Friday, June 29, 2007

Lily of the Valley

I love lily of the valley plants. And, the smell! It is absolutely wonderful. I don't think I'll ever be able to afford them, but several big designers use the lily of the valley scent as their base for their brand perfumes. If you recognize the smell, you know what I mean. (At least, I think most people love it!)

For the first time since I moved into my house 4 years ago, I was able to take time to enjoy them this past spring, bring some into my house, and give them to friends. I especially love collecting and displaying the flowers in old cut crystal glasses. They seem just perfect for holding the pointed leaves and small dainty flowers. I guess the old glasses just remind me of Grandma and Uncle Clair who use to point out the flowers to me.

When I first moved into the house, there was a small grouping in one of the landscaped flower beds by my back door. I hardly noticed them back then. But, since that spring... LOOK OUT! And, now, they're choking everything else in the area. So, this weekend, I'm going to do my best to go rescue a few plants and small shrubs that are being squeezed to death...and make way for the lilies of the valley to keep pushing on. It's amazing how they spread. So, if anyone is looking for a pretty ground cover - especially in a partly shady to shady spot, lily of the valley is a good option that is often overlooked. It won't cover overnight... but in just a few years, it is amazing what it does. And, if you keep the plants watered from time to time, the leaves stay a nice deep green until fall. Sadly, the flowers are present only a short time in late spring and early summer.

At the same time of rescuing other plants, I am trying to come up with an easy, inexpensive, and effective way of stopping the lilies from moving in certain directions so they won't make everything else in that flower bed die. The secret is that lilies of the valley spread through their rhizomes and/or stolons that shoot out under ground. (It's the same situation with ferns.) So, I have to find some sort of sturdy barrier, dig holes/trenches for them, and then hope the underground horizontal stems don't find a way around, over and under them. It's no wonder that some identify lilies of the valley as weeds. What a project!

I'll also be moving some to areas which need a cover. And, if anyone reading this would like some, please let me know. I've got plenty to spare.

Some interesting (or not-so-interesting) facts:
* Lily of the Valley is also called by many other names, namely May Bells, May Lily, Ladder to Heaven, Lily Constancy, Convall-lily, Jacob's Ladder, Male Lily, Our Lady's Tears, Muguet and Convallaria majalis, its scientific classification.
* Around September, the plants develope a red berry which conceals a hard seed.
* In the 16th and 17th century, lilies of the valley were often used medicinally and are still used for some herbal remedies today. It was used to treat victims of mustard gas in WWI. In the 15th century, scholars believed it improved memory. But, in large doses, it is poisonous and affects heart function... so individuals with rather hungry pets and children should beware!
* In a rare variety, its blooms are pink.
* On May 1 (France's Labor Day), it is a tradition for the French to go pick wild Lily of the Valley (muguet, to them). The idea is to go out for a good walk, enjoy the spring weather, and bring the wonderful scent back to your home.
* In the Victorian book, The Language of Flowers, the lily of the valley is said to represent the return of happiness.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Case By Case Basis

This is mostly for Mom - just so she can see the two sets of pillowcases that I am preparing to ship out with other wedding presents to two couples who recently got married. I think this is the 8th and 9th set of pillowcases on which I've embroidered monograms this year. I am feeling quite a bit behind and need to finish a few more VERY soon. It is relaxing for me to sit and embroider a little while in the evenings before bed, while listening to sermons, on my lunch hour... I guess I pack the embroidering in more frequently when I feel I'm under a time crunch. But, usually, I do it just a few of evenings a week. I attempt to pick a design/ style that reminds me of the couple, so here's sort of a modern P and a very flowery M. Hope the two couples will enjoy them, and I hope to make a trip to the store next week to pick up some new pillowcases.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Get A Clue!

After much waiting, I am excited to see that one of my favorite shows returns to the air this evening for its fifth season on PBS. It is History Detectives. Please check your local listings for air times in your neck of the woods.

Here's the preview for the first episode:

EPISODE 1 - JUNE 25, 2007

3D Cuban Missile Crisis
Did this portable projection screen help save the Free World? ...More

Amos n' Andy Record
Is this aluminum record with the words "Amos and Andy" hand-written on its label an early recording of the old-time radio series? ...More

Women's Suffrage Painting
What role did this watercolor painting play in securing women the right to vote? ... More

Sometimes, the artifacts that are brought to the History Detectives have held an important place in our history, live up the story that has been handed down in a family for generations, or provide clues to solve other mysteries. Then, again, sometimes the artifacts do not do any of those. However, no matter the final outcome - one can learn a lot through the detective's research.

