Friday, March 29, 2019

Mom's Art & AMIA Stained Glass

In January 2018 I posted an item on this blog entitled "My Mother the Artist." I discussed her career as a watercolor artist that has continued for more than five decades. Carolyn Shores Wright turned 89 this past December and continues to paint.

Over the years mom's art has been licensed for many items, ranging from prints and greeting cards to coasters and trivets. One of the companies licensing her work is AMIA, which has manufactured hand-painted glass gifts since 1995. The products are made in Hong Kong; mom's samples have been shipped to her directly from there. 

The Collector's Addition is a distributor that carries new and many retired AMIA products. Amazon and WalMart also offer many of them. Unfortunately, none of these sites seem to easily identify the artist for each piece. For Amazon and Wal-Mart, use the search string "amia stained glass carolyn shores wright" and you will find many of them. 

You can find mom's art on ArtFire, Etsy, Fine Art America and Pinterest. You can follow her on Twitter @CShoresInc and Facebook as CShoresInc.

Below are photographs of some of the AMIA items created from mom's work. Most of these were included in a recent shipment.

In April 2017 we made a trip to Colorado Springs. One day we visited the nearby town of Manitou Springs, which has lots of interesting restaurants and gift shops. In one of the latter we found this AMIA item of mom's for sale. I've written about that trip in a blog post here.

This piece and the one below are the two largest AMIA items. They are both VERY large compared to all the others!

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Alabama Interstates: A Bit of History

On March 3 Dianne and I were in downtown Birmingham headed to Texas de Brazil for dinner. Currently that area is undergoing a significant transformation: the old Interstate is being torn down and a new section built. If you've ever been to that part of the city around the BJCC, you'll see from the first three photos below that things are looking strange there!

Seeing this work underway naturally made me wonder about the history of Interstate development in Birmingham and the rest of Alabama. I've included a dozen or so photographs and one newspaper article below to give a flavor of the early days in the state. 

For more detail you can read about the Interstate Highway System in general here. Wikipedia also has articles on all the Interstates in Alabama

On May 30, 2019, published numerous photos of the ongoing construction in downtown Birmingham.

Part of I-65 in Cullman has been designated a Blue Star Memorial Highway. I've written about that here.

Stretch of Interstate opens in Ensley August 1968

Source: Birmingham News 28 August 1969
via Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections

Interstate north of Birmingham November 1959

Interstate north of Birmingham August 1962

Interstate 65 & 85 interchange Montgomery December 1973

Interstate under construction in Birmingham in 1968

Interstate under construction in Birmingham in 1968

Start of construction of I-85 in Montgomery in May 1968

Crane lifting a steel beam for Interstate in Birmingham 1968

Gov. Guy & Helen Hunt at an I-59 rest stop November 2, 1990

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Alabama Typewriter Company

I recently passed by this building just off the UAB campus near the Fish Market Restaurant on 6th Avenue South. The place appears empty and forlorn; I think the venerable Alabama Typewriter Company has finally closed.

Let's investigate....

Here's the store front as it looked on March 3. Compare that to this Google Street View from February 2017. The website advertised on the business next door, is no longer active, either. According to the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, that site has been inactive since 2006. 

Billy Ray Hagood in his shop ca. 2017

Source: Jonathan Krohn for the Trussville Tribune via BhamWiki

According to an April 2011 profile, Mr. Hagood bought the shop at this location in 1986. That profile on noted, "Founded as a Victor Adding Machine Co. branch in 1922, the typewriter repair shop took on its current name in the 1930s or '40s, though Hagood doesn't know exactly when."

The BhamWiki entry expands on that history: "The business was founded as a local office of the Victor Adding Machine Company in 1922 and became independent in the 1930s or 1940s. In the 1950s and 1960s it was owned by W. R. Hudson and located at 1821 5th Avenue North."

On September 1, 2017, a truck crashed into the front of the business. Hagood was not injured, but spent two hours trapped inside until debris was cleared for him to leave. In a WVTM-TV report, Hagood said the event might be the "end of an era." You can read more about the incident and see some dramatic photos here

Perhaps the business never reopened. There is a Facebook page, but the most recent entry is December 19, 2013. The phone number there and other places on the web is out of service; dial 205-322-8691 and you get that disembodied voice telling you "The number has been disconnected or is no longer in service".

The following two entries and the ad are taken from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages telephone directory. As you can see, the information for the Victor Adding Machine Company and the Alabama Typewriter Company are the same. I included the ad just for fun. 

Additional material follows the ad. Feel free to leave your memories of this business or typewriters in the comments. 

This extract from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages shows the Alabama Typewriter Company with the same address as the Victor Adding Machine Company shown below and with an additional phone number. You can see that address on Google Maps.

This extract from the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages shows the Victor Adding Machine Company at 1923 5th Avenue North.

This advertisement appears in the 1945 Birmingham Yellow Pages in the "Typewriters" section.

This particular typewriter has been on display in recent years at the Helena Depot Deli & Grill. The Bessemer Hall of History has a typewriter used by Adolf Hitler. Typewriters can still be found at flea markets and antique and consignment shops. You can read a history of typewriters here.

One of the world's best known collectors of typewriters is actor Tom Hanks. The short stories in his 2017 book were inspired by his collection.

You can read a profile of Stanley Adelman, "New York's patron saint of typewriters" here.

And then there is the Boston Typewriter Orchestra...

Finally, here I am in my office in Draughon Library at Auburn University in the 1970's, pounding away on an IBM Selectric.   

Friday, March 15, 2019

Quick Visit to a North Alabama Town: Baileyton

On my trips to Huntsville to visit mom I often get off I-65 and drive through some of the back roads and small towns along the way. One of those towns on a recent trip was Baileyton in northeastern Cullman County. Baileyton is located on Alabama Highway 69 not far from Arab. 

