Saturday, January 31, 2015

Plain of Feature and Certainly Overweight

When I saw this picture, my first thought was that it looked a good bit like my sweet paternal grandmother -- and probably a  bit like me.  Then I saw that it was Colleen McCullough -- author of THE THORN BIRDS (which has sold a gazillion copies) and that she had died.  I don't remember if I ever read the novel  -- I did see a bit of the mini-series but all I can remember of it is that I really disliked Richard Chamberlain. 

But that's not what I'm here to talk about. It's the obituary one Australian newspaper published. In the headline they note that she was a novelist and a neurophysiologist -- and then open by calling her a charmer -- despite being 'plain of feature and certainly overweight.' 

Predictably, there was a bit of backlash from many who felt that this was inappropriate and that a male novelist of a similar standing wouldn't have had similar treatment. Maybe so, maybe not.

I do know I admire McCullough for being comfortable in her own skin. 

We all have different approaches to aging and appearance. And it's more difficult for those in the public eye. At the other end of the spectrum there was Barbara Cartland, the best selling author in the world with sales of over a billion.  She cultivated her image as Queen of Romance and was known for her hats, her clothing, and her jewels. I haven't read her either. 

But the more I look at McCullough's face, the better I like it.


Friday, January 30, 2015

Once There Was a Little Country Store

This one sits in the front yard of a now abandoned house in sight of our mailbox.  Burder still lived in the house when we first moved here but the building had been turned into a storage place long since.

 At least I think I remember being told it was a store . . . I'm writing this late at night and have no one to ask if I'm making this up.

At one time little stores like this dotted the roads -- before cars were common, almost everyone had a store within walking distance.

Of course, with progress and cars, the little stores have died out, just as the larger family run groceries, drugstores, etc, are falling before the cheaper prices and larger inventory of big box stores.

And even the big box stores are feeling the cold wind of change generated  by the internet . . .

I'm going to have to find someone who might remember when Burder's store was open and can tell me what might have been for sale there.

Always assuming that it was a store . . . 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

As She Left It

As She Left It is my most recent read -- and I think the first Catriona McPherson novel I've read. An Anthoiny award winner last year, it's set in modern day northern England -- about which I know next to nothing -- and I found it a fascinating and compulsive read -- a likable, stubborn, driven protagonist, a wealth of colorful and interesting characters, and many, many questions that beg to be answered.  

So much of my reading of novels set in England deals with the first part of the twentieth century and the 'gentry.' This is working/middle class, ethnically diverse, modern day England.  Is this the way it really is?  Maybe Jennyfreckles or Martin will have read this and can enlighten me.  

No matter -- I really enjoyed spending time in this world. 

Here's what the author's website says:

When she was twelve, Opal Jones ran away from home.. Now, thirteen years later, she's back for the first time. Her mother has died but everyone else is still there: nosy Mrs. Pickness, the Joshi family taxi firm, Fishbo he music teacher, and even old Margaret, Opal's favourite neighbor of all. On the surface everything is exactly as she left it. Underneath, nothing is the same.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Finding William Patton Jones

The following is an email received from a volunteer in the Archives of Maryville College:

Thank you for contacting Maryville College about the ledger that you found at a flea market.   I think that it is very possible that it belonged to a Maryville College student.  Here are a few facts:

Maryville College is known by MC to most current and former students.

William Patton Jones was enrolled at Maryville College in 1908-1909 as third year student in the Preparatory Department (high school), in 1909-1910 as a fourth year student in the Preparatory Department, and in 1910-1911 as a freshmen in the College Department.   In the first year his home address was Asheville, NC, R.D. 2.  For the second and third years his address was Swannanoa, NC.

Books were rented by students from the Loan Library on Campus.

On the page which had a list of names I find the following students:  James Alexander Burnette, John William Campbell and Allen Long Clark.

Dr. Barnes was a Professor of Psychology and Political Science at MC during this time.

Students who lived on Campus ate at the Boarding Club.  Students did all of the work from cooking to washing dishes. 

Another work-study job was ringing the College bell which called students to rise, to meals, to chapel, to class, to lights out.

The fees are in line with what I found in Catalogs from these years.  Young men had the option of living on or off Campus.

If you have other questions or need specific information, please contact me.  This was very interesting.

These pictures are from the annual for which W. P. Jones recorded paying $2. You can follow the link to see the whole thing on line. (It's really cool!)

