Friday, January 20, 2012

Faded photographs and newts

That program for the 1902 Chautauqua I've been scanning also contains several photographs of Chariton homes and businesses, including some views I've not seen before. Although the historical society has the originals of some, others are missing --- and I wish they'd turn up in someone's attic.

This is a 1902 view of Frank and Minnie Crocker's home, now at the core of Fielding Funeral Home, which illustrates a couple of points about how Lucas Countyans once lived (although most lived on a scale substantially less grand).

Built ca. 1888, the house originally had only modest first-floor porches sheltering entrances, but extensive balcony-like porches on the second floor.

 In fact, hardly any house built in Chariton prior to the 1890s had extensive porches. Front-porch sitting (and genteel partying) didn't come along until the 1890s, after which nearly every new house was built with extensive porches and porches were added to existing houses.

Our gradest home, the Mallorys' Illion, was wrapped in new porches for partying during the 1890s, and Frank and Minnie adorned the southeast angle of their home with porches featuring cut-stone bases, too. These porches remained in place until Keith Fielding's first major expansion of the funeral home, but the elements were saved, reused and may be seen now in the newer porches that sheild the entrance front of funeral home's chapel wing.

Also note the windmill to the west of the house. Chariton did not have a municipal water system when this photo was taken, so most likely the windmill pumped water from the Crocker well to a holding tank in the attic of the house from which it was distributed by gravity to bathroom and kitchen.

That absence of a water system was one of the reasons why such large sections of the town square burned so frequently. Firefighters armed with Old Betsy and a hook and ladder wagon relied on the water from four cisterns at the corners of the square when a building caught fire and when that water supply was exhausted, had to pump water up to the square from the small lake that filled what now is Yocom Park. It's a wonder as much survived as did.

This 1902 photo from the Chautauqua booklet of what then was the brand new Crocker-Ensley Block illustrates just how little that wonderful Richardson Romanesque facade has changed --- and how little would be required to return it to its original configuration. Because this facade, as well as that of the Stanton Building next door,  mirror in material and style the courthouse, I'm wondering if they were designed by the same architectural firm, Des Moines-based Foster & Liebbe.


Snow is in the forecast here today, but only a little --- while the northern half of the state is blanketed with winter storm watches and warnings. The predicted overnight low in Chariton is zero, but up north in Mason City where I once lived, too --- minus-12. Brrr. I'm glad to be here rather than there.


I guess I really wasn't surprised about how persecuted I felt Wednesday when Wikipedia suspended service for a few hours in protest. It was darned inconvenient to have to actually look elsewhere, even in a BOOK, when that universal source of miscellaneous information wasn't available.

But I was surprised yesterday to discover that I missed Facebook. About twice a year, my security program develops an intense distaste for Facebook, blocking access to it entirely and throwing up angry warnings every time another site with a Facebook link is called up --- and more than half the pages I look at regularly now contain Facebook links.

The patch was applied and everything returned to normal after a few hours, so I can tune in again every few hours to see what my Facebook friends have been up to.

I still don't understand, however, why Facebook insists on defaulting to the display of "highlighted" posts (who the heck highlights them?) first, rather than a sequential display.


And I've been looking after Thursday's open-marriage allegations for parallels via faithful Wikipedia between that leading GOP contender and his namesake, the "aquatic amphibian of the family Salamandridae."

According to that source, newts metamorphose through three distinct developmental life stages --- aquatic larva, terrestrial juvenile and adult. Adult newts, according to Wikipedia, have "lizard-like bodies and may be either fully aquatic, living permanently in the water, or semi-aquatic, living terrestrially but returning to the water each year to breed."

Those stages correspond with the number of Gingrich marriages, so the parallels between Newt the candidate and Newt the amphibian may have some relevance. In all likelihood, however, the amphibian has a better record of consistent morality, so the salamander is probably the better Christian.


Ed said...

You must have missed this tidbit and it is too late now but had you hit the ESC key on your keyboard after being denied Wikipedia, you would have gained access. It was just part of the protest against government meddling into the internet.

Patrick said...

Frank, at the top of the newsfeed on Facebook, you will see "sort" in small gray letters. Click on that, and you have the option to select "recent stories" as opposed to highlighted ones.