From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Friday, July 29, 2011

1920 Rules for Health and Beauty for Girls

Advice for girls by Maude Foote Crow


My mother was born in 1923. By the time she was a teenager in the late 1930s, some rules in this list might have already seemed a bit old-fashioned. Still, many of these rules are still sound advice today.

Bodily Carriage

  • Hold the head erect.
  • Keep the chest high.
  • Hold the abdomen in.
  • Rest the weight of the body on the balls of the feet.
  • Keep this position constantly, by day and by night.
  • When lying down, stretch out; do not curl up.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Old Tag Game: Three Deep

Did you play this, as a child?


Here's a game I remember playing at Vacation Bible School when I was growing up. I think we played it at VBS because that was one of the few times when we had enough kids together to make this game really fun!

In this game, the players are arranged in groups of two. All but one of the couples form a big circle facing toward the center, each couple with one player behind the other. There should be good wide spaces between the couples.

One of the two free players is chosen to chase the other. They run around outside the circle. If the one chased is tagged, he becomes the one to do the chasing. At any time, the one who is being pursued may run into the circle and take his place in front of one of the standing couples. This makes that group "three deep" and the third or outside player of the group must immediately leave it to be chased until he either is tagged or causes someone else to be chased by stopping in his turn in front of one of the couples.

If the game is played long enough and with frequent changes, everyone will have a chance to run.

It is not permitted to run across the circle, and the runner may only go into it at the point where he stops in front of a couple. Nor is it permissible for a third man to go directly to the couple immediately to the left or the right of the one he has left. He must run a bit at least. This game makes for alertness and speed in running and is good fun.

Source: Mabie, Hamilton Wright, Edward Everett Hale, and William Byron Forbush. The Young Folks Treasury Vol. X: Ideal Home Life. New York: The University Society, 1919. Print. This excerpt is from p. 159.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Black Residents of the West Fork Community

Barker's Mill area of southeastern Christian County, KY


 I wrote this about 2 years ago, when I was exploring the history of the Barker's Mill area of Christian County, KY. I'm not sure why I didn't post it at the time. Maybe I thought my readers were getting bored with Barkers Mill. Anyway, I came across it last night, and I thought it was sort of interesting.  For background, see these posts:

 Barker's Mill in Christian County, KY
Old Homes Around Barkers Mill
Exploring the Barkers Mill Community 
Chapel Hill Church in Christian County, KY

Originally, much of the labor on the large farms in the area of Barker's Mill was provided by slaves. After the Civil War, many black people continued to work and live on the farms where they had been slaves. This happened in many areas of Christian County, and indeed, throughout the entire South.

Farm laborers are plentiful in [Christian] county, largely furnished by the colored population, of which there are about fifteen thousand in the county, and I must say to their credit, they make the best every-day farm laborers we are able to get. The average price of farm labor per month with house and board is, for men, $11 to $12.50; without board, $15.

Source: The 1908 Handbook of Kentucky

In the 20th century, some black workers become sharecroppers, which was a step up from being farm hands. There were many white sharecroppers as well. Sharecroppers owned their own farm machinery, tools, and draft animals, and they were considered self-employed.

Tobacco was often grown on "the share plan", as it is called in period writings. The landowner provided a house, a garden spot, and grass for the sharecropper's animals. The sharecropper typically worked about ten acres of tobacco and a field of corn. At harvest, the crop was divided evenly with the landowner. With good soil and favorable weather, the sharecropper might make a modest profit.

In 1900, a school was established for black children near the Barker Mill, and it operated through 1952. A store served the farm workers of the area. It is interesting to read the history of the Barker's Mill (West Fork) Community, knowing that the area was populated by many black families as well as white families.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Sophie Joins the Menagerie

Dog/cat issues slowly resolving



In April, a little Basset hound showed up at my husband's workplace. It was obvious to my husband that she didn't have a home.

Of course, Dennis gave her a few meals. Soon, every time he went outside, the little dog was waiting for him, begging for his attention and affection.

When Dennis came home talking about her, I knew what was bound to happen. Sure enough, in a few days, he called me at work and told me that he had brought the little hound home.

