Monday, April 30, 2012
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Any historical study of Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee is likely to turn up references to rafting goods and in particular logs down the Clinch and Tennessee Rivers to Chattanooga. This practice prevailed from mid-nineteenth century even into the first two decades of the twentieth. I have been attempting to write what is to be either a short story, a novella, or a short-short story depending upon the number of words I can string together in a cogent manner to tell a story I want to tell.
In the introductory chapters (meaning the first three or four pages of work) I was having a character sign on to work as a hand on a rafting expedition down the river. This is all within keeping of the time and setting of the story. But then I found myself relating a circumstance that centered around a drought in the area, and I brought myself up short, so to speak. "Whoa," I said. Would the Clinch support commercial traffic in a time of drought?
So I shut down the writing and go to the research. I have two very large loose-leaf notebooks related to my family history and genealogy. I recalled that therein someplace I had an article about the floating of logs down the Clinch as it seems that some of the Morrells and Palmers were engaged in such activities. From that I went to the internet to garner more information if available. All this to insure that a fictional tale made sense in a non-fictional world.
Now I am beginning to appreciate a bit better the efforts my sister engaged in to write her recently-published novel, Child of Desire*. (btw, Sis, I am not attempting to replicate your effort. Couldn't do it even if I wanted to.)
At any rate, the story will hold together so long as I make sure the protagonist made his trip in the winter, not in spring or summer, for the logging operations took place during the dry summer-fall season, logs being stacked along the riverbanks in preparation for the swelling of the stream in the winter. A completed raft would be up to 225 feet in length. The crew would consist of a steersman and six to a dozen hands. Following delivery of the goods, the crew would return home via rail or on foot.
*Powers, Verla Lacy. Child of Desire, Tate Publishing Company, 2011.
Friday, April 27, 2012
The last several months of her life, Helen was bedfast. However at no point was her mental capacity diminished. I would sometimes sit at her bedside in the evening and listen as she regaled me with her memories of days gone by. Sometimes I would listen carefully, then before retiring for the night I would go to my desk and record her stories. I tried to keep them in her voice and as closely to her words as possible. As I was culling some of my myriad file folders, I came across these records. Let me share a few of these tales.
Great-grandfather Richard Goodwin was highly educated and quite prominent, but my grandmother's mother died when Grandma was a girl of ten. Richard Goodwin remarried and apparently, as I understand it, remanded Charlotte to the custody of a guardian, at least some of the time during her growing-up years. Charlotte, though, was very strong-willed and independent, and upon nearing adulthood and wanting means of her own, learned telegraphy and took a job as a telegraph operator. Her father, on discovering this, was so furious he cut off all Charlotte's hair, as he deemed her actions disgraceful and beneath her status in life!
The greatest mistake my mother ever made was staying with her mother (Charlotte) all her life. My grandmother was very severe and somewhat of a tyrant. She was not what I would call a loving person, and both my sister Elsie and I were recipients of punishments at her hand that were too severe by half.
(More, perhaps, another time.)
Helen Knapp Prouton her 90th birthday
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Lysander’s Spartan Navies and Armies defeat the Athenians thus ending the Peloponnesian War, 404 B.C. following over a quarter-century of hostilities. Whether the Spartans or the Athenians should rule became totally moot a half-century later when Philip of Macedon conquered the whole of Greece.
Francis Crick and James D. Watson publish Molecular structure of nucleic acid, describing the now-famous double-helix structure of DNA, 1953.
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The cartoon above may be a reminder of a time when your student, or perhaps you yourself, had such an experience in your classroom. That may have represented a difficult childhood moment. But I look at Peppermint Patty's dilemma today and see it in a whole new light, for this experience is becoming more and more commonplace in my daily living. I find frequently I know exactly what I am thinking and I know that I know the word I want as well as I know my name, and yet it will not fall off the tip of my tongue. Very frustrating. There is a scientific name for this phenomenon, but I can't think of it at the moment.