In her book Place Names in Alabama (1989), Virginia Foscue tells us the town was named after Robert Bailey, a farmer from Georgia who settled in the area in 1870. As noted in the Encyclopedia of Alabama entry for Baileyton, Bailey also operated a cotton gin. A post office was established in 1883; the town incorporated in 1973. 

Baileyton was originally located in Blount County, but became part of Cullman County when it was created in 1877. The Alabama Official & Statistical Register gives the town's changing population over the years: 1037 in 1890, 1197 in 1900, and then as high as 2043 in 1920. The 2016 U.S. Census estimate listed 766 as the population.

Many different businesses have operated in Baileyton such as sawmills, gristmills, general stores and cotton gins. The statewide Farmer's Alliance operated a store in the 1880's. A Masonic Lodge received a charter in December 1890. Dr. John T. Winn had a medical practice and drug store from 1898 until 1936. 

In her 1972 book Combing Cullman County Margaret Jean Jones lists a number of businesses then operating in Baileyton, ranging from a supermarket to laundromats, beauty and barber shops, fabric shop, furniture store, trading stamp redemption store and a drag strip. According to Google Maps, the Baileyton Good Time Drag Strip is still operating on County Road 1719. 

Jones also discusses the Empire Nursery established by R.L. Baker north of the town in 1926. He arrived in Baileyton in 1898, but left for California in 1913 and entered the nursery business. When he returned he began cultivating and cross-breeding various types of apples and peaches and produced numerous different varieties of each fruit. The nursery operated until at least 1939. 

A one room schoolhouse opened in 1885. By 1900 fifty students were enrolled. In 1916 a two-story, four room school was built that originally included students through the eleventh grade. In 1927 that changed to the ninth grade; three years later the building was expanded when two nearby schools were consolidated with Baileyton's. Today the town is served by Parkside Elementary School. 

In 1936 a female entertainer named Sarah Ophelia Colley made an appearance at the Baileyton school. She worked for a theatrical company based in Atlanta, the Wayne P. Sewell Production Company, putting together plays and musicals for civic organizations around the South. Colley came to Baileyton to produce an amateur musical comedy, and while there met a Mrs. Jim Burden. The Burdens invited her to stay with them for a few days, and Mrs. Burden told many stories during that time. Colley repeated these to friends, who urged her to build an act around them. 

In 1939 Colley introduced her character of Minnie Pearl in Aiken, South Carolina. By November 1940 she made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, an association that would last over 50 years. Colley also portrayed the character on the Hee Haw television program from 1969 until 1991. Colley told the story of the character's origins on the May 1, 1957, episode of This Is Your LifeColley died in 1995.

A few more comments are below some of the photos. 

Most small towns have a spectacular ruin or two, and Baileyton is no exception.

In April 1870 Robert Bailey purchased 40 acres of land from the L&N Railroad; Alabama Highway 69 now divides that original plot. The stone notes he and his wife were "early settlers" and founders of what is now the Baileyton United Methodist Church. They are buried in Baileyton Cemetery. 

Source: Find-A-Grave

Baileyton United Methodist Church is listed on the Alabama Register of Landmarks and Heritage and the cemetery on the state's Historic Cemetery Register

Source: The church's Facebook page

Sarah Ophelia Colley as "Minnie Pearl" in 1965

Source: Wikipedia

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Legacy and Justice Visit to Montgomery

On the Sunday of Labor Day weekend last year Dianne, our son Amos and I made a trip to Montgomery. Our destination? Two places that had just opened the previous April 26: the Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. The Equal Justice Institute operates both facilities. The Legacy Museum covers black experience in the U.S. "From Enslavement to Mass Incarceration" as its subtitle states. The National Memorial documents the victims of lynching in the United States, a project that continues.  

As is often the case, that September day in Alabama was very hot. Yet both locations were crowded with people black and white. 

The opening of the museum and memorial attracted international attention. You can read two responses here and here. According to an email I recently received from EJI, almost 300,000 people had visited the sites by January 31, 2019. 

Further comments are below.  

Photos are not allowed in the Museum. The facility is 11,000 square feet and  was very crowded on the day we visited. People taking photographs would have been distractions from the message and perhaps disrespectful as well. Through various types of exhibits the museum describes the past oppression of blacks in the U.S. and current problems such as high incarceration rates. 

The exhibits and displays are not meant to comfort. The terrors of slavery and its aftermath of Reconstruction and sharecropping and the contemporary issues surrounding mass incarceration are vividly expressed. One display contains samples of soil from lynching sites across America. Naturally the vast majority are in the southern states. Another vivid exhibit uses video technology  and slave pen recreations for narrations of first person slave accounts. 

This pair of sites offers a very well-done and thoughtful series of exhibits and experiences. Their addition to Alabama's already impressive Civil Rights Museum Trail will bring even more  state, national and international tourists to learn the history. 

This sculpture by Dana King is dedicated to the women who sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott

The National Memorial building contains over 800 hundred six-foot long steel monuments representing each county in the U.S. where lynchings have taken place. On the grounds outside the building are an equal number of monuments that will be available for counties to claim and install locally. 

These monuments are one part of EJI's Community Remembrance Project. Other initiatives include historical markers at lynching sites and the collection of soil from those sites. 

Since we live in Shelby County, I especially noticed these names. I'll have to do some research...

Sculpture "Raise Up" by Hank Willis Thomas 

The Legacy Museum is located on the site of a slave warehouse, and is one block from the site of Montgomery's slave markets. Also nearby were the river docks and train station where tens of thousands of slaves were moved in and out of the city.