Sophie, as we named her, has never met a human she didn't like. She does well enough as a watchdog, but she's definitely not a guard dog. When the propane-tank painters arrived a few days ago, Sophie barked loudly to announce their arrival.  I walked outside to see what was happening, and Sophie was already lying on the ground, getting her belly scratched by her new friends.

I can't even begin to explain what a change Sophie has made in our cats' lives. They had always gone in and out of the house whenever they wanted, as long as someone was there to open the door for them. Then one day, a dog-monster took up residence in their territory, barking and charging at them whenever they dared to peek out the door. It was traumatizing to them!

The dog/cat situation has improved somewhat.Sometimes Sophie still has the momentary urge to chase the cats, but then she recognizes them and stops. "Oh, it's you again," she seems to think. We read that it is hard for Basset hounds to refrain from chasing cats because they're bred to chase rabbits. Cats resemble rabbits in a Basset's eyes, I guess. At any rate, I'm glad that Sophie has learned that the cats are "house-rabbits" who shouldn't be molested, at least when the people are around.

The cats know that Sophie is asleep at night, so that is their favorite time to slip outside. In the daytime,  Skittles is brave enough to walk in front of Sophie and come into the house. Casper is still a "scaredy-cat" and must be carried through the door if Sophie is present. However, he is slowly growing in confidence. He now understands that he is safe in a human's arms, and he no longer tries to escape and run when Sophie approaches.

Sophie has several interests beyond barking, getting petted, and chasing rabbits. She also likes to take break-of-day walks with Dennis, rearrange her bedding, take naps, and score doggie treats. In other words, she's nearly worthless. :) Her favorite human is Dennis, and she leaps around excitedly and talks eloquently to him when he comes home from work.

At present, Sophie's operations are conducted from a large wooden crate, laid sideways on the porch. This fall, when it's not so hot to work in the shed, I will build her a proper, insulated dog house. I've been studying doghouse plans on the internet.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Hayfield Water Jug

Cool water in a hot place


My dad prepared thoroughly for the haying season. He overhauled all the tractors and hay-making machinery and got each component into the best working order possible. He stockpiled sickle sections and guards, rake teeth, sweep teeth, belts, hoses, tractor gas, oil and grease, hydraulic fluid, and so on. In the back of one of the pickups, he mounted the gas tank for fueling the tractors. He also mounted the wooden carrier that held the big Igloo water cooler where a thirsty hay hand could get a drink.

I didn't participate in the pre-season work in my father's machine shop, but I did make a new hayfield water jug every year. In the hayfield, I worked separately, away from the group that was putting up the cured hay. I was on the mowing machine at the edge of the uncut grass. I needed a personal water jug so I didn't have to travel far to get a drink.

Here's how I made my hayfield jug. I raided Mama's collection of jars and acquired a big glass vinegar or cider bottle. Then, I raided her cloth scraps and acquired some rags and pieces of old jeans.  I wrapped several layers of rags around the bottle, fitting the cloth to the curves, and I tacked the layers in place with enough stitches to hold them together.

Then, I enclosed the bottle in a layer of denim that I cut from the old jeans. I made some  tucks and folds so the denim would fit the bottle's shape, and I sewed it in place as neatly, tightly, and firmly as I could.

I didn't invent this method of making a hayfield jug. I watched my mother make them when I was a little child.

Every day, before I went to the hayfield, I filled my jug with cold water, and I also saturated its cloth shell. When I got to the hayfield, I found a shady place to stash it. The evaporation of the moisture from the cloth wrapper helped keep the water in the jug cool.

In the hayfield on a summer day, the hay crew got hot and dirty. We didn't have air-conditioned cabs on our tractors. The only shade was from our hats. Dust and pollen and chaff stuck to our sweat-dampened skin  and clothing. Sometimes we got off our machinery and worked up an extra sweat by moving hay around by hand or fixing something that was broken. The hottest work of all,  in my experience, was to lie in the prickly grass stubble under my windrower and pull a hot, wet, sappy clog of hay out of the crimper.

