Friday, January 29, 2010

Sepia Saturday #3: Wrapped in Love & Fur

Among the many mementos and treasures which my father brought back from Europe in the spring of 1945 was a bundle of creamy white fur hides.
My dad said they were baby goatskins. He had last seen my sister Anita when she was 7 or 8 months old. She was three and a half when he returned. Anita and I have been visiting over lunch today, and she is my primary source for these facts. She remembers being told they were actually from the isle of Capri . Her first knowledge of the hides was seeing my mother and father spreading them out on the dining room table. The fur was very soft with a delicate wavy quality.
"Anita, we're going to make you a coat."
The best part of this story for me, is having Anita recall with pride and wonder the unique talents of our mother. She was, albeit self-taught, an accomplished seamstress. She made a pattern for the coat, bonnet, and muff. Once the pattern was laid, my father and mother used a razor blade to cut out the pieces. Though Mother had a pedal powered sewing machine, we believe she hand sewed the pieces together. Our dad helped fashion the covered buttons. The buttons fastened to an elastic loop covered in creamy satin--the same fabric which lined the coat, bonnet, and muff. Pink satin ribbons adorned the bonnet with bows and the ties making another bow under the chin. There were more bows and a strap for the muff. To complete the ensemble, Mother made a pair of cream woolen flannel lined pants with a bib waistband and straps which had gathered cuffs at the ankles fastened with pearl buttons. The pants were worn over a matching satin blouse in the classic style: Peter Pan lace edged collar and puff sleeves. There are no known pictures of Anita in the "little white coat" as we have always referred to it. She wore this until she was too big for it. My sister Sue, born December 1945, was next in line to wear this coat. She had the hair to match it! Our mother carefully maintained this coat through her first two girls, and it was in perfect condition still in the early fifties when it was just right for me. Thank goodness for the familiar old dime store photo booths!


Anita and I have realized today that this coat, so lovingly crafted over 65 years ago by our parents, could not have been enjoyed any better than if it had been the finest ermine. In actuality, it is really just the little white Italian goat coat.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

"I Say That He's Bonnie!"

The Monarch of the Glen


Scottish poet, Robert Burns

"We'll tak a cup of kindness" and say Happy Birthday, Rabbie!

January 25th, 1759

" Comin' Thro' the Rye"

I just had to have a song by Bobbie Burns for today. I think you will enjoy Eddi Reader. She has performed many of the Burns songs during her career. I find this performance fresh yet still true to the spirit of the lyrics.

Since I had a portrait of Burns up for New Year's Eve, I offer something even more Scottish: Sir Edwin Landseer's famous Monarch of the Glen.

And if that isn't enough to have you craving shortbread and a tartan cloak, for all my buddies who love the film, here are the lyrics of the song...

I Know Where I'm Going

I know where I'm going

And I know who's going with me

I know who I love

And my dear knows who I'll marry.

I have stockings of silk

And shoes of bright green leather
Combs to buckle my hair

And a ring for every finger.

O' feather beds are soft

And painted rooms are bonnie

But I would give them all

For my handsome winsome Johnny.

Some say that he's poor

But I say that he's bonnie

Fairest of them all

Is my handsome winsome Johnny.

Hope this was a wee bit of cheer. Bonnie day to ya!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sepia Saturday #2: From Pedals to Pistons

A few facts as I know them:

This photo was taken January or February of 1947
in Talladega, Alabama.
The photographer was his father.
The shiny new pedal car is a Chrysler,
indicated on the rear insignia and by the hood ornament.
At the time he was an only child,
with a younger sister in his near future.
He would grow up to become a genuine Car Guy
and be happy behind the wheel of...
a Jeep (learned to drive in this one)
Hudson, Ford, Chevrolet Corvair (family cars)
Porsche, Huey (1200 horsepower), Volvo, Citroen SM, and
BMW Mini Cooper S (his personal choices).

No, not Ricky Bobby, of Talledega Nights fame...
(Hint: He did beget another car enthusiast.)

Yes, you guessed it!
The Colonel, age two, as lovable as ever
...with places yet to go!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

And the answer is...

What kind of car would King Arthur drive?
(see previous post)

An Excailbur, of course!

This car was one of the early retro cars!