Speaking of mysteries... I think I am beginning to solve a few. If I have my facts straight (and I'm working hard on checking the family trees), the individuals listed below are a few of the "famous people" to whom I'm "related." (So, please insert the word "supposedly" before reading each relationship... as I am pretty sure. Just not 100% sure.) Some of these really crack me up! To me, all of this is not very important but somewhat interesting.

Anna Tuthill Symmes Harrison - wife of our ninth President, William Henry Harrison She is my third cousin, nine times removed. That means her grandson, Benjamin Harrison, the 23rd President of the United States, is my fifth cousin, seven times removed.

George Soule - My 13th great grand uncle was one of the original 102 pilgrims to land in Plymouth. His sister, (my direct ancestor) Sarah Soule Hinckley, arrived in the United States with her husband, Samuel, and four of her children on the ship Hercules in 1635.

James Abram Garfield - The 20th President of the United States is my fifth cousin, seven times removed.

Also, William Howard Taft (seventh cousin, six times removed), Richard Milhous Nixon (eighth cousin, five times removed), and Ronald Wilson Reagan (ninth cousin, five times removed).

Maybe less notably, Mark Twain (fifth cousin, seven times removed), Amelia Earhart (seventh cousin, four times removed), Orville and Wilbur Wright (seventh cousins, five times removed), and Walt Whitman (seventh cousin, six times removed)... in addition to Edgar Lee Masters, Humphrey Bogart, JP Morgan, Louisa May Alcott, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Lucille Ball, Helen Keller, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Service Medals

When Mom found out that I was starting to dabble in genealogy, she remembered that she had some sheets of paper that outlined the Washburn family history. And, those seven sheets of paper have been fascinating to read. The earliest details of the history were recorded in a family bible that was given to my great great great grandmother, Martha Kinsey Washburn, by her mother, my great great great great grandmother, Esther Kinsey. (I'm still working on tracking down her maiden name.)

Then, after that information was recorded, several other family members worked together to chronicle the family moves, marriages, births, and deaths for all of the family from 1835 leading up to my mom's generation. And, now, I am trying to do my part in continuing the history by tracking down some of my 4th cousins around the country. I am hoping they will respond.

As was mentioned in yesterday's post, I was always curious about Grandad's involvement in the service and World War II. Mom has explained that Grandad was always hesitant to talk about it anyway, and that is understandable. But, I wondered if he moved around a lot, what he saw in Europe, and where he even started his training. Even though I wasn't able to speak to him about it by the time I knew to ask him, thankfully, the family history has preserved his involvement:

Loren graduated from Wapella High School in 1936 and entered military service on April 21, 1941 at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Went to Spartanburg, South Carolina for basic training and was assigned to the 28th Division at Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania. Was on maneuvers in South Carolina two months and was en route back to Pennsylvania on December 7, 1941 when war was declared. Went to Louisiana for several months and then to Florida and from there, Virginia. Went to Wales in November 1943 and went all over England. Went over the Channel to Normandy Beach in France June 18, 1944 and was wounded in action in August 1944 and flown back to England. (Strem Notes: As I understand it, he landed 12 days after the initial entry into Normandy. (D-Day, June 6, 1944) The entire assault and plan to take control of northwestern Europe had the codename Operation Overlord. This ran from June 6, 1944 through August 19, 1944. The initial phase - in which Grandad was involved - was aimed to gain foothold on the continent and was named Operation Neptune. This operation lasted from June 6, 1944 through June 30, 1944.) Spent six months in England in the hospital recovering from wounds and returned to the States on the Queen Mary to a hospital in Spokane, Washington in January 1945 and discharged from the hospital on July 30, 1945. Shipped to Miami Beach, Florida and then separation center company at Fort Sheridan, Illinois in August 1945. Honorably discharged as Sergeant at Fort Sheridan September 22, 1945 and returned home.