Sunbaked, gummy with sweat and dust, my arms green with grass juice after a crimper episode -- then, how sweet it was to pull my still-damp jug from its shady nook and drink deeply. If cool water ran down my face and soaked my shirt as I tipped the jug, it was a well-earned bonus.

By the end of the hay season, the denim cover of the water jug showed hard use. It had been damp to some degree all summer. It had lain on the ground and rolled around on the grimy floor of the pickup truck, day after day. The stitching had come loose in places, releasing odd folds of cloth, and threads had raveled where the cut edges of the denim were exposed. It didn't matter. By then, the water jug had served its purpose.

I would make a new jug next summer, as we prepared again to go to the hayfield.

Thanks for reading this memory of my childhood in the Nebraska Sandhills.

- - - - -

Related:
Hayfields I Have Known
The Hayfield
Newport, Nebraska: Hay Town
Bull Stories
Horse-drawn Hay Rake
Horse-drawn Hay Sweep-Rake

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Butterflies and Coneflowers

Summer sights





As I was photographing these butterflies, they were completely oblivious to my presence. The only thing on their minds was checking each flower for nectar. I really enjoyed seeing them!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Deals by the Pound!

Goodwill Outlet Store in Indianapolis



Keely and I made a fast trip to Indianapolis last week to pick up a car we bought for Isaac on eBay. (If you keep up with the ongoing drama here, you know that our son Isaac wrecked his car in June.) The "new" vehicle is a 2001 Toyota Corolla. It seems to be a pretty good little car, and we hope it will serve him well.

We drove up after work and spent the night in Indianapolis. The next morning, we had a few hours to kill before we could pick up the car, so we decided to visit a Goodwill Outlet Store that we had spotted in the area.

The outlet store occupies one end of a huge warehouse. Goodwill trailers were parked in a line along the wall. When we got out of the car, we saw a sign that made our bargain-loving hearts go thumpity-thump:  "Deals by the Pound!"

Inside, we learned the prices:
$.69/lb. for clothing, housewares, books,  toys, DVDs, and CDs
$.49/lb. for glass
$.99/lb. for paired shoes

(I suppose if you wanted unpaired shoes, they would be $.69/lb!)

The store was a very large room with a very high ceiling. Several dozen shoppers were digging through a jumble of merchandise that was piled in long rows of bins. The bins -- or maybe they should be called tables -- were made of blue plastic, and they were about 4 feet wide, 8 feet long, and 18 inches deep.


Several rows of tables contained heaps of housewares and toys. Tables in another area had piles of  mostly clothing. Against the back wall, I found several tables of  books and magazines. Furniture was arranged in long rows in one corner of the room. I don't think I saw any piece of furniture that was priced over $25, and many items were $10 or less.

As we shopped, Goodwill employees were bringing out new furniture, rolling out new bins, and removing old bins to the back to be refilled. When I saw the process, I understood another sign on the wall: "Please do not shop from rolling bins!" A fellow shopper told us that they change the bins every 2 hours, and for best pickings, you need to be there at changing time.

I didn't have enough patience to dig through the clothing, but Keely found several pairs of work pants for Taurus and some cute toddler outfits for her friend's little girl. I investigated the book bins and was horrified at the way they were tossed in and scrambled around. I rescued a couple of old geography books, a cookbook, a Richard Scarry book of nursery rhymes, a biography of Will Rogers for Dennis, and several others.


We chatted with the lady behind us as we waited to weigh our merchandise at the cash register. She was about 40 years old, and she had a stack of neatly folded clothing in her cart. She said that she lives an hour away, but she likes to come to the outlet every week on her day off. She looks for clothing for her entire family, and she always checks them carefully for stains and other damage before she buys them. She described herself as "addicted."

At the checkout, we pushed our cart onto the scales. We didn't have to sort out any glass or shoes to be weighted separately. Our pile of $.69/lb merchandise, plus the tax, came to about $30. Our heaviest items were the books and a little wooden stepladder. We also had a couple of big wicker baskets, a metal tray, the cloth items that Keely found, some video games -- and more.

