Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Carp in the bathtub and Hoppin' John for the Holidays




Are you familiar with these traditional culinary holiday delights? Let me tell you some holiday stories from our extended family. 

Carp in the Bathtub is a popular Slavic holiday experience that was carried over from our family ancestors in central Europe to Chicago and celebrated by our Jewish, Catholic and Baptist relatives there. 


The story is told in a wonderful children's book that harkins back to an earlier era, before refrigeration, in which live carp in the bathtub provided fresh fish for the holiday.  


In some cases served as a delightful twelve course meal. 

We also enjoy the more mainstream, mid-western traditions from our Ohio family members of turkey and ham and green bean casserole with Campbell's cream of mushroom soup.

The tradition of Hoppin' John on New Year's Eve comes from our southern kin. 



Hoppin' John goes great with collards and corn bread or hushpuppies, or both!

A newer family tradition, Iskender, comes from some of our travels.  




Others countries represented in our extended family holiday celebrations include dishes from Panama, the Netherlands, and now New England (although our New England roots go back many generations) such as red flannel hash and dried apple pie topped with a thick slab of sharp cheddar cheese. 

Each of these different tastes unlocks involuntary memories containing the "essence of the past" as described by Proust in Remembrance of Things Past
 
For recipes contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room. 

For more on your own family history and maybe some forgotten traditions you would like to revive contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room. We offer free guidance and workshops on researching, preserving and sharing your family history and traditions. 

Have a very merry holiday and a happy New Year!




Wednesday, November 23, 2022

What do hurricanes and pine cones have in common?



Happy Fibonacci Day!


Today, November 23 is Fibonacci Day, because the numbers are in the Fibonacci sequence of 1, 1, 2, 3. So when written in month and date format it forms the sequence that can be charted out into a pattern. 

The Fibonacci pattern appears frequently in like the branching in trees, leaves on a stem, family trees of honeybees, flower petals, spirals of a sunflower and so on.

The sequence is named for Leonardo Fibonacci, a Medieval mathematician who lived in Pisa from around 1170 -1250 ad. 

Starting with 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, the Fibonacci sequence is created by adding up the two previous numbers to get the next one.

The sequence is used in computing, stock trading, and architecture and design.

Once we discovered the sequence, it started showing up everywhere. Nature is full of Fibonacci patterns, from DNA to hurricanes, leading some to dub the Fibonacci sequence “nature’s secret code.”
 
Another major contribution he made was "nothing."
 
He helped introduce the zero to the western world. 
 
Born to an Italian merchant, the young Leonardo traveled to North Africa with his father, where he was exposed to the Hindu-Arabic numeral system. The system, which includes zero and limits itself to 10 symbols, is much more agile and flexible compared to the unwieldy Roman numeral system. 
 
In 1202, Fibonacci published “Liber Abaci”, introducing Europe to the Hindu-Arabic system and his now-famous sequence.

The website here suggests a number of ways to celebrate the day including

Plan a Fibonacci feast.
The Fibonacci sequence occurs very frequently in common fruits and vegetables and when prepared together, these foods make for a fun meal! Prepare things like artichokes, pineapple, Romanesco and pomegranate to see how the sequence occurs in nature.

Take a Fibonacci-inspired nature walk.
Depending on where you live, you may be able to easily discover Fibonacci sequence in flowers, trees, and much more. Take a nature walk and inspect things like pine cones, ferns, daisies, sunflowers, and snails, since all of these things are made up of Fibonacci numbers.

Seek out the Fibonacci sequence in famous works of art.
Many famous works of art employ the golden spiral or golden rectangles (based on the Fibonacci sequence). Art works like “The Great Wave” by Katsushika Hokusai or many of Mondrian’s square-filled paintings are great examples of the sequence in action!

To learn more about math and history contact us at the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room. We offer a number of free programs for schools and community groups related to the subject. 
 

Thursday, November 17, 2022

The Census Celebrates November!