A few times, I've seen his service medals. But, I never understood what each of them represented. So, since I've heard a lot about these in books and movies... and believed that you might have done so also, I thought I would list some of his here - along with links to information I could find about them.

Pre-Pearl Harbor Badge (also called American Defense Service Medal)

Good Conduct Medal

Combat Infantry Badge

European Theatre of Operations (letter m at this site)(2 Battle Stars)

American Theatre of Operations (letter k at this site)

Purple Heart (pictured above)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Grandad's Grin

This is my Grandad. I know his name is probably supposed to be spelled Granddad - with 3 Ds in the name. But, we always spelled it Grandad, and he had 7 grandchildren. He was known as Dad by 3 children, including my mom. He was the loving husband of 2 wonderful wives, and most knew him by his given name, Loren Washburn. But, back when he was in the service, Grandad's name was "Squint."

When Grandad really smiled, his eyes disappeared into lines, and that lovely feature has been handed down to several of the Washburn descendants. So, when we really smile, our eyes truly show it!

My Grandma Dorothy Washburn died when I was very young, and it has been sad to have missed the opportunity to really know her. But, one thing's for sure...and the pictures prove it. When she was around him, he REALLY smiled.

After Grandma's death, Grandad didn't seem to smile so much. But, I liked to try to make him smile. And, Mom and Dad would work it out so that I could go stay with him for a few days at a time. We always had a routine, and there were several things I could count on during my visits:

* Watching Grandad take out his false teeth at night and putting them back in when we got ready to go somewhere. I was fascinated by them - sitting there in a little dish. Rows of teeth. I'd peer over the sink to stare at them. Sometimes, Grandad had to ask me what was taking so long in the bathroom. I had never seen anything like them before, and at first, they concerned me. But, I remember asking Grandad if he could smile without his teeth - just to make sure. And, sure enough, he was able to do so! That was a huge relief.

* He often had those big, squishy orange candy circus peanuts to eat. Maybe it had something to do with Grandad's false teeth. But, I got hooked on them. I now haven't had them for years, but whenever I see them in the store, I immediately think of him sitting in the kitchen and the two of us sharing the treats together.

* Grandad had milk in glass bottles! Just plain strange. We were always able to drink pop at his house, but we never had pears. Grandad couldn't stand them. His silverware had slim wooden handles, and the toast was always made with WHITE bread. Also strange. (But, it always tasted so delicious to me and seemed like something extra special.)

* I loved to watch Grandad comb his hair before we "went out for a drive." I don't know what he put in it, but later in the day, I could look at him and see the comb marks preserved in his hair.

* When we "went out for a drive," that's exactly what we did: drive and drive and drive... I guess Grandad was always looking at the crops. He was a farmer, and I felt like we were driving by pretty much nothing. But, he seemed really interested.

* After our drives in the country, we'd go into town and stop at The Shack, the local diner, or the Dixie Truck Stop. I thought it was wonderful to sit on the stools up by the counter with Grandad. It always seems like everyone knew Grandad, and they'd come up and talk. About farming, mostly. There would always be a lot of teasing, and Grandad's squinty grin would be in full force again. (Of course, his teeth would always be back in by that time! Thankfully!)

* When Grandad wasn't eating, he was usually smoking. I was so used to it at that time that it didn't bother me. But, when I stayed with him, I'd sometimes play with his cigarette wrappers and his carton boxes. Then, when it was time to take out the trash, I'd collect all of them and "help" Grandad carry out the trash to the burning place. He'd let me put papers in the wire holder, but as soon as Grandad got ready to light the trash, he made me go stand up by the house. Even that far away, I'd love to watch the little paper ashes float up in the air.

There are so many memories I have about Grandad, and I loved my visits with him. When I was in early gradeschool, I was excited to see that Grandad showed up at my birthday party... and brought a very special friend. She was extremely kind to all of our family from the start, and eventually, she became my "Grandma Emma." Grandad was smiling widely once again.

Unfortunately, at the end of my gradeschool years, Grandad became very sick with cancer, and he went through a lot of suffering. There were a lot of years when I really wanted to talk to him, ask him about Grandma Dorothy, ask him about the service and WWII, and reminisce about our visits... but he just couldn't. He was either in too much pain or too groggy from the medicine trying to control the pain. In the latter years, he didn't recognize Mom - let alone all of us grandchildren. I prayed I could somehow find a way to take away the pain and help him smile - just as I had tried so hard to do when he was heartsick so many years before. Sadly, he passed away the summer after my freshman year in high school, and so many things were left unspoken.

