Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Michigan 101 Part II: Old Barns and Endings

On an autumn visit Up North many years ago my son, my dad and I went wandering the back roads. My son took photographs of old barns my dad had discovered.



One wonders who built these structures and what their dreams and hopes were. And what happened to cause the farms to be abandoned. Change is hard, but a part of life. Each day we rise with our goals and hopes, and at day's end we don't always find ourselves where we expected to be. And yet there is a beauty to it all, a beauty in the death and  decay of once green vibrant leaves and in the ending of  each day.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Michigan 101

Michigan  consists of people who live near work and own a cabin Up North where they go to enjoy life away from work. There is a LOT of Up North in Michigan, which roughly starts halfway up the Lower Peninsula and continues into the Upper Peninsula.

Up North consists of open country, farm land, forests, inland lakes, rivers, and the Great Lakes. People who live below this demarcation are called Trolls, and the Trolls who visit Up North tourist towns are called Fudgies. Because a lot of fudge is made and sold in these tourist towns. We use our hands to show where we live. I currently live Up North in Pentwater, which is south of Ludington and north of Muskegon on the sunset side of the lower hand.

Michigan mapped to two hands. Awesome.

Pentwater is a tourist town overrun with Fudgies for two months of the year. It has a natural marina, sand beaches, and lovely views. Charles Mears State Park campground is here, and a large marina. After Labor Day the Fudgies disappear. By Thanksgiving even the permanent folk disappear: they are called Snowbirds, as they travel to warmer climes for the winter. Pentwater folk only need to travel inland to escape the brutal Lake Effect snows and wind! Some of our Snowbirds go to Metro Detroit and Chicago, some to Arizona and Texas.

Mears was one of the 19th century lumber barons who cut down the virgin forests to rebuild Chicago afte its great fire. We used to live in Muskegon, with it's own State Park and its lumber baron, Hackley. Michigan history in the late 19th c was shaped by the men who decimated the forests.

The one track of virgin fores left in Michigant is Hartwick Pines, and has some wondrously huge trees there, the kind the Native Americans would have experienced as a normal forest once upon a time. Some are 350 years old!


Michigan has the longest freshwater shoreline in the country, and the second longest coastline. We have 36 million acres of forest remaining. We are the country's largest producer of asparagus, right here in Oceana County. Eagles, coyotes, black bear, turkeys, and wolves have rebounded in numbers all over the state. Even in Metro area, deer are causing traffic accidents. There is a Peregrine Falcon in the park down the street near our Metro Detroit home.

Then there is the southern tier of the state, with Metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Flint, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. Grand Rapids was famous for its furniture industry, Flint for cars, Battle Creek for cereal and Kellogg's sanitarium. And Kalamazoo for its use in the song I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo. And it is the home of Gibson guitars. Detroit is now famous for being bankrupt and considering selling art from the Detroit Institute of Arts one of the premier art museums in the country. They have one of my favorite works, Coxtopaxi by Frank Church:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Trash Picking

I come from a long line of  trash pickers. We see potential usefulness in stuff others toss out.

When I was a little girl walking to Philip Sheridan Elementary School I remember seeing the trash out along Rosemont Avenue and every now and I saw something in the trash that did not belong there. I would fret and worry and wish I could save it.

My brother even decorates with trash. Like stuff he finds in the canal in back of his house. He pulls up some pretty good stuff!

My Grandmother Gohenour worked in the Goodwill store in Tonawanda, NY which gave her first pick. I wore old flannel nightgowns from the Goodwill when I was a girl because there was no heat in the upstairs bedrooms of the 1830s farm house.

A family friend worked for the school system and before he hauled the trash to the dump he'd stop by the house. I remember rummaging through the books and claiming what I wanted. One book I found was a 1929 edition of "The Cradle of the Deep" by Joan Lowell, the story of a girl growing up on her dad's "four-masted, windjammer rigged schooner engaged in the copra and sandalwood trade between the islands of the South Seas and  Australia." Oh the adventures she had! I also found "The Adventures of Benjamin Pink" illustrated by Garth Williams. I read that to my brother many times. It was about a rabbit lost at sea who becomes king of a monkey island.

Here is my greatest trash picking story.

Back in the 1970s a family friend found a picture in the Tonawanda, NY dump and gave it to my brother who was living with our folks in Clawson, MI. Dad put it in his basement Man's Cave, which had dark wood paneling, a bar, a pool table, and a dart board. The picture was still hanging there in a dark corner when Dad passed and I inherited the house. I brought it upstairs into the light and realized it was really cool! It was real ART and not a print. The matting was yellowed and stained. I asked my brother if he wanted it, and when he said no I took it to a frame shop.

The framer removed the back paper and removed the art from the frame. It was a pastel. Underneath the mat was handwriting. The artist's name was Alfred W. Holdstock and the painting was titled Lake des Allumettes. The detail is amazing.

When I got home I went online to research Holdstock.  Between 1850 and 1870 he painted First People around Montreal, the Ottawa River, and the Thousand Islands.

Holdstock was born in Bath, England in 1820 and educated at Oxford University.  Around 1850 he emigrate to Montreal and taught drawing at the Government National School. He died in 1901 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

The Isle Aux Allumettes in the Ottawa River was inhabited in ancient times. The Iroquois Indians exterminated the Algonquin tribe around 1650. The Algonquin chief Tessout was ambushed by the Iroquois near the Allumette Rapids. The island was uninhabited for 170 years. On 1836 there were still only a few families on the island. Holdstock wanted to capture a dying way of life.

