Sunday, February 28, 2010

Archiving Memories

Bunches of boxes full of piles of pictures...

The Charlotte County History Collections needed (and still does) some volunteers to help in the cataloging of thousands of objects, mainly photos, but also slides, postcards, newspaper articles and other items, so that they may be digitally archived and preserved and put on the web to be made available to all.

The Colonel volunteered to help the Charlotte County Historical Center do this and I tagged along and pitched in. We both logged six hours of cataloging in two days of service.

We had been cataloging the pictures of U.S. Cleveland who was a local historian and author. During the two days that The Colonel and I volunteered, we barely scratched the surface of the two boxes of photos we were given to catalog.

The cataloging process went as follows:

1. Select an item from the box (I worked with photos my two days)
2. Measure the item
3. Write down a description of item


5 x 7 Black and White Photo - Studio shot of young boy and girl sitting on bench.

It was fun cataloging the old photos. It was interesting to see the old pictures of U.S. Cleveland and his family; to get a glimpse of slices of their lives, forever frozen in a still picture; to see what they were doing and what they felt needed to be captured on film.

As I looked at the pictures, some reminded me of the pictures on the cards you can buy, you know, the ones that use old photos and then add funny sayings, making the cards hilarious (I am certain there are some funny ones in my family photo holdings as well).

I love looking through old photos and happy that I could help The Charlotte County History Collections in their mission to get some of U.S. Cleveland's massive holdings cataloged and made available on the web all at the same time.

I am sure The Colonel and I will give more of our volunteer services in this effort, because as I stated above, we barely scratched the surface of the bunches of boxes full of piles of pictures that are left to catalog.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

My Charlie Bucket Moment

King's Golden Ticket courtesy of DSIL

You know that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Charlie uses the money he finds in the gutter to buy a big chocolate bar and then hears that there is still one ticket left and he slowly peels the wrapping back and spies part of a golden ticket and the surprise, disbelief and then the shear joy he experiences upon winning the gold ticket? Well, I felt just like Charlie when he spied the golden ticket as I opened an email the other day.

You see a couple of weeks ago I went on line and requested two of the 400 tickets available to see Stephen King when he comes to town on March 20th to kick off Charlotte County's Big Read program. The tickets would be awarded via a lottery with assigned seating. I had heard that 5,000 people submitted their requests for the tickets.

When I opened my email it said, "Congratulations! Your name was drawn to receive two tickets to The Big Read Kickoff Event featuring author Stephen King..."

OMG!!! I never win things! I couldn't believe it! OMG!!! (I went out and bought a lottery ticket...maybe my luck hasn't run out yet).

I have read a few of Stephen King's books and I particularly found his book, On Writing, interesting and helpful. The Colonel has not read any of King's books and as his sister has read quite a few of them and also requested tickets on line without winning any, thought letting his sister use my other ticket was a good idea and I agreed. She was ecstatic when I called her to let her know I won and that she will be coming along with me to see Stephen King in person.

I went to pickup my tickets and when I saw we were in row C, seats 101 and 102, I again felt like Charlie Bucket...I could not believe my luck...just three rows from the stage (again, hope this luck lasts until after the lotto ticket is drawn in a couple of days).

I still catch myself breaking out in a grin as I think about my winning the tickets to see Stephen King.

I've got a golden ticket(s)!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Simple Pleasure

The other day The Colonel surprised me by taking me to a place we've never been before.

The day was warmer than it has been for some time and it was nice to leisurely walk in the sunshine with The Colonel... of my life's simple pleasures.

After our lovely walk we went to one of the little places we have been before; a boat slip nestled between some old houses.

We spied a Great Blue Heron and I was able to snap this photo of him before he flew away from us; these herons are very skittish. We have never seen an alligator here (yet).

Flight Path Revisited or They're Back

I was sitting at the dinning room table today, having lunch with The Colonel and looked out the window. My yard was beginning to fill up with Robins again. The last time they were here was on January 9th as they stopped by on their way to winter in Mexico. They are now on their way to Canada and more northern states of the U.S. for mating season and to rear their young.

I have always liked Robins...As a little girl I associated them with summer.

On those summer days I would play outside all day long, barely wanting to come in for lunch or a bathroom break. I'd build grass forts in the fields surrounding our house with my sisters and the cute neighbor boy everyone had a crush on.

Welcome back Robins, you harbingers of summer. May the wind be at your backs and under your wings as you head north and into Canada, ay.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

L. B. Brown: Slave to Community Builder

This is the L.B. Brown House, built in 1892 by Lawrence Bernard Brown (1856-1941).

L.B. Brown was born into slavery in 1856 in Wacahoota, Florida, near Gainesville. After the Civil War and the end of slavery his family homesteaded a 40-acre farm. When L.B. was older he moved to Deland, Florida where he built nine rental houses. After his father died in 1885, L.B. and his mother moved to Bartow, Florida where he built the two-story house pictured above along with many rental houses (estimated to well over 50 houses). Pictured below is one of the rental houses built by Mr. Brown.