The Goodwill Outlet is not for sissies. It's hard-core junk shopping! It would be a good idea to wear gloves or bring hand sanitizer. But I'm sure amazing treasures are found there every day. As we left, a man saw me fiddling with my camera and said, "You found that in here, didn't you?!"  I'm not sure he believed me when I said, "No."


 On the web:
Goodwill Outlet Stores in Indianapolis. (We visited the one on Shadeland Ave.)
Goodwill Outlet Store in Nashville (One of these days!)
Ms Cheap Visits the Goodwill Outlet (Visit the Nashville store via You-Tube.)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Summer in the Country

Seen around Christian County, KY


Butterfly and thistle


This dead tree stands on a hill.
It's a favorite perch for buzzards and hawks.


Last year, cattle were grazing in this field.
Probably the corn will go into ethanol.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Amish Accident in Christian County, KY

Death of child distresses area residents


I photographed a peaceful Amish farm in southern Christian County, KY, last week (image below.)  I'm really not sure what's growing in the little field behind the white fence. The large-leafed plants looked like tobacco to me. but the plants are much closer together in the rows than tobacco is usually planted around here.  


Last week, a tragic event jarred the quiet Amish community that includes this farm. A three-year-old Amish child was killed when a tractor-trailer hit a buggy, south of Hopkinsville on Highway 41-A. Three other family members were life-flighted to Nashville, and are expected to survive. One of the horses pulling the buggy was killed. The accident took place at about 8:30 p.m. It is not fully dark at that time.

The truck driver who hit the buggy is suspected of being under the influence of some drug, according to the Kentucky New Era's report of the accident.  He is being held in the Christian County jail while urine and blood tests are completed.* Charges against him currently include murder, criminal mischief, and assault.

This is not the first time that Amish buggies have been involved in accidents along Highway 41-A. It's a busy 4-lane highway, but the Amish venture onto it in horse-drawn vehicles, sometimes even after dark. Signs along the highway warn that buggies may be traveling the route, and the buggies nearly always have slow-moving-vehicle warning triangles, and many use battery-powered flashing lights after dark. Despite these precautions, accidents happen, and the accidents are always distressing to the community at large.

Not surprisingly, public sentiment is running high in the aftermath of this tragedy. The Kentucky New Era's report has 85 comments, ranging from sympathy for the Amish to intolerance and outright hatred of them. The accident is also being discussed on the Hoptown Hall (local internet forum).

Personally, I'm in the "everyone-needs-to-be-more-careful" camp. As one KNE commenter wrote, this accident happened to involve a buggy, but any slow-moving vehicle, on the road at that moment, was at risk of being rear-ended by this driver. It could just as easily have been a farmer on a tractor or someone on a bicycle.

*On August 27, 2011, the Kentucky New Era reported that the truck driver's blood and urine tests showed no evidence of drug or alcohol intoxication. The truck driver's attorney, Rick Boling, stated that he believes his client was involved in a simple automobile accident, not reckless driving or wanton endangerment or anything more serious.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Crazy Summer of '92

July 4, 1992 remembered


In 1987, we went to Germany with AAFES (the Army Air Force Exchange Service, my husband's employer). We spent two years in the Aschaffenburg area (south of Frankfurt) and three years in Berlin.  The July 4 weekend  of 2011 is the 19th anniversary of our return to the U.S. from Germany.

Leaving Berlin


We lived in military housing when we first arrived in Berlin. Our apartment there was decent, but about 18 months before we left, we were moved to a spacious apartment in a lovely, brand-new building. We had playgrounds and a small shopping district within walking distance, and bus service practically to our door. We liked where we lived. And we had friends in Berlin -- church friends, German friends, and military friends. When AAFES gave us orders to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, it was hard to leave Berlin.

Keely was five years old and Isaac had just turned two. Dennis had to work full-time until the last few days before we left, so much of the work of preparing for our PCS (Permanent Change of Station) fell to me. I didn't get much sleep during the last few days. On our departure date, July 3, I lay down on a bare mattress at 2 a.m. for a nap. We got up at 4 a.m. and left for the airport at 5 a.m.