November is best known for celebrating Thanksgiving. 


But did you know it is also the time to celebrate Geography Awareness Week and Native American Indian Heritage Month. 

How does all this tie together to the U.S. Census Bureau? 

Today I received an email bulletin fron the U.S. Census Bureau that covered all these topics and more. See this link here

Some of the fun facts from the bulletin - there are 4 places named Turkey and 5 places named Cranberry in the U.S. FMI see this link here.

Facts should not lie, but in this case they do. If you look on the left of that pdf under "A History of Giving Thanks" you will note it focuses on the 1621 Pilgrim event so many people believe is the earliest celebrated in what is now the United States. 

I find a certain irony of the census bureau getting the date and the location of the first thanksgiving wrong. See my previous blogs here and here

The census bulletin also features American Indian Heritage Month. The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916, in New York. In 1990, then-President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating the month of November "National American Indian Heritage Month." FMI see this link here

The Henney History Room of the Conway Public Libary has a number of resources on this subject and we would love to help you learn more. 

Now to geography and the census. FMI see this link here

To give you an idea of how the censue can help with geography, let's start with the painting below:




This painting can be found at the Conway Public Library just around the corner from the main circulation desk. The recent release of the 1950 census by the Federal Government adds an new and unique perspective to this little corner of Conway. You can find info on the painting in our online catalog here

The 1950 census provides us with a snapshot of life inside the home. 

Other historical resources such as maps, photos, booklets and even film, contribute to provide an in-depth picture/window into the history of the site. 

The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room has a photograph that very nearly matches the painting. 



You can find it in our online catalog here. Note the two images are from almost the same angle, with same number and location of chimneys and a the white picket fence. 

The Conway Public Library provides access to the 1950 census through its geneaology databases. Here is a screen shot about the owner and residents of the building...


... and some details from the original hand-written record (click on images to enlarge them). 



x
x


x
x



We also have a booklet written by the owner's daughter. 



The caption for the cover photo reads "The doctor with Joanna, age 2 1/2, and the family mascot, Jerry, in front of the house and office on Pleasant Street." 

The book is full of wonderful stories as told by family and friends. Now for the real kicker, we can actually take a peek back in time, and watch the daughter, now older dancing in the house. 





You can find a link to our youtube video channel here. Scroll the time bar to part 1 at 13 min and 45 seconds. 

So waltz on down to the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room so see what we can discovery about your history!

Thursday, September 29, 2022

Time to Celebrate Autumn!




These are some of the iconic images of Autumn from the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room that greet you as you enter the library. 

You are invited to learn more about this subject at our Art of the Harvest program on Wednesday, November 2, 2002 from 6:30 - 7:30 pm. FMI follow this link here

We would also be happy to present this free program to local school and community groups. 

You are also welcome to visit the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room to explore the many other items we have related to the season. For our opening hours and contact info follow this link here

This is just a small sample of a seasonal items we have in a variety of media including VHS, DVD, CD-ROM, life style periodicals, poetry and period guidebooks. 

For an interesting perspective on Halloween in Conway follow this link here to The Conway Boy video and view the clip at 8 minutes and 33 seconds (...little kids sure are comical). 

We are always looking for materials to add to our collection. We are particularly interesting in collecting items from the last 50 years to keep our archives up to date. If you have any photos of your own Autumn celebrations (Halloween, Thanksgiving, etc.) or stories you would like to share please contact us. In a hundred years people will want to know what life was like in Conway way back when!






z

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Happy World Oceans Day!

Greetings from the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Today is World Ocean Day! Time to shellebrate!

In honor of today's event and our upcoming "Oceans of Possibilities" theme for our summer library reading program ... I offer you one of Keith Henney's most unusual books...


...with the intriguing title, "A Hunt for Sea-Going Elephants, 1899-1901." 

You can find a link to it in our online catalog here. For more on Keith Henney see our previous blog here

This book is quite a departure from the many technical and scientific books he wrote on electricity and radio, or his many books on local history.
 
