Monthly Archives: May 2010

Of Memory and Hope

They come with dandelions, since dandelions are plentiful in the last week of May and may be picked with impunity. They arrive around 9:30 in the morning, and as they walk underneath the wrought-iron gate that is three and four times their height, they abruptly stop hopping or skipping or trying to step on the heels of the child in front of them.

Suddenly, they are attempting to behave like grown-ups. They disperse into small groups, but they walk slowly among the tombstones and markers, pausing when they see a name that they know, squatting when they discover a relative. The boys stand with their hands clasped before them, replicating the way they’ve seen their fathers and grandfathers stand, while the girls sometimes hold hands.

Every year on the first school day after Memorial Day, the children of the Lincoln, Vermont, elementary school walk about a mile from the red cedar building that houses the school to the village cemetery.

The result is a rambling parade through the village…They walk across the narrow bridge spanning the New Haven River and then past the line of Gothic Revival homes built a century and a half ago. They pass the gray clapboard general store and the brick monolith that serves as the town hall. Then they wander around the hill upon which sits a church built in 1863, and down the short street that once housed the village’s modest creamery…And, all along the way, they stop, bend down, and pluck the dandelions they will use to decorate the graves, many of which will have small American flags…MORE

~ “Of Memory and Hope,” by Chris Bohjalian

Image: Library of Congress


Laurel and Hardy Dance To The Gap Band

Lefty O’Doul

The Man in the Green Suit.

Sox at Phillies this weekend.

Travis Louie: “Rooty”

Sometime in the late 1850s, after an unusually long, hard rain, a strange figure pulled himself out of the ground and began terrorizing a small mining town in Northern California. It wasn’t so much that he actually physically hurt anyone, . . .it was his unusual appearance combined with his high-pitched cackling and near constant mumbling, which caused such a strong vibration, it rattled window panes and interrupted many a conversation. He was nick-named “Rooty” because of the long root-like tendrils that protruded from the top of his misshapen head and the strong scent of ginseng that came from his body.

More of his ilk here.

Called to mind by Wenlock and Mandeville.

St Tammany weathervane

Artist unidentified
Possibly Massachusetts or New York
c. 1890
Paint on molded copper
American Folk Art Museum:

Until the early 1960s, this impressive weathervane dominated the small business district of the rural Delaware County hamlet of East Branch, New York. It stood at the very top of a turret on the roof of a large building, where it probably had been mounted about 1890. The building housed the local post office, a general store, and a lodge, or “tribe,” of the Improved Order of Red Men, a fraternal organization that based its ceremonial regalia and rituals on Indian lore and legend. The weathervane served as the symbol of the lodge.

The weathervane depicts Tammany, a semilegendary and widely respected chief of the Delaware Indians who is said to have played a significant role in the 1682 treaty between the Indians and William Penn. The legends concerning Tammany were important in the rituals of the Improved Order of Red Men. In an emblematic diploma published for the Order about 1912, Tammany is given the central place of honor, with Washington at his right.

The Tammany vane is stylistically related to one depicting Massasoit (c. 1580–1661), the chief of the Wampanoag Indians who negotiated a treaty with the Pilgrims in 1621. Several manufacturers in the late nineteenth century, including the Boston firms Harris & Company and W.A. Snow & Company (act. c. 1885–c. 1940), produced Massasoit vanes.

This striking figure may be the largest American weathervane ever produced. The presence of about twenty bullet holes confirms the stories that local marksmen used it for target practice in its last days in East Branch.

* * *

The Woodville Plantation museum in Western Pennsylvania recalls St Tammany’s Day with an article on Page Six of its newsletter on the “Forgotten Holiday.”

Forgotten holiday is right — here St Tammany is the patron of this blog and the Jury Box is more than two weeks late in remembering the May 1 feast day. Mea culpa. But better late than never.

And it is never too late to hoist a refreshing Tammany cocktail.

Walrus tusks for sale here.

All-American Monsters

Smithsonian Magazine on mammoths and mastodons:

A mammoth discovery in 1705 sparked a fossil craze and gave the young United States a symbol of national might.

By the 1780s, Jefferson convinced himself that the mammoth still lived. When, as president, he sent Lewis and Clark to explore the American West–it was partly to see if they could turn up a living mammoth.

Black Hawk and his son Whirling Thunder

By John Wesley Jarvis (ca. 1780-1839)
Oil on canvas
Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, Okla.