I was so exhausted that I don't remember many details of the long flight back to the US. I guess the children were good. I don't remember. Maybe Dennis was entertaining them. I suppose we came through New York -- we usually did. I do remember asking Dennis if we should make a sign with our name on it, so the AAFES manager from Fort Campbell who was meeting us in Nashville would recognize us. My husband said not to worry; he would be able to pick us out from the crowd.

Arrival in Tennessee


When we finally landed in Nashville, we gathered our children and carry-ons and headed for the baggage claim. Before long, a dark-haired, thin young man with glasses approached us and asked, "Are you the Netz family?" It was George Ricker, an AAFES manager from Fort Campbell and one of my husband's new co-workers.

As we walked from the terminal to the car, I observed that the air was very humid and unpleasantly warm. It was 11 p.m, but heat was radiating from the pavement. It certainly didn't feel like Berlin, where we had been wearing little jackets in the evenings. I had packed sweaters for Keely and Isaac,  but clearly we wouldn't be needing them. George told us that Tennessee was having a record-setting heat-wave.

We stuffed our luggage into the trunk of an AAFES car, and the kids and I got in the back seat. Dennis rode in front, and George drove. We got on the interstate and drove through the city and out into the dark night of the countryside. George and Dennis talked about Fort Campbell and the job and AAFES people for a long time, and the children dozed against me. It seemed that surely we would reach our destination soon.

Then we passed a large, green road sign that announced we were entering Kentucky. George exclaimed, "Oh, NO!" And then he groaned, "I can't believe I did that!"

"Did what?" we asked.



View Larger Map


"I forgot to turn off I-65 onto I-24, and now we're way up north," he said sheepishly. "We have to turn around and go back. There's nothing else to do. I'm sorry! I was too busy talking!"   So we turned around and drove back to the intersection George had missed on the north side of Nashville, and then we headed west on I-24 from Nashville to Clarksville (TN).

Our detour more than doubled the amount of time it should have taken to get to Clarksville, but at last, we checked into our motel suite and fell into our beds. It had been a very long day of travel.

Unbelievable heat


About noon the next day -- July 4, 1992 -- we walked out of our dark, air-conditioned rooms into the staggering heat and brilliance of a parking lot on a 102-degree day. The blinding sunshine, intense heat, and suffocating humidity made me feel weak.

My husband started work immediately, so he could save his "PCS" time-off for moving into our house later. With no consideration of his living situation, his boss assigned him to the midnight shift. Every day about 10:00 a.m.,  I left the motel with Keely and Isaac so Dennis could try to sleep. Mid-afternoon, we slipped back into the other room of the suite, and I tried to get the kids to take a nap or watch cartoons quietly.

At last, a home


We spent about a month in the Clarksville motel and another month in a Hopkinsville motel while we located, purchased, and waited for possession of our new home. Keely started school while we were still living in the Hopkinsville motel. I talked to the principal and explained that we weren't yet living in the district, but we soon would be.

One final bit of lunacy in our lives was the woman who was living in the house we bought. She didn't want to move out, and she was angry that we had bought the house. She found out what motel we were in, and she started calling frequently on the telephone to scream at us. The motel couldn't or wouldn't screen the calls. We wondered if she would even move out of the house, but she finally did.

It was a happy day when we moved to our new home on the Tuesday after Labor Day. A big truck brought our furniture a few days later. Gradually, we developed some routines again and began to feel comfortable in Kentucky. But every year at Fourth of July, I remember the long (very long!), hot (very hot!), and crazy (very crazy!) summer of 1992.

Airplane image from Clipart Inc.
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CONTENTMENT: Keep your heart free from hate, your mind from worry, live simply, expect little, give much, sing often, pray always, forget self, think of others and their feelings, fill your heart with love, scatter sunshine. These are the tried links in the golden chain of contentment.
(Author unknown)

IT IS STILL BEST to be honest and truthful; to make the most of what we have; to be happy with simple pleasure; and to be cheerful and have courage when things go wrong.
(Laura Ingalls Wilder, 1867-1957)

Thanks for reading.