Built around 1910-1912
Mr. Brown was not only a master carpenter who built houses, he also sold Bibles, silvered mirrors, repaired furniture, built cabinets and made umbrellas. A 1912 Jacksonville newspaper described him as the leading capitalist and the largest land owner in Bartow "among the gentlemen of color".

He and his third wife, Anna Belle reared eleven children in their two-story house. One of their sons is still alive today and lives in New York. How many people still living today can claim that their father was born a slave...not many. This still surviving son was born when L.B. was 72 years old. I do not know the age difference between L.B. and Anna.

At the time of his death in 1941, L.B. Brown left a considerable amount of cash and real estate to his family.

Although he was born a slave, he refused to let that circumstance limit his possibilities in life. His headstone reads, "From slavery to community builder". The L.B. Brown story should serve as an inspiration to everyone.

Since 2000, there has been an annual L.B. Brown Heritage Festival in Bartow, Florida. The Colonel, DSIL and I attended it this year. Dr. Canter Brown (no relation to L.B. Brown) was a guest speaker at this year's festival. Dr. Brown has written many Florida history books and The Colonel has a couple of them. He took one to the festival to have Dr. Brown sign it.

Dr. Brown spoke of Florida history, especially the history of the county and city where the L.B. Brown House is located. We spoke with him before and after his speech; he was very friendly.

After we listened to Dr. Brown we had some lunch. There were many vendors to choose from. The Colonel and DSIL had fried shrimp and I had curry chicken with beans and rice. When lunch was over we listened to music and watched some dancers on the stage. The little girls were cute as they danced.

We then took a tour of the house.

The Colonel, DSIL and I enjoyed our visit to the L.B. Brown Heritage Festival. We may have to make it an annual trip.

"From slave to community builder" is amazing what the human spirit can accomplish when it is free from oppression of any kind.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

#4 says, "Happy Anniversary!"

(Think The Brady Bunch theme song)

Here's the story of a lovely lady,
with four brothers, she was the only girl.
Her pretty smile and pretty eyes were like no other's,
her shiny hair with curl.

Here's the story of a man named Stephen
who was busy with two brothers of his own.
He was young and he was handsome,
yet he was all alone.

Till the one day when the lady met this fellow,
and they knew it was much more than a hunch.
That they would somehow form a family,
so they got married, and had children; they had a bunch.

They had a bunch, they had a bunch,
54 years ago today they wed and had a bunch.

Happy Anniversary Dad and Mom!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom

I know it is Wednesday and I have posted a 'Wordless Wednesday' blog already, but I cannot let this particular Wednesday go past without words...words like...

Happy 73rd Birthday Mom!

What a beautiful baby, 1937

Mom at 4 or 5 years old

Senior picture, 1955

Mom, 1963

Mom, 2010

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Space Shuttle Endeavor-STS 130

4 AM.

I usually do not get up this early voluntarily. I remember two occasions getting up early (again not voluntarily) and it resulted in my giving birth to my daughter and then two years later my son. This early morning there was no baby involved (there would have to be another star in the East for that to happen).

The Colonel and I planned this early awakening. We set our alarm so that we could be up in time to glimpse a bit of history; the last scheduled night launch in the space shuttle program!

This is what the launch looked like from the Kennedy Space Center on Florida's east coast and this is what it looked like from the upper deck of my back porch on Florida's west coast.

Maybe not as impressive visually but still as historical. The space shuttle Endeavor was travelling away from us on a NE route and we had 140 miles of the Florida Peninsula between us.

The Endeavor will be on a 13-day mission to the International Space Center and will deliver a new module and an attached cupola.

As exciting as watching space shuttle history unfold right before my eyes was, I found it easy to crawl back into bed and fall back asleep to catch a couple of winks before I had to be up again at 6 AM to see Spud off to school (by the way, I crawl back into bed after Spud left and grabbed a few more winks).

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I love cows, I always have. I collected cow statues as a kid. I think I finally amassed a mismatched herd of about 25 head of cattle.

My maternal grandfather had some cows and when we visited him I would love to help feed them and their calves.

There are 'Cracker Cows' in the old orange groves across the road from my house. These cows' ancestors were left behind by the Spanish explorers of the 1500's.

They are called 'Cracker Cattle' because the cowhunters (don't you dare call them cowboys) would hunt for the wild cows and round them up via a bullwhip. The whip never touched the cows; it made a loud cracking sound as the cowhunters flicked it above the cows while rounding them up.

The term 'Cracker' can also apply to some people in Florida. It is often used with a sense of pride, indicating that the person's family has lived in Florida for many generations; these people are the descendants of the original settlers of Florida who arrived in 1763. Many of the settlers hunted wild cows with a whip.

I love cows and I love history, so I think it's great to see both of these loves married together when I look across the road and see the Cracker Cattle grazing in the old orange groves.