Click here for the whole story!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Still Plays With Cars...Happy Birthday #1

Just after high school graduation, we went in search of Wart!
Ah, the life of the child of an English teacher! According to our Oxford family, this stop in Glastonbury is just one of five or six places where Arthur may be buried? Could this be a National Trust plot to keep us all guessing? The influences of literature and stories of yore were not wasted on my child. He did take a degree in history, but that doesn't mean he really grew up!
My first born son is having a really big birthday today, but don't worry,
he still plays with cars. Here he is with wife and son stuffed into the 1969 TR6
he bought just before leaving for Iraq last year! Are we cozy?

Can you say, "Details, details, and more details?"
Cameron is definitely what you would call a "car guy." There is no way I could begin
to cover his vast interests in automobiles ( a genetic marker from both grandfathers is to blame)....I may ask him to do a Guest Spot here at TKR sometime in the future.

And more details....even the smallest detail matters....

The more vintage ...the better...
This is an Auburn speedster...
(click on photo to enlarge)

A man and his "MoonLander"
(aka 1968 VW Transporter)

Outside the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Museum
Auburn, Indiana where the above photos were taken

Porsche Rennsport Reunion at Daytona Speedway

This is one of my very favorite photos of my #1. We were visiting the ruins of Glastonbury Abbey and his passion for history and the mystical feel of the place were captured in his expression ....with one brown eye, one blue eye staring into his future!

I asked him, "If King Arthur had driven a vintage automobile,
what would it have been?"
Care to guess what his answer was?

Monday, January 18, 2010

The Saddest Sunday

When I was twelve years old, four black girls close to my age died in the basement of this church. They had been attending their Sunday school classes. Four years later I would take a part time job across the street as a telephone operator where I worked with several other high school girls who attended services at the 16th Street Baptist Church. From them, I heard several first hand accounts of the horror of Sunday, September 15, 1963. For a full account of the story click on the title. Be forewarned, the vocal of this ballad will haunt you for a long time.

(On the bombing of a church in Birmingham, Alabama, 1963)

"Oh Mother dear, may I go downtown
Instead of out to play,
And march the streets of Birmingham
In a Freedom March today?"

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
For the dogs are fierce and wild,
And clubs and hoses, guns and jails
Aren't good for a little child."

"But, mother, I won't be alone.
Other children will go with me,
And march the streets of Birmingham
To make our country free."

"No, baby, no, you may not go,
For I fear those guns will fire.
But you may go to church instead
And sing in the children's choir."

She has combed and brushed her night-dark hair,
And bathed rose petal sweet,
And drawn white gloves on her small brown hands,
And white shoes on her feet.

The mother smiled to know that her child
Was in the sacred place,
But that smile was the last smile
To come upon her face.

For when she heard the explosion,
Her eyes grew wet and wild.
She raced through the streets of Birmingham
Calling for her child.

She clawed through bits of glass and brick,
Then lifted out a shoe.
"O, here's the shoe my baby wore,
But, baby, where are you?"

Written by Dudley Randall (1914-2000)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Really Good at Heart...

(Click on her name to read NYT article.)
15 February 1909 - 11 January 2010
For more than 20 consecutive years, I taught English Language Arts in a junior high school. Every year, my students read the play based on Anne Frank's diary. Considering I
may have had as many as five classes during the day, I must have read the the closing lines of the play well over a hundred times along with students. Every time it became more and more real to me, and more difficult to keep my composure. The more I read the play and discussed it with classes, the more I realized how many similar stories we would never know. First I honor and thank the darling, vibrant Anne who wrote so faithfully in her diary and the family and friends who populated the pages of that diary and the famous Annex in Amsterdam. But today, especially, I honor and thank, along with people all over the world, Miep Gies. She not only helped the Frank family and friends survive their ordeal for over two years, but she gathered up the strewn pages of a young girl's dreams, hopes, and wise insights after all were arrested. Later she presented it to Otto Frank as "Anne's legacy." Indeed, it has been a priceless legacy to the free world. Surely, Miep served as an inspiration for Anne's words:
"Despite everything, I believe that people are really good at heart."