It serves as a good introduction to today's theme.  The purpose of World Ocean Day is to inform the public of the impact of human actions on the ocean, develop a worldwide movement of citizens for the ocean, and mobilize and unite the world's population on a project for the sustainable management of the world's oceans. 

The book's title refers to the hunt for elephant seals for their oil to light lamps before electrical lights were available. The book is based on the logs and records of a year long voyage of a the R. S. Graham, a schooner, sailing vessel to the far South Seas. 

According to various internet sources, elephant seals were hunted for their high-quality oil, 200 pounds of which could be obtained from a large, adult male. The oil was used for lamps, lubricating machinery, and making paint, soap, and candles. It was so popular that by the end of the 1880s, after 40 years of hunting, elephant seals were thought to be extinct.

Elephant seals are large, oceangoing earless seals in the genus Mirounga. The two species, the northern elephant seal (M. angustirostris) and the southern elephant seal (M. leonina), were both hunted to the brink of extinction for oil by the end of the 19th century, but their numbers have since recovered. They are the largest extant carnivorans, weighing up to 4,000 kilograms (8,800 lb).

Elephant seals are marine mammals classified under the order Pinnipedia, which, in Latin, means feather- or fin-footed.

Throughout the book, Henney's interest in period language and arcane and obsolete terminology such as gaboon, earing, gripes, yard, opodeldoc is on display.

FMI on our summer reading program for 2022 "Oceans of Possibilities" and our kick-off event on June 16, see our website here. Throughout the summer we will host other events focusing on turtles, seashells, lobsters, microplastics, and stories, songs and dance. 

The Mount Washington Valley has some other "ocean" related claims to fame. For info about local polar explorers see some of our previous blogs here and here

We have a large collection of books on these expeditions and details about the ocean voyages they undertook. 

While New Hampshire only has 13 miles of ocean coastline, our ocean related property played an important role in late 19th century art. Here are a selection of artworks to enjoy. 











In previous blogs we have explored the farm related works of Winslow Homer. This summer New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibit of Homer's artworks related to the ocean. 


FMI on the exhibit see this link here

Homer's work spanned the frigid, tumbling waters of the North Atlantic to the tropical waters of Florida and the Caribbean. 

The centerpiece of the exhibition is Homer’s iconic The Gulf Stream, a painting that reveals his lifelong engagement with charged subjects of race, geopolitics, and the environment. Featuring 88 oils and watercolors, Crosscurrents represents the largest critical overview of Homer’s art and life in more than a quarter of a century. Here are some more of his works to enjoy. 






In addition to art, songs, stories and dance, science is another way to understand the oceans. 

Recently the ocean mapping at UNH was featured on NH Chronicle. You can learn more about that program and view the segment here


Back in the sub-tropics my new son-in-law has been mapping the warmer waters around Florida in part with an un-manned device. 




These and other scientific processes will help us meet the goals outlined above for World Oceans Day. 

The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room offers free outreach programs on all of the topics above to local schools and community groups. Feel free to contact us.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Happy World Art Day!


Forget that today is tax day. Instead celebrate World Art Day!

World Art Day was established ten years ago after a proposal was put forward at the 17th General Assembly of the International Association of Art (IAA) to declare April 15 as World Art Day.


According to the IAA, World Art Day celebrations help reinforce the links between artistic creations and society, encourage greater awareness of the diversity of artistic expressions and highlight the contribution of artists to sustainable development.

Art nurtures creativity, innovation and cultural diversity for all peoples across the globe and plays an important role in sharing knowledge and encouraging curiosity and dialogue. These are qualities that art has always had, and will always have if we continue to support environments where artists and artistic freedom are promoted and protected. In this way, furthering the development of art also furthers our means to achieve a free and peaceful world.

It is also an occasion to shine a light on arts education in schools, as culture can pave the way for inclusive and equitable education.