There is another thing that happens when one gets old. He muddles in nostalgia and wonders what might have been. Or even what was.
A little Ducky Duddle went wading in a puddle,
Now how's that for nostalgia?
Monday, April 23, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
1Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Decades before America was introduced to the "Soup Nazi," there was Mrs. Laine. The old 1897 brick building on the southwest corner of Main and Water was home to Laine's Cafeteria. It was a cafeteria only one day a week-- Sunday from 10:30 to 2:30. The restaurant was also open on Friday evening and Saturday evening, but service then was not cafeteria-style.
Mrs. Laine during the week is the drama and literature and Latin teacher at the local high school. We have no idea how old she is, for most people under fifty remember her as their teacher; and yes, plastic surgery was practiced in that day and time. Also, we know that she has a son who is forty-six years of age, about whom more later. Let's meet her in her establishment on this beautiful Friday evening.
There are no gaudy lights, no signs visible from the street. There is a small bronze plaque, about six inches by twelve, affixed to the brickwork beside the front door on which is inscribed
As we pass through the vestibule, noting that the lights are becoming dimmer as we walk along the hallway, we soon come to the podium at which sits Mrs. Laine on a high stool. On the podium itself is a leather-bound menu, and the one is more than enough, for the menu is exactly whatsoever has been created in the kitchen on this day. That is what you will have, no more, no less, if indeed you have anything. Mrs. Laine inherited the recipe collection from her great grandmother who was an immigrant from Eastern Europe. The food is worth the trip, as numerous souls from as far away as four neighboring states would testify.
Mrs. Laine raises her perfectly-coiffed head. With neither smile nor frown, she peers imperiously toward you through her lorgnette. "Yes?" You tell her how many in your party, and she looks down at her desktop as you note the triple strand of high-quality pearls that encircle her neck. This is where the "rubber meets the road." Even though a quick glance around the dining area reveals several empty tables, and you know as well that Laine's does not take reservations, you may or may not be admitted for dinner! Some have driven eighty or a hundred miles only to be rejected at the door. No one knows what system or set of standards the hostess uses to make her determination; but her decision is final. A few unlucky and unwise souls have attempted the ploy of sliding a folded twenty-dollar bill across the desktop. It is unfolded, daintily held now between thumb and forefinger, and thrust back toward the offending soul. Here the proprietor speaks, "You may be admitted at a later date; but if you make this mistake again, you will be banned forever." Here she taps with her lorgnette on an eight x twelve poster on the wall to her left. You look at it. It is headed "Persona non grata." Below, though in your haste to retreat you do not read all the names, you note a few that are immediately outstanding.
- Fidel Castro
- Lyndon B. Johnson
- Matt Welsh
- John Frederick
- Anna Lighthouse
and so on. We would probably all ban Castro. Mrs. Laine has voided Mr. Johnson's privileges because, though she was a huge JFK fan, her suspicions regarding LBJ's ascension to the presidency are quite strong. Matt Welsh is the governor of the state, an all-round nice guy, but he had the misfortune of running against and defeating Mrs. Laine's brother in a heated election for state representative many years ago. Roger Branigin succeeded Welsh as governor in 1965, and shortly thereafter, his name was added to the list. I don't know why. John Frederick is the local "mayor," the title being an honorific since there is no such official position. The community can only speculate as to Mrs. Laine's dislike of him, but it is well-known. Anna Lighthouse, and this is really ancient history, was a rival for Mr. Laine's attentions when the three of them were students at Indiana University. Though Mrs. Laine prevailed in the contest for the man's heart, she has never forgiven Anna. Just for existing, we suspect.
Oh, dear. And having ourselves passed muster, we have yet to be seated. The
The tureen is set on the table, the waiter takes the ladle and...
Thus begins a dining experience to which I am unable to do justice, so you will complete the story by simply imagining the most delightfully indescribable dining experience you have ever had.