Because of my recent dabblings in genealogy, I have been blessed to obtain many photos of my family members, and they are wonderful. The photos provide answers to so many questions, but they create questions about even more topics. I love that I've been able to see the not-so-formal pictures. You know, the ones where someone's hair is sticking out a little on one side. Or, a child is crying or someone is experiencing a full belly laugh. I'm able to see someone's hands.... the creases, the strength, the years of hard work. These photos fill in the gaps between the photographer family studio photos that are taken every 5 to 10 years, and in these candid shots, I am able to see the unique family traits that have been transferred down generation by generation. Oftentimes when I see my mom, my brother, or my cousins smile, it reminds me of my Grandad.... and I long to see his grin in person again. Those squinty eyes. The wholehearted laugh. Thankfully, I have these photos to help me remember, and I anxiously wait to see on what family member his grin will materialize next. The eyes tell it all.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Back Home Again From Indiana

After making the trip over for a wonderful weekend at the Indiana Fellowship Meeting, it is good to be home. But, it was difficult to leave church on Sunday. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind, and I was dreading the end of services - just as I dreaded the end of services of our own annual meeting the weekend before. (Already, it seems like that meeting was months ago.) That's the sad part about re-entering the "real world" each week... going back to work... dealing with the usual burdens of schedules, finances, traffic, errands... struggling to ignore the distractions that pull us away from God. But, the sermons, singing, and fellowship of weekend meetings and worship every Sunday do wonders for the soul in helping one remember what is important despite those struggles. Helping one remember Who to lean on in the midst of those struggles. Helping one remember Who will help in overcoming those struggles.

Thankfully, I was able to go to Sacred Harp singing last night, so the re-entry into the world was a little less jolting than usual. What a blessing it is to me to be able to sing praises, and it's even more wonderful when we have good friends with whom to lift our voices. I had missed Sacred Harp the last two times this past month. So, despite my tiredness of body, the singing did wonders for the tiredness of spirit that I felt from Monday.

Less seriously...

On Sunday morning, Miss Tressa and I spent some time out on the back deck with the cute kitties on the farm. As we looked across the road, Tressa was excited to see the giant "sprinkler" in the field (a.k.a. irrigation system.) So, when we headed back to the Mikel house that afternoon after services to pack up the cars, we were excited to see that the "sprinkler" had moved all of the way down the field and was then providing a nice spray of water onto the nearby country road.
Naturally, on that hot, sunny day, we all took a turn - in church clothes and all - and had quite a fun time together. (We're thankful we weren't wearing any "dry clean only.") Rian remained in the safety zone back on the porch. Abi wasn't quite sure about it at first but loved it in the end. Then, we headed inside to change our clothes for the six-hour ride home.

After our goodbyes, we were on our way. But, we didn't get too far before taking a picture of the Incredible Inedible Egg in nearby Mentone. (I thought our good friend jsarber would enjoy seeing this "highlight" of our driving trip. Yiiippppeee!) This egg is listed along with two others on the site for Roadside America. All are battling it out to be the "world's largest egg". You can also check out the site for more information on the battle of the cows, chairs, Popeye tributes, watermelons, and water towers with smiley faces. If you're setting out on a road trip, you might want to consult this site. You never know fabulous or unusual attraction could be hiding just a few miles off the beaten path.

P.S. Thanks to Elder Mike Montgomery, this weekend, I also learned a new word: ignominious.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Say What?

This week, a co-worker told me that one of his family members had conjugal heart failure (not congenital heart failure - condition present at birth) Sadly, I know more than a few marriages that might lead to heart failure. :)

At the beginning of May, I began another list of words I discovered in my reading but of which I didn't know the meanings. I also found a few terms/ words that seem to have now become (incorrectly) common, and I had no idea I was mispronouncing them or using them in an incorrect way.

cardsharp: OK, I knew this one from long ago. But, I often catch myself saying cardshark. (Not that I say it frequently!)

diphtheria: Honestly, until this week, I didn't realize there was an 'h' after the 'p'.

