single glass transoms and sidelights, all set in metal and an iron column supporting the beveled corner.  Another engaged iron column separates two round-arched recessed windows, also set in metal.  Lunette windows pierce the north elevation, as well as a second side entrance to a separate business.
While I have no clue as to what they sell or display in that building that I would venture to guess was once a bank or drug store, if you find yourself in Macon, drive by, better yet, stop and look.  And, note to self, next time I am in a city, just make a note of the address while I am standing right there next to it.

Old DeKalb High School

 Sometimes, I have one of those "what were they thinking?" moments.  Like the day I finally located the 1936 DeKalb high school building--no easy thing to do.  R. C. Springer, who was the architect for the 1940 WPA Lynville school just up the road also designed the DeKalb school (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Historic Resources Inventory).  If it was not annoying enough a covered arcade was erected in front of the building (and, hey, I can understand the need to protect children from the rain while walking between buildings), did they really have to locate two giant dumpsters right in front of the door?

So, here is this lovely venerable building, quite possibly a New Deal construction, with garbage bins blocking its face.  Rodney Dangerfield is not the only one who gets no respect.

The newspaper archives have so far revealed nothing about the school's construction.  The gymnasium for DeKalb was constructed by the National Youth Administration in 1938, and the vocational building, also built in 1936, give clues that the WPA might have been involved in construction. 
One might not realize the rear of the building as belonging to the school, unless you look at the perspective from google aerial maps.  It clearly shows the two rear wings of the one-story school, that jut out over the hill behind the school. 

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Weatherford Public Market

 In another one of those structures built under the New Deal Administration still in use today is the Public Market in Weatherford, Texas.  Area farmers came to the courthouse square in Weatherford to sell produce, livestock, seeds, and hay.  Most public squares were used for that purpose, but apparently, it was starting to get congested around the area, and made for difficulty with traffic.
Russell Lee, 1939, Farm Security Administration, retrieved from Library of Congress
The 100 x 150 foot Mission Style open air market, constructed a couple of blocks from the square, was completed in 1940 with WPA funding.
The new market is entirely fireproof, constructed of heavy pipe welded in position with corrugated metal roof and tile stucco front...floor is concrete, the building is open on all sides, and roll awnings give sun protection. (Weatherford builds a $13,000 public market place, Wise County Messenger, September 19, 1940, p. 7)
 Yesterday, it was filled with fall produce, flowers, jams and jellies, and about any other food item and more.  It is still serving the same purpose as when it was constructed in 1940.  You just gotta love that.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Good Saturday morning from the Terrell, Texas Waldorf Astoria/Ritz/Plaza

No, this building is neither the Salvation Army nor any of the hotels mentioned above.  It is the other side of the Municipal Building in Tampa, Florida.  I, however, am in the Holdiay Inn Express in Terrell, Texas, awake--though not of my own free will--on Saturday morning since 6 a.m.  A few days ago while I was in Tampa, I spotted this intriguing building on my walk to dinner one evening.  I posted about the other side of the building on Red Shutters.  I did not realize when I was taking this picture, as it came first, that this was part of the municipal building--which looks different on the other side.
I noticed the little glass sculptures on the face of the wall, and thought they were just some type of abstract bird.
I confess to not being totally sure of their purpose as they were not particularly visible, and seemed small for the massive scale of the building. (Note, the massiveness of the scale of HIE here in Terrell pales in contrast, but I will get to that.)
The bits of marble in front of the building are all that is left from the "first sidewalk in Tampa."  Apparently, marble was more plentiful than other sidewalk materials, or perhaps just that we had not considered other materials at that time.  If one thinks about it, though, walking around on marble slabs does seem to be a bit elitist in the use of resources.  Archibald Ross, Scotland native, was on the Tampa City Council.  He paved the walk around his bakery located on this spot in 1888, with Georgia marble.  Interesting, Mr. Ross was know as "the poor man's friend" and as this was the first paved sidewalk in Tampa, perhaps that was true--and he also wanted folks to be able to walk into his bakery without muddy shoes would be my next guess. (Historic Marker, visible in the marble marker this side of the steps).
The City of Tampa and the Tampa Historical Society preserved the remains of the sidewalk on the corner of the location of Ross's business.
It was not until I was walking back to the hotel after dinner that I realized the significance of the little glass "birds" on the wall.  While almost non-existent by day, at dark, they reveal another picture.
Without a tripod, there was not any way to really capture the stunning display, and its evocative of releasing birds in flight--I'm think Bird of Paradise.

Now, about that unplanned stay last night at the Terrell WARP:  I left Jackson yesterday at noon, following giving a presentation on ethics.  I spent the night in Flowood, in the Holiday Inn Express, for the rate of $114 + tax.  It was a nice room, in a nice hotel in a nice area.  I left Flowood at noon, planning to drive to my folks home, which typically would be a 9 hour drive.

I forgot it was noon, and I had to have gas, was not on the Interstate, took the wrong exit, had to drive through Fondren to get back to the Interstate, get past downtown Jackson, and finally an hour later, was in Clinton and gassed up and stopped at Starbucks.  I stopped in Monroe for food, and while I normally just eat on the run while I am making that long trek, I was tired, stiff, in pain, and opted to sit down for a short break at the deli...only there is no sign when you enter Monroe that directs you to the fact that if you plan to go to the mall from the Interstate, you had best take that first exit, or otherwise, you are going to drive past the mall, exit, backtrack, go down a back road, probably make a couple of wrong turns, and eventually find yourself where you want to be in the event you have not gotten impatient and said forget it.

There went another hour.  Long before Shreveport, I needed a pit stop due to the quart of McAlister's unsweet tea, but I was determined to make Shreveport.  I did, gassed up the car, took a pit stop, and back on the road.  It's six hours from Shreveport to home, and I really thought I would be in Dallas by 6 pm and it is now 5:30 and I am 3 hours from Dallas.  I finally made it to Terrell where I opted to stop for the night.  Spotting the Holiday Inn Express, which is slightly off the Interstate, and an interior hotel, I pulled up to get a room...and find out it is $169 + tax.  I asked, "What in the world is going on in Terrell that the rooms are 169?"  Canton First Monday is this weekend...gigantic new mall opening this weekend...the Army is in town for something.  I did not care--I was tired, in pain, and I generally am confident that HIE, while not the Tampa Hilton in terms of luxury service (not that it is required for me, just noting the distinction), is a safe, clean, and adequate space in which to spend the night when I am traveling alone.

It was.  I slept like the proverbial "baby" or "log" and awoke this morning at 6.  I was not sleepy, but did not feel any urgency to arise.  It was comfortable, I wasn't in pain, and it was quiet and relaxing.  I laid there a while, trying to decide if I did want to doze off again, get up and get an early start, or just have coffee in bed.  Then the alarm on the room alarm clock began a piercing screech, I could not reach it or see the off button, and by the time I finally found it, I was wide awake.  I hate the sound of an alarm--which is why I use my harp alarm on my iPhone.  In the rare event that I do not awaken on time on my own, it at least does not jar me from sleep thinking the garbage truck is backing into my bed.  I wondered if it was a ploy by the hotel to get you up and out of the room so they could be cleaned.  Manager to housekeeping every Friday: "now don't forget to set the alarm for 6:30 so they won't lollygag all Saturday morning."

So, after coffee and scones, and watching the sun come up in the east outside my window, I am now both relaxed and wide awake, and ready to hit the shower and then the remaining 4 or so hours home.  Mom and Dad will probably still be asleep when I get there.