Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Droll Yankee

It happened up on Pease Hill during mud time, or so they say…

The story is told on a cassette in the collection of the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room in the Dewey Decimal system 390s which focuses on customs, etiquette and folklore. This is the story and the story behind the story, as they say... but first a summary of the story.  

Two Yankees were talking along side of the road and they saw something right in the middle of the road. They watched it for a time and it was working its way down the road "kinda slow through the mud."

One said to the other, what's that? The other says,
Well he says I don’t know (he) said I think it might be a cat
Well I says could be but there ain’t no tail on it that I could see
Well he says might be a bobtail cat mind ya

The other says,
Well I says might be but there ain’t no bobtail cat in this town I don’t know of one, d’you?
Well, he didn’t
So we watched that and it come on down
After a while he says to me

I think that’s a woodchuck
Now I says, you know darn well you never see a woodchuck hang in the middle of the road like that They’re always running from one stone wall t’the other
This goes on for a while, and ...

‘Bout then you could see it t’was a hat
That’s t’wat it t’was
It was a Grey felt hat
And I says to myself
I got looking at that
It was Kinda of a peaked model
Had sort of a brown smudge on the starboard side
And I says to Henry I’ve seen that hat before

Then they realize that there is a person under the hat deep in the mud. (Please realize that the magic of the story is in how it is told in a strong Yankee dialect).

The punch line comes at the end,
And I says ... leaned down some t’ speak close to him you know so he could hear
And I says Will I says
kinda muddy walking ain’t it
Well, he says
I ain’t a foot, i’m a horseback

Note these photos were taken on Pease Hill in Tamworth, New Hampshire not far from the Kilham family place (more on this later). The title of the recording is A Maine Pot-Hellion. The title refers to a type of stew.

The liner notes explain that Peter Kilham came up with the idea of linking the stories together with the device of a postman making his rounds (click on images to enlarge them).

Peter Kilham's son Larry recently published a biography of his father.

He writes about Peter's interest in recording nature sounds and an event with the Kennedys.

However, Peter is best known as the inventor of the Droll Yankee bird feeders.

He was also founded a company that created aluminum furniture.

He and Frank Hinder also created the Tamworth Nurse's Map in 1932.

Another story on the cassette has been turned into a book also in the Henney History Room collection.

These stories are only a small taste of the many tall tales that available for your reading and listening pleasure in the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room.

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Spring Red, White and Green...

As we are heading into summer in Conway, you can see the red, white and green of Spring.

The red you see here are the Red Maples. We will come back to this. Let's start with the Spring green. It it is the lime green color seen on some of these trees (click on images to enlarge them). You can compare it to the White Pine needles that are dark green. Pines are evergreen and they don't change color much.

More Spring green can be seen across street at the Saco Valley Overlook explored in a previous blog (see this link). Further beyond can be seen the white snow that still remains on Mount Washington.

 You can read about Thoreau's views on Mount Washington from a spot further south in Conway at this link

In previous blogs we have explored Jeremy Belknap's insights into how trees were used by settlers. For example, how locust was good for fence posts and maple was used for sugaring. In this case, we are using the trees themselves to learn about the early settlers.

Spring green can help identify old farming field patterns. Look up at the gentle slope above the trees in the foreground at the foot of the Moat Mountains in the back. These fields were once open and accessed by the appropriately named "High Street." In the detail below you can see the shape of the early farm fields.

Spring green makes me think of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin in Wisconsin. Taliesin is Welsh for "shining brow." According to Wikipedia "Spring green" is a color included on the color wheel that is precisely halfway between cyan and green. When plotted on the CIE chromaticity diagram it corresponds to a visual stimulus of 505 nanometers on the visible spectrum. Spring green is a pure chroma on the color wheel.

A box of crayons can help you distinguish the variations of verde. According to "" the reason for this lime green color has to do with the way foliage develops. Young leaflets' chloroplasts -- the part of the plant that contains the green pigment chlorophyll -- are still developing, so the leaves tend to be lighter. New leaves are also thinner, with fewer waxy or tough layers that can darken the green color.

When leaves start maturing they begin making additional pigments. Some of these molecules can give leaves the yellow and red colors you see in the fall.

Younger leaves generally have fewer accessory pigments, so the green of the chlorophyll that is present is not masked.

However, some new leaves, like those of the red maple, are typically tinged red in the spring. This is because lots of sugar is pumped into the small, young leaves to fuel their growth, and the sugar is sometimes converted into the red pigment anthocyanin and stored in the leaf, giving it a reddish appearance, Moore explained. As the leaves mature, the extra anthocyanin is metabolized and the leaves turn green.

The red of the maples also enhanced by the flowers this time of the year..

Meanwhile in the swamps, the beavers have been active.

The Conway Public Library has many books, maps and other resources to help you conquer cabin fever and get you out into nature.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Silloway - Out from the Shadows

Seen on the left of the massive original entrance doors to the Conway Public Library, the architectural rendering Original Drawing from which Conway Public Library was built is the second of three items to be conserved through a $4,000 grant from the Robert and Dorothy Goldberg Foundation and support from the Friends of the Conway Public Library for funding the original treatment evaluation and proposal. It was cleaned by paper conservator Marnie Cobbs and archivally framed by Louise Perry of Vintage Frames.

The other two items are an untitled work by Anne Goldthwaite (see this link) and Making Soap by Benjamin T. Newman (see this link).

Before restoration, the mat had been glued to the drawing ...

... and the backing board show strong signs of acid burn and staining.

The drawing is animated by three figures. The first shows a well dressed gentleman walking out of the original front doors.

Note the copper balustrade above the portico (see this link for more).

The weather vane on the drawing is not the "quill pen" that we currently have.

The title and the architect's name are detailed in very stylistic calligraphy (click on images to enlarge them).

However, notice the O.A.T. Del. indicating that another person actually delineated or drew the item.

The image was used in a number of publications preserved in the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room including the Order of Exercises, a program from the cornerstone ceremony from the event of June thirteenth, 1900 that includes a list of songs, prayers, benedictions and a historical address by the buildings architect, Thomas Silloway.

The drawing was also used in a memorial booklet for Thomas Jenks, who funded the building of the library.

A photograph of Silloway can be found in the library's "red" founder's room. However, it is kind of buried or hidden as one of 48 photos of people involved in building the original section of the library.

The drawing can be seen on the mantle in this photograph of Silloway in his office.

Silloway's name is carved in marble in the library's original foyer.

The road south of the library's original back door was named in his honor as seen in this 1908 Sanborn insurance map. 

The name remained on the 1923 version of the map. Notice the changes in the Chase-Wilder House west of the library.

By 1929 The name had been changed to Greenwood Avenue, although the old name was indicated in parenthesis.

On the other side of the original entrance doors is an architectural rendering of the recent addition to the library.

The grand opening of the expansion was held June 5, 2004.

And that work was also memorialized in stone,

So with the 15th anniversary of the expansion and renovation coming up it is almost time for another party.