lambaste: I didn't remember there being an 'e' at the end of this word, but there is one. And, all of the dictionaries I could find list the the long A pronunciation (lam bayst') as the only or preferred version. I didn't know.

schism: I heard someone say (siz-uhm) the other day. So, I looked it up. And, the pronunciation was there in the dictionary... often before the (skiz-uhm) way.

spit and image: I also had no idea that this is considered the original and correct term that one should use when describing an exact likeness to someone else. My research may be incorrect, but it seems that when the term was condensed to 'spit-n-image', others began saying the popular 'spitting image'.

tenterhooks: I don't think I had ever read the word (or paid attention to it) before, but I thought everyone was saying or writing 'tenderhooks'. It now makes sense that "feeling anxious, in suspense" is linked to how tenterhooks would hold fabric on a tenter (cloth frame) while it was being stretched.

Of course, I am also the person who learned how to correctly write "pique my interest" and "whet my apetite" in my post-graduate school years. (I had only heard the phrases and had never written or typed them until then.) So, for those of you who knew all of this and have known this for years, please forgive my ignorance.

I have also learned about the word syncope. (sing' kuh pee)
Definition: the contraction of a word by omitting one or more sounds from the middle, as in the reduction of never to ne'er. More commonly, American pronunciations of interesting (in' trist ing), family (fam' lee), chocolate (chaw' klit), and temperature (temp' er cher) are cited as examples.

After making these discoveries, it seems best that I keep my mouth shut! =)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

House Made With Hands... & Dirt... & Grass...

I'll stop making these crazy posts about Pioneer Village, but I just wanted to post pictures of one more structure: the sod house. The layers are constructed of exactly that - SOD! If some layers started sinking during its creation, I guess they would just add more on top. Can you imagine? Walls made from layers of dirt with grass sticking out. And, it seemed to do wonders in keeping the heat out the day we visited. Hope it did just the same for the cold. This house - like a few others in the village - consisted of only two small rooms: one for eating and reading.... and one for sleeping. No matter how many family members lived there. Belongings were kept for only what a family absolutely needed. It's amazing how times have changed - and not necessarily for the good.

Apple of My Eye

Mom and I truly enjoyed walking around the homes within Pioneer Village because most of them were furnished with the original furniture and belongings of the families who once resided there. While many of the buildings exhibited signs of water damage and shifting (maybe during the move to the site), the wear and tear seemed like nothing compared to the beauty that was also displayed in each room: ornate wallpaper, intricately woven carpet, handmade braided rugs, embroidered pillowcases and table runners, and the oh-so-beautiful quilts.

The kitchen (above) was filled with beautiful embroidery and furnishings from when the family last lived in the house. This quilt, however, was displayed upstairs in the home of H. J. Ludlow with some of the older family heirlooms, and I would love to know the name of the pattern if you or anyone in your family knows it. Since I'm having difficulties with quilting simple squares, this seems like a lot of work. But, it is an interesting pattern.

Mr. H. J. Ludlow is known up north for "giving the Okabena Apple to the world." He named the apple the Okabena after the lake on which his farm fronted. Okabena is a Native American term and means "Home of the Heron."

Mr. Ludlow does not claim to be the originator of the apple. Mr. G. J. Hoffman, a trapper and the first known settler to live through a winter near Lake Okabena, receives that credit. In 1868, Mr. Hoffman homesteaded the area. In 1880, he purchased a pint of seed from Mr. Peter Gideon who is said to have originated the Wealthy Apple variety. And, the seeds he received were a mixture of Wealthy and Duchess Apple seeds. Three years later, after becoming disgusted with the harsh winters, Mr. Hoffman sold his farm to Mr. Ludlow so that his family could move to the warmer climate of California.

Soon after Mr. Ludlow took possession, the small seedlings that Mr. Hoffman planted started to develop, and one in particular gave promise of yielding fruit of superior quality. In the coming years, the new apple started receiving attention from horticulturalists, and Mr. Ludlow's apples began receiving one prize after another.

I could not find many current references to the Okabena Apple outside of Minnesota, so I cannot provide a picture of one. (Have you ever heard of it?) However, this is how it is was described, along with much of the history of this family in the September 19, 1929 "Worthington Globe": The Okabena Apple is about the size, color and flavor of its parent, the Duchess; however it is somewhat more flattened in shape, a little finer grained and will easily keep a month or two longer. The tree is quite hardy and is a precocious bearer. (Below are a couple of quotes from Mr. Ludlow about his apple business.)