Friday, January 8, 2010

The King & I: In Dixieland where we were born....

image by Andy Warhol

Whenever I hear Elvis sing his An American Trilogy...and the words

"in Dixieland where I was born
early, Lord, one frosty morning"

...then I must admit, I really do miss the boy! If you have had a TV or radio on or read the paper today, you know it is his 75th birthday. The TODAY show had a feature on him, and the day is young yet. I am sure America will never get over him, but some years these features have been sparse, like one birthday when all I heard of him was on a local radio station: "This morning an Elvis impersonator was spotted at the Dunkin' Donuts Shop in Columbus, GA." I remember sharing with The Colonel ( mine not Elvis's Col. Parker) that it was an all time low for the King, and his reply was pointed: "How do they know it was an impersonator?" The King lives!

Elvis has just always been part of the rock and roll musical scene, a backdrop to my tastes as I cut my teeth on the likes of Bob Dylan and The Beatles. I do remember playing his Heartbreak Hotel on my older sister's RCA 45 rpm little record player when I was a pre-schooler, and she was a classic fifties teenie bopper! I think I was in the first grade when I used to entertain my family with my own version of You Ain't Nothing but a Hound Dog!

Indeed, it was a frosty morning today. By the time I drove out for school, the temperature was 18 with a wind chill factor of 9! And that was at 10:00 because school had been delayed two hours! As usual, all the speculation about impending snow and ice, scared it away! We were just on the line BELOW it all! As I drove toward Georgia, I thought of all the places that did have snow and even colder temperatures in the South. I thought of the tiny one room shotgun house I had seen in Tupelo, Mississippi: The Elvis Presley Birthplace. I thought of his twin brother who died. And I thought of the little hospital near Birmingham where I was born. And I thought of my mother, who very nearly died in the weeks before she delivered me. Then I remembered that it was Andy Warhol who had said that every one has his fifteen minutes of fame. But because of the sun, the moon, and stars and January 8th, I get that fifteen minutes every year!
You see, dear readers, the King and I share a birthday.

self-portrait by FireLight
in the style of Warhol
Happy Birthday, Elvis Pelvis ...


Thank YOU very much!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Water & Woods & Winter

On New Year's Day my younger son and I drove from Auburn to the southwest Georgia pine plantation owned and meticulously managed by a life long friend and her husband. It is a beautiful drive through miles of cotton fields, pecan orchards, and quaint Southern towns like Parrot and nearby Plains. We arrived just after two with a big pot of chili and cornbread, so my son served as the First Footer at the house! (If you go to the link, view the entire card or choose "skip to end" then click on New Year's Customs.) No, he did not carry in coals or a yule log, but plenty of food and smiles! And since he had not met the man of the house, he filled the bill of tall, dark stranger! The cold weather was beginning to set in. After enjoying the soup, we had a quick ride around the property to feed the catfish and watch for deer slipping out to feed in one of the many food plots planted in oats. The catfish weren't shy, plenty of "whiskers and lips" appeared on the water's surface. However, the deer were more elusive, and we just managed to catch a glimpse of a few white tails retreating into the trees. Had we been willing to brave the cold, there were numerous observation stands where we might have held a vigil, but the warmth of the wood panelled custom home was much too appealing after just over an hour of braving the wind and cold. Next morning, I was a up and outdoors to catch the sunrise (above) on the horizon. Click on any photo to enlarge, especially the hay rake!

Turning behind me to the west I could still see the moon in the morning sky!

Parked near the drive is this charming old hay rake complemented by a fading rose bush.
I love the glowing morning light in this image. I took several photos here which will be worthy of a single post. The hay rake is possibly from the early 1900's and would have been horse drawn.

Here is a close up of the primary tree at Newman Plantation: long leaf pine.

Across the large fish pond, a thriving stand of long leaf.

These folks really like to spoil their outdoor pets: Oats, my deers?

Deeper into the woods is Warrior Creek, overflowing its banks. Even with the barren trees of winter, it is easy to see the results of the life giving rain and its waters. This is a beautiful sight after nearly three years of drought.

My header is another image from this water, woods, and winter 2010!


About Me

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Recreational scholar, former high school and junior college English teacher. Animal lover (especially horses, dogs, and people), live in the South, sometimes poet and essayist... "Ireland, Scotland, Britain, and Wales...I can hear those ancient voices calling..." Van Morrison from Celtic Heartbeat