Friday, April 30, 2010

Happy May Day

May Day and Maypole celebrations are common in Germanic countries. Since many Catawbans trace their roots back to Germany, the tradition of "winding the maypole" lived on. Many residents recall the weaving of ribbons around a wooden or metal pole to music, creating a lovely pattern to welcome spring. The above picture was taken in Hickory, and I believe that George Lyerly is in it, but correct me if I'm wrong.

A woman online actually collects postcards of different maypole dances and May Day festivities and can be found here. She got the postcards from California and they are so interesting! She also has links to learn more about this intriguing ritual.

Her own recollection of the celebration: "I remember that the pole was in the school yard and the colorful crepe paper ribbons were attached to the top. The boys would have a ribbon and walk to the right, the girls would take a ribbon and walk left. The boys and girls would walk in opposite directions holding the ribbons taut. As the children met, we would alternate by going under the ribbon of the first boy then go over the ribbon of the next boy (the boys would reverse the pattern) and so on. This up and down or in and out movement would create a weaving pattern (tabby weave) down the pole as the ribbons got shorter and shorter. I'm not positive, but I think there was an odd number of either boys or an odd number of girls in order to create the weave. It was almost like a dance because we moved to music. The winding of the Maypole was a traditional activity every year that the whole school participated in to welcome spring. Also, when I was young we made May baskets out of squares cut from left over wall paper--rolling them into cone shapes, adding a handle, then filling the baskets with handpicked flowers. That evening we would hang them on our friends' doors (usually older seniors), ring the door bell or knock, then run and hide and watch them find the flowers from our hiding places. I have very fond childhood memories of May Day."

Happy May Day, Catawba County!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Book Includes Murray's Mill

Last weekend, a visitor to the Mill brought with her a great book entitled "Our Vanishing Americana," by Mike Lassiter. She brought it because her goal is to visit all the different places featured in the publication and have an employee or interpreter at each location sign her book. Kind of like a North Carolina-themed "bucket list."

The book was beautiful and I was surprised by the pages dedicated to Murray's Mill, right here in Catawba County. Check out the website for the book, learn more about the author's project, keep updated on news and events, and enjoy some photographs.

Lassiter, a Statesville native and UNC Chapel Hill grad, teamed up with PBS to create a production based on his book in 2009. Enjoy the site...and turn your volume up! The website has nice music.

The Mill always has great guests with wonderful stories to share. Thank you!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

For Earth Day, we wanted to remind readers that Murray's Mill is collecting aluminum cans to raise money for two projects: painting the waterwheel and getting a glass case made for Lloyd Murray's CLOSED sign. Collecting aluminum cans for these projects uses items that are already available at the mill and is environmentally friendly. It helps contain waste that could end up around our site, on the road, and in the creek. It also shows that lots of 'little bits' together can make something big and a big difference. Thanks for your support!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

"Run of the Mill" Saturday

Today Murray's Mill hosted Catawba Valley Community College's "Seeds of Service" 5k cross-country run/walk. Registration began at 8 and the race kicked off at 9 am. Volunteers cheered runners along with encouraging words and water. The day started out a little bit cool and overcast but warmed up and was gorgeous by the end of the event.

Race proceeds this year benefit Safe Harbor Rescue Mission in Hickory and New Vision Ministries, a global organization that helps feed children in Haiti.

Visit and to learn more about these charities. Enjoy the photos from the day!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Taxes through Time

Ever find yourself sitting around wondering, "how did the U.S. government finance the Civil War?" Yeah, I didn't think so, but the answer might surprise you--in fact, you may even have evidence of it in some old family scrapbooks.

In "celebration" of today being federal income tax day, I wanted to share something interesting I recently learned while researching photographs for a genealogy project. I was trying to estimate dates from a few photos called cabinet cards or carte-de-visites (a "CDV" in archival jargon). You may be familiar with CDVs without realizing it; they are portraits, usually of a quite stoic-looking ancestor, printed onto what feels like cardboard. A clue on the back gave me a date range that helped significantly.

They were quite popular in the 1860s as they were relatively inexpensive and could be mailed easily or used as calling cards. You could even buy CDVs of famous people, such as Ulysses S. Grant, and studio portraits of entertainers, actors, and actresses, sort of like collecting baseball cards would be later on.
Anyway, on the backs of many CDVs are small adhesive squares of paper that look much like postage stamps, a direct result of the Revenue Act of 1862 (Now that whole Stamp Act thing from social studies is starting to make sense, right? Yep, actual stamps on paper). You can read more here.

Virtually every document was required to carry a tax stamp, as were many proprietary articles such as matches, medicines, playing cards, perfume, and, you guessed it, photographs--but only for a short period of time, thus narrowing down the possible date ranges for this mystery person.

While many of these stamps have been lost over time, the durability of CDVs allowed some to survive. The two I have on my photographs are both blue, 2-cent stamps featuring George Washington's portrait, but there were several varieties printed during the "War Between the States." Start looking at the backs of your pictures and see what you may find!

Monday, April 12, 2010

"Wanted: War stories"

The CCHA's participation in the Veterans History Project was featured on the front page of the Hickory Daily Record today. You can read the article here. Please contact the Museum of History, (828) 465-0383 or our website for more information.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Hickory Crawdads

In the Charlotte Observer today, there was an article about the Hickory Crawdads baseball team getting a new field manager, Bill Richardson.

In February, the CCHA received a mounted article donated by the Hickory Crawdads. The article, entitled "Hickory Sticks," was front page news in the August 15, 1994 issue of the "The Sporting News" magazine. "The Sporting News" was established in 1886 to cover baseball. It currently publishes articles about several sports and is owned by American City Business Journals, a company based in Charlotte.

"Hickory Sticks" profiles the team, "Crawdadmania," and provides photographs of spectators in L.P. Frans Stadium. The minor league team, initially affiliated with the Chicago White Sox, debuted in 1993. The Crawdads set the South Atlantic League attendance record that year.

The Hickory Crawdads now are a Class A affiliate of the Texas Rangers. The first home game of the 2010 season is April 16 versus the Kannapolis Intimidators.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Miracle of Hickory

Have you seen the "Miracle of Hickory" exhibition at the Hickory History Center yet? Incredible story about our community coming together to fight the polio epidemic of the 1940s. For further reading about polio and Hickory, Joyce Hostetter has written several wonderful books about the topic, including "Blue" and "Comfort". Joyce also recently blogged about our blog! You can read more here. Thanks, Joyce!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Pretty day for a picnic!

This weekend's weather is supposed to be warm and sunny. Both Murray's Mill and the Bunker Hill Covered Bridge make great places for a picnic. You'll find picnic tables in several locations on the mill property as well as a nature trail along the creek. The General Store will be open with sodas in glass bottles (they just taste so much better that way!) for sale. Come on out and welcome spring!

Bunker Hill Covered Bridge.

Balls Creek at Murray's Mill.

View of the pond at Murray's Mill.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Opening Day

In celebration of the start of baseball season, a few photos from the archives...for more baseball, know that the Hickory Crawdads play their first home game 4/16!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Closed for Easter

All CCHA sites will be closed tomorrow, April 4, for Easter. Thank you and have a wonderful holiday!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vintage Easter greetings

From the archives...