I have an apple tree in my back yard, but no one has yet been able to identify the variety. I do not think the tree will yield any fruit this year because of our late, harsh frost, but hopefully, someday, I can take an apple or two to one of the nearby orchard owners. All of this was just a reminder that I have no idea what apples are best for what cooking projects.... and I have no idea where they were first found. Each time I go to the store, I must rely on the little signs that are above each variety to see which ones are best for pies, applesauce, baked apples or eating raw.

Here are the ones that are most common in the stores and roadside stands around this area, and this is what my research has uncovered:

  • Red Delicious: Found in Peru, IA as a "chance seedling" of Mr. J Hiatt. First sold in 1874. Red, crisp apple that is great for snacking or in salads.
  • Golden Delicious: Clay County, WV in 1914. Thought to be a mix between Golden Reinette and Grimes Golden. Great all-purpose yellow apple.
  • Gala: Pink-ish peach stripes over yellow background. New Zealand. Sold in 1965. Good for snacking and salads. Crisp, sweet, and aromatic.
  • Fuji: 1962 in Japan. Full of flavor and holds its texture when it is baked. Used in baking and salads. Reddish-pink skin.
  • Granny Smith: Green, tart, and crisp. A favorite of pie bakers, it was discovered in 1868 in Australia. Thought to be a form of French crabapples that were grown by grandmother Maria Ann Smith.
  • Jonagold: Juicy, orange-tinted apple used for snacking, salads and pies. Introduced to the market in 1968 in New York as a cross between Jonathan Gold and Golden Delicious. Tangy-sweet.
  • Cameo: Sweet with a crunch. Red with characteristic white spots. First sold in 1987 after being found as a "chance seedling" in Dryden, WA. Holds its texture for long periods.

So, does your family have a favorite apple to eat fresh from the tree (or store)? Or, does grandma use only one certain kind to make her pies? Do you have apples that are very common in your area that aren't listed here?

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nobles County Pioneer Village

As was mentioned, Mom and I visited the Pioneer Village in Worthington, MN. The Pioneer Village was begun in 1958 when the Nobles County Historical Society purchased the one room schoolhouse that had been closed since 1944. Soon after, the society decided that other buildings should be on display to show the county's historical roots. And, two and one half acres were purchased to display buildings that were donated to or purchased by the society. Today, it features 49 structures.

If you'd like to see a map of the village or pictures of the structures' exteriors, click here. However, the items that were found inside of each building were what were most fascinating. My descriptions won't do it justice, but here's a short list and some pictures of just a portion of the items we saw:

peacock feathered hats, rows and rows of false teeth (specifically designed for men and for women), hearse carriage, steam powered engine, threshing machine, old post office boxes, a jail cell, shoe shine stations, train ticket office, antique surgical tools, printing presses, general store filled with anything and everything, horse-drawn fire engine, postal carriage, telegraph office, town hall stage, and every kind of machine shop, blacksmith, carpentry and leathercraft tool you could imagine...

Click on the images to enlarge them. The entrance, sign about Worthington (grasshopper plague?), and views of the village...

At the bank window, the general store, the hearse coach, the piano at the school...and Mom in JAIL????

Maybe she had been causing a ruckus down at the ol' saloon!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Teaching the Old School Way

On our trip to Minnesota, we approached the town of Worthington where we'd be meeting my aunt and uncle. As we drove to the 3rd exit on the west side, I became very excited when I looked down from the interstate and spotted a group of little buildings on the county fairgrounds. It looked like a small town taken straight from the past. The next sign advertised "Pioneer Village," and I asked if we could visit it sometime during the weekend. On Sunday afternoon, Mom and I were finally able to go, and we had a nice time going through the shops, church buildings, and homes that were set up by the local historical society. I'll try to post other pictures from Pioneer Village, but our experience at the one room schoolhouse was especially interesting to us.

Posted near the door was the following Teachers' Contract from 1923:

This is an agreement between Miss xx, teacher and the BOARD OF EDUCATION of the xxx school. Whereby Miss xx agrees to teach in the xxx School for a period of eight months, beginning Sept. 1, 1923. The Board of Education agreeds to pay Miss xx the sum of ($75.00) per month.