© 2010 David W. Lacy
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
But. Technology being what it is, someone has finally perfected an awesome hurricane-in-a-can which will dry the hands in a trice, thus eliminating the need, in the mind of management, to provide towels. So how to open the door? Clearly, someone has posed this question to the powers that be, for now I find (just yesterday for the first time, in fact) that someone has created a hook thingy to fasten on the inside of the door, along with a diagram showing how to use it. In a few words, insert arm, fingers up, and pull door open with the wrist, thus avoiding the necessity of touching a handle with the freshly washed pinkies.
Now if you have not tried this, trust me: it is trickier than the picture shows. Open a door with the forearm extended up its inside with the elbow plastered against it. And get your body out of the way. Wait! How do I move? Where?
Drat. I am going to have to start carrying extra paper towels in my pocket for just such a situation.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Weary travelers at Boomland.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
Friday, April 13, 2012
...somewhere in the northern part of East Texas, we found Animal Farm. The RV park, I mean; and that is not its real name. The proprietor was eighty-seven year old Emily who ran the place while her husband George mostly watched. Emily escorted me to the house to check us in, but first she had to corral the lamb and get it into the house. Mostly, it thinks it is a dog, so a little coaxing got the job done. We would later hear the story of the triplet lambs born on a freezing cold night, leaving the mother dead, and how Emily nursed this and another one to this happy stage of their lives.
There were cats in abundance, and to the question regarding their number, the response was "something over twenty." We like them here, for they tend to keep the copperhead population under control. Yeah, I am thinking. That is probably a symbiotic relationship, for it is likely that the serpents tend to keep the kitty population somewhat under control as well.
One could look out the window and see no fewer than a half dozen black cats at any one time, not to mention the cats of other stripes and colors. The grey was probably the prettiest, the black-and-white the largest, and most interesting because while many of the cats were of the short-tailed variety, this one had a short corkscrew tail. Made one wonder which car door or screen door got that one.
As you see from the picture, sitting around on the patio visiting was a feature of the evening and brought back memories of the good old days when neighbors gathered on a front porch to pass and evening. You may also note that BBBH was greatly enthralled with the lamb.
The little dog, a dachshuahua (I made that up. Well, actually the male chihuahua who jumped the dachshund made it up.) represented a whole other story with which Emily regaled us.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
But in these nearer-downtown neighborhoods, we find real individuality, real Americana. Real, well, real.
Perhaps its a Mom and Pop operation; she works on the Westside, he on the East.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Philosophy, wisdom, and guides to living are often found in the comics. Sometimes true wisdom is expressed much more succinctly and in a more entertaining manner than one finds in dry tomes.
Friday, April 6, 2012
I normally don't do yard art, but occasionally something is just too too to pass by. There used to be a blog "Along Life's Highway" featuring the yard art game. I don't know the blogger or what happened, but there has been no new post for four months.
Thursday, April 5, 2012
HEAVE! The ball hit the fence, bounced to the bleachers, bounced to the fire plug, and rolled back across the street to point C.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Since the turtle contributes very little to the "beauty" of this post, I decided to include this picture of tiny flowers. These surround the pond and one can scarce take a step without treading on them. But they spring back and continue to bloom in their places!
Monday, April 2, 2012
Wonderful Palm Sunday here in Paradise. Morning service in church was a musical presentation of "The Borrowed Tomb" by a 42-voice choir with re-enactment of scenes in the last years of Jesus's life, culminating in the crucifixion and the Resurrection!
Sunday brunch was seafood at the Big Fisherman. Cannot top Texas for seafood!
After the meal, we parked the RV along the seawall at Rockport Harbor, door next to the sea, opposite window toward the marina. The waves rolling in and breaking against the wall, the wind soughing through the riggings of the sailboats, and I was soon in Dreamland. When I awakened, I strolled along the docks, then BBBH and I walked the length of the pier, and visited a time with the fisherpeople at the end.
Then it was back to the campground, which though inland only four or five blocks from the sea, had to be fifteen degrees warmer. So we sat inside in the A/C until the sun went down!
Sunday, April 1, 2012
Image: Henry Martin