The origin of the name Allumettes, meaning matches, is explained here:

We had the pastel framed. And its now our favorite piece of  'trash'!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Love Songs

I found this book at the Royal Oak, MI flea market several years ago. There is a book vendor there who has some great stuff. Last month I found some first edition signed quilt books! And the Peggy Cloth book I wrote about last week.

This book has great color illustrations between the poetry and song snippets presented. The line art inside was also remarkable.

"No there's nothing half so sweet in life
As love's young dream."

"No, the heart that has truly loved, never forgets
But as truly loves on to the close,
As the sunflower turns on her god, when he sets,
The same look which she turn'd when he rose"
from Believe me, if All Those Endearing Young Charms

"Just a song at twilight when the lights are low,
and the flickering shadows softly come and go"

I am certain this painting was also used on an Etude Magazine cover, but I can't locate it right now.

"I'll not leave thee, thou lone one,
To pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping,
Go sleep with them:
Thus kindly I scatter,
Thy leaves o'er the bed,
Where they mates of the garden
Lie scentless and dead."
from "'Tis the Last Rose of Summer"

"Fare thee well, thou first and fairest! 
Fare thee well, thou best and dearest!
Thine be ilka joy and treasure,
Peace, Enjoyment, Love and Pleasure!
Ae fond kiss and then we sever!
Ae farwell, alas for ever!
Deep in heart-wrung tears i'll pledge thee,
Warring sighs and groans I'll wage thee.""
from Ae Fond Kiss

"Could ye come back to me, Douglas, Douglas
In the old likeness that I knew,
I would be so faithful, so loving, Douglas,
Douglas, Douglas, tender and true."

"Where are you going, my pretty maid?"
"I'm gong a milking, sir," she said."

"What is your fortune, my pretty maid?"
"My face is my fortune, sire, she said."

"I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,
That knights upon bended knee;
And with vows no maiden's heart could withstand
They pledged their faith to me."
from I Dreamt That I Dwelt in Marble Halls

"No--that hallowed form is ne'er forgot which first love traced"
from Love's Young Dream

 "Oh, ne'er shall I forget the night,
the stars were bright above me,
And gently lent their silv'ry light,
When first she vowed she loved me."
from The Girl I Left Behind Me

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wizard of Oz Embroidery

My original embroidered blocks for The Wizard of Oz are done. I am considering how to set them together.

I love the Scarecrow. Next to him is Dorothy and Toto.

I have a happy Lion. The Tin Man is a bit scary looking I think.

My Glenda is an 'Earth Mother' figure, nurturing and life giving so the Wicked Witch had to be thin and unfeminine. Sorry, fans of "Wicked!"

Sunday, October 20, 2013

'Modish' Fifth Avenue Styles for Spring and Summer 1927

This magazine by Hamilton Garment Co. of Fifth Avenue in New York City was another inexpensive find at a flea market many years ago. The  original mailing envelope for placing an order is still inside.

The inside front cover proclaims they were "on FIFTH AVENUE and style specialists for over ten years!" They guaranteed the lowest prices in America with 24 hour service. "The Hamilton Fashion Magazines Bring to Your Door--No Matter Where You Live--The Very Newest and Smartest Creations from New York and Paris!" A later page claims they offered "copies of the most expensive imported models."

I loved seeing "for the Modish miss and Matron" page, saying that the fashions were perfect for the well developed figure, concealing well developed hips with a slim silhouette. To my mind, the dropped waist and lack of bust dart were definitely not well tuned to a full figured woman! The models below are not stout, but they look as wide as all Kansas.

The corsets were covered with rubber and had double boned diaphragm fronts. "Surgical" elastic "holds the flesh firm and massages it away."

I adore the 'Baby Betty" play clothes and dress frocks. The sweet short dresses with little pantaloons underneath, the round high collars, and bobbed hair of the models are adorable. And of course those white socks and Mary Jane patent shoes!

Little boys could wear a nine piece Cowboy outfit, a four piece flannel baseball suit, khaki jean Oliver Twist suit with knee length pants and "college sport" belt.  Also available was a cut sailor suits of several styles.

I noted the "Peggy Cloth" plaid wash suit on the left fashion above. I just shared a Peggy Cloth book from 1947.  Peggy Cloth was not a designer or manufacturer of the Peggy Cloth books, it was a fabric type. A Goggle search showed up several ad from the 1920s for Peggy Cloth, sold for sturdy children's rompers and clothes, at 17 cents to a dollar a yard.

"Innovative" spring coats sported ombre plaids, gauntlet cuffs, and wide labels with fur lining. Colors included Mother Goose tan, Queen Blue, Palmetto Green, and other 'spring' hues. I love the idea of an ombre plaid.

There is wonderful embroidery and pleating details in the gowns, slips, and bloomers.

All that cropped hair made hats important accessories.

Heels were very practical. In size and height the heels looked like what I wore to school in the late 1960s.

They had special shoes for the 'stout ankled' women!

I love the Bonnie Girl outfit on the left in the above page. 

My grandmother Emma Becker Gochenour sported these slim hipped fashions in old photographs. She had wild red hair, like all her siblings, which was bobbed short.

Emma Becker and Al Gochenour married in 1926, a year before this catalog was published. Emma was a factory worker and Al a salesman.