Miss xx agrees:
1. Not to get married. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher marries.
2. Not to keep company with men.
3. Not to loiter downtown in ice cream stores.
4. To be home between the hours of 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. unless in attendance at a school function.
5. Not to leave town at any time without permission of the board of trustees.
6. Not to smoke cigarettes. The contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found smoking.
7. Not to drink beer, wine, or whiskey. This contract becomes null and void immediately if the teacher is found drinking beer, wine, or whiskey.
8. Not to ride in a carriage or automobile with any man except her brother or father.
9. Not to dress in bright colors.
10. Not to dye her hair.
11. To wear at least two petticoats.
12. Not to wear dresses more than two inches above the ankles.
13. To keep the school room clean:
a. To sweep the classroom floor at least once daily.
b. To scrub the classroom floor at least once weekly with hot water and soap.
c. To clean the blackboard at least once daily.
d. To start the fire at 7:00 so the room will be warm at 8:00 when the children arrive.
14. Not to use face powder, mascara or paint on the lips.

So, ladies and gentlemen, what do you think? I don't know about you, but I think I've already broken almost every rule.... except a few obvious ones. :)

Monday, June 04, 2007

Automatic Update Notice (PING!)

Several of you blog readers use a site that notifies you of changes to the blogs of your friends. That way, you don't have to log in at Blogger and check blogs day after day (or several times a day) to see if others have made an entry.

These types of sites either send you an email with an alert of a new post or actually send you the post (with or without pictures.) Some are much better than others.

To those of you using these services: Would you please share which site you use? And, would you please share why you do (or do not) enjoy that particular site's features? Please include the site address, if possible, so others may check it out!

Funny Connection

Just thought I'd mention a funny connection I noticed last week. As mentioned, the Little Brown Church in the Vale is a favorite spot for weddings - so much so that the church members host an annual reunion which welcomes couples who would like to renew their vows. The first Sunday in August this year (August 5) will be the 55th reunion.

Want to guess what the main course is for the picnic lunch? MAID-RITES. After all, the church is located in Iowa!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Hooverville: West Branch, IA

By the generations that survived the Great Depression, President Herbert Clark Hoover is often viewed unfavorably. Many hold him responsible for the events that led to (or that didn't prevent) the stock market crash, and he's disliked even more for the fact that his programs didn't offer economic relief to the country in the early 30's. The dislike even went as far as calling the poorest shanty towns "Hoovervilles" and throwing rotten food at the president during his 1932 re-election campaign.

However, another Hooverville exists in West Branch, Iowa - a town that accepts the term as extremely complimentary. The citizens of West Branch see President Hoover as a fine native son of their community and are proud of his policies based in volunteerism and local community action. That town is the location of the Herbert Hoover National Historic Site.

On our trip back home, we were able to make a quick stop in West Branch to visit the grounds of the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum. While there, one may learn about the lives of President Hoover and his wife, Lou Henry Hoover.

Also situated on the grounds is President Hoover's birthplace: a small two room cottage. Born on August 10, 1874, Hoover was orphaned by age 9 after the early death of his father in 1880 and his mother in 1883. At that time, he moved to Oregon to live with his uncle.

Behind the library, in a pretty park, I ran up the path to the gravesite of Mr. and Mrs. Hoover. 31 years after leaving office, President Hoover passed away in New York City on October 20, 1964 at the age of 90, and he was given a full state funeral. (It was the third state funeral in one year's time as it was directly after the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Douglas MacArthur.)

Born into a Quaker family, Hoover's beliefs directed his social, economic, and political efforts in directions that were quite contrary to those of his contemporaries. Here is a picture of the historical Quaker (or Friends) Meeting House that is located on the site. A distinguishable feature of the older structures used by Quakers is the presence of two doors: one for use by the men and one for use by the women. In fact, many of the older meeting houses include a partition which is pulled down from the ceiling or pulled across from one side so that the men and women may hold separate business meetings.

I've now been to the presidential libraries for Abraham Lincoln and Herbert Hoover (probably the two closest to us), and I hope to see many more. Have you been to any presidential libraries? Do you remember your favorite part or the most fascinating piece of information that you learned while there?