My original lead to Maryville College came from Esta, a reader of this blog. And over on Facebook, Susan found a William Patton Jones from Swannanoa enrolled at MC in 1910. She also located him in a census.

So WPJ would probably one of the gang pictured below -- Class of '13.

Did he graduate? I don't know but I'll ask the nice person in the Archives. 

I found a bit more  in a Moffitt family genealogy.  WPJ was born in 1887 in Buncombe County, NC, son of Thomas Jefferson Jones (great name) and Sarah Elizabeth Ellen Moffit. He married Leona May Lowns from Illinois -- they had seven children but only one is named --George Carl Jones (1928 -1968.)

William Patton Jones died in Mt. Vernon, Illinois, in 1974, having outlived his son.

So how did his ledger end up in Marshall, NC? 



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Random Tweets

Does anyone else get a weird feeling when that little sign pops up on Facebook and says that So-and-so  is following you?

Have you ever been talking to someone and she's looking at you with a fixed expression but doesn't really seem to be hearing you and you have a real feeling she's doing her Kegel exercises . . .

(While finding that link for Kegel exercises, I thought I saw a link to Kegel exercise classes -- now there's an interesting thought . . but it was just that my glasses needed cleaning.)

Received notice of our high school 55th reunion. Several of those involved are people I've blocked or un-friended on Facebook because of their ultra Conservative (and in my opinion downright ugly) posts. 

We've never yet been to a reunion -- this doesn't seem a good time to begin.

Returned form, saying unable to attend. 

In space for INFORMATION TO SHARE wrote Not dead yet.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Goin' to California (in my Mind)

Yesterday was cold and wet . . . so I revisited scenes from 2012 and a trip to Santa Cruz.

Friday, January 23, 2015

W Not M . . . and On Inter-conectedness . . .

 Back to that Ledger. A closer look tells me it's W. Jones -- not M. I remain fascinated with this guy with his lost baseball (10 cents,) his 'segars' and plugs of tobacco, and his soda fountain visits (50, 25, 50, and 50 cents again) -- was he treating a lady -- or just extra thirsty? Remember, 50 cents equalled five hours work.

A comment from Esta suggested Maryville College - MC) in Tennessee as the school W. Jones was attending. It was in existence in 1910 and sounds like a very interesting place -- integrated from the beginning until forced to segregate by state law. I have emailed the library there to ask if they have a copy of the school's 1910 annual -- and if a W. Jones is in it. (He recorded spending a princely $2 -- that's 20 hours worth of work -- for an annual that year.)

Ah, the inter-connectedness of things -- Maryville (near Knoxville) is the setting of part of my work in progress -- the Quaker sweetheart of one of my main character lives there and tends a stop on the Underground Railroad.  And in rousting through yet another drawer as part of the tidying up frenzy that uncovered the ledger, I came across the address of a student at one of my Rugby workshops who lives in . . .you guessed it, Maryville.

Excerpt from WIP -- working title  THIS WAS THE WAY OF IT. Sim is visiting his sweetheart Cora at her family's farm in Maryville . . .

As Cora lit a tallow dip that she had taken from her basket, I begun to see some better. There was pallets of straw and old quilts along one wall and a rough low table with a bench on either side took up the middle of the room. A big man, the blackest of any man I had ever seen, was setting on the pallets with one leg stretched out so's his bandaged foot could rest on a folded blanket. Another man, some younger and not so black, was at the table along with an old woman wrapped up in a shawl. Across from them was what I took to be a white woman holding a white baby and two young uns beside her, one kindly coffee-and-milk colored -- what folks call a 'mule,' and the other real dark. I couldn't make no sense of what the white woman and her baby was doing there with a bunch of runaway slaves. 
                They had all of them perked up at the sight of Cora and the basket but when they saw me, they looked scared. The big man started to stand up but Cora stopped him.
                  “Stay down, George,” she says. “Sim is a friend. Let me share out the food and then I’ll tend to thy foot.”
                      “Bless you, Miss Cora,” the woman says, and the men and the young uns says, “Bless you. Bless you.”
                 Cora shared out the food in bowls and you never saw people so happy to eat beans and bacon and cornbread. She had a jug of new milk too which they passed around and the young uns licked their lips over its sweetness.
              Then she called me to hold the tallow dip close while she undid the big man’s bandages.
             When I saw the nature of his wound, it took all I had to keep my supper from coming back up. Ever one of his toes had been cut off.