There is much to learn, share and celebrate on World Art Day, and UNESCO encourages everyone to join in through various activities such as debates, conferences, workshops, cultural events and presentations or exhibitions.

April 15 was chosen for World Art Day as it is also the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci, a symbol of world peace, freedom of expression, tolerance, brotherhood and multiculturalism. 

DaVinci's Mona Lisa was used to promote the Conway Public Library's display and silent auction of local art.  


The curious, but judgmental, chicken above is one of the paintings available through the silent auction which is being held to raise funds for our Teen Leadership Council. The auction is being held at the library until April 30 at 1pm so put your bid in early and often. 
  
FMI and to see all the 27 works of art in the auction see the link here
 
The paintings are on display in the circulation area stacks. 
 

 Can you find the chicken painting in the photo above?

You can also see some important examples of earlier local art of the White Mountains on display at the Conway Public Library. An internet search for the keywords "mwvhistory art" here yields images of some of the artworks we have explored in previous blogs here. 

Last night, Inez McDermott presented an excellent introduction to White Mountain art and artists as part of a lecture series hosted by the New Hampshire Historical Society in celebration of a temporary exhibit there. The lectures are being recorded for future research. 

FMI see this link here

Inez started her presentation with this painting by Winslow Homer entitled Artists Sketching in the White Mountains



I argue that the view is from North Conway's Sunset Hill, now the site of the Red Jacket Resort. FMI see our previous blog here

Inez also explained the important role that Benjamin Champney had in developing White Mountain Art. The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room offers a number of free outreach programs on White Mountain Art, some of which include examining some of the seventy plus items related to Champney in the collection of the Conway Historical Society including an artist's folding stool like the one seen in the painting above, Champney's brushes, sketchbooks, chromolithographs, vasculum, trade sign, painted firescreen, rocking chair and even his baby bonnet.




z

Saturday, April 9, 2022

Happy Antique Day!


Today is National Cherish an Antique Day! In the photo above, my son is posing with my grandfather's coal miner's helmet. It is now a treasured family heirloom. My grandfather was about ten years old when he started working in the mines. 

The thrill of antiques cuts across the generations. For a while now, the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room has been doing an outreach program at the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center using historical artifacts from the collection of the Conway Historical Society. 


Our program is just one of many that the Center provides with the help of local resources including health, fitness, dance and craft programs. 


We present a new program a couple times a month. In our "hands-on" program we use these artifacts to stimulate exploration and discussion about the larger cultural stories that these items tell.  


We have covered themes such as women's work, farming tools, and keeping warm for the winter. 

We offer similar programs for free to local schools and community groups. One school asked for a program on the history of local crafts and trades. 


One of the collections we included in that program were these wooden shoe heel blocks showing the stages involved in making historic shoes. The heel factory building these were made in still exists on Conway's Main Street just a short walk from the library. 

Recently we did a program of "mystery items." As soon as I pulled the item below out of a box one of the participants immediately recognized it and told us all how she remembered standing over one of these with her mother adjusting the hems on dress she made. 


This was a new discovery for me and after closer examination we did find the word "hem" stamped on it. 


We also found who made it and the patent number. FMI see the link here.


We soon looked it up on Google patents and learned even more. 
Another participant told us about this glass item and said it was for cutting the dough for tea biscuits that were boiled in water. 


Does anyone know more about this item? I have not been able to find another documentation on it yet. 

In previous blogs we have looked at antiques used as lawn decoration. 


FMI see this link here



Another interesting antique that serves as the Conway Public Library's official mascot was featured in our previous blog here

If you have cherished antiques of your own and want to learn more about saving or preserving them, searching or researching them and sharing them through family stories, scrap books or your own family history website let us know and we can suggest the best ways and more importantly the methods not to use. Did you know there are "good plastics" and "bad plastics" to keep your priceless heirlooms in? Especially bad are those so-called "magnetic" photo albums that were popular a number of years ago. 

So be careful! Be educated! And enjoy!