A Blast with the Past: East Tennessee History Fair 2014

Sharing costumes with kids - just for fun

Everyone loves wearing a costume at the East Tennessee History Fair

If the term “jam-packed” ever defined a one-day festival, it would be most appropriate at the Eighth Annual East Tennessee History Fair sponsored by the East Tennessee Historical Society on August 16th! And you might wonder if anyone in our modern tech age would be interested.  But with record numbers in attendance (probably beating last year’s 13,000) and a grand slate of events, there was no way any one person could see it all . . .  but thousands tried. We hung out mainly in Krutch Park in the center of downtown Knoxville since there were reenactors, authors, and history groups galore.  And our position had a little to do with the proximity right next to the food trucks and Market Square Farmers Market, famous in its own right!  (See bottom of this post for a listing of other events that day.)

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

East Tennessee Historical Society, sponsor of the East Tennessee History Fair

Krutch Park was a-buzz with all the history folks.  Like the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable offering special commemorative items.  Since the Civil War Sesquicentennial is just around the corner, they know folks are watching web sites for updates so they can “do it up right.” They were happy to fill us in on what’ll be happening in East Tennessee.

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth at East Tennessee History Fair

You could find commemorative mugs and license plats at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Commemorative mugs and license plates at the Knoxville Civil War Roundtable booth.

Authors like Gordon T. Belt sat under tents and autographed books. Some even posed for pictures and told why they did all that research and published a book.  (No small feat, of course.)

Gordon T. Belt

Author of John Sevier: Tennessee’s First Hero, Gordon T. Belt, takes a break from autographing copies.

In another booth, Laura Still described her Knoxville Walking Tours.  You can have your choice of packaged tours — Civil War, Ghosts, Early Years, Gunslingers, Literary Heritage — and more.  And if you take one of the 90-minute jaunts, you’ll learn a little Knoxville history and add steps to your FitBit, too!

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

Laura Still of Knoxville Walking Tours

But most impressive (especially in the summer heat) were the many reenactors in the Living History Timeline representing Colonial days to WWII.  Several, like Kelly Ford in an authentic WWI uniform, told how he made everything using remnants from original clothing.

We were especially honored to meet Abe and Mary Lincoln (Tom and Susan Wright) and their son Tad (grandson Kyle Wright) behind The Holston.

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Tom & Sue Wright with grandson Kyle Wright pose as Mary, Tad, and Abe Lincoln

Near the side entrance to the East Tennessee Historical Society Museum, onlookers were fascinated that a blacksmith (Bill Rose) was plying his trade and sharing his techniques right on a city street . . .

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

Mike Rose demonstrates blacksmithing techniques in Krutch Park

while some young festival attendees fashioned dolls out of cloth scraps with the help of volunteer seamstresses — much as children would have done in days gone by.

A representative from The Society of Civil War Surgeons portrayed Col. Bill Walker as he shared how surgeries were performed using many of the instruments he had carefully displayed. (See those silver prongs?  They had something to do with “bustin’ up” kidney stones, but I wince even as I post this!)

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

Col. Bill Walker, Civil War Surgeon

David Dinwiddie shared the story and pictures of his great great uncle William Dinwiddie, a Knoxville policeman fatally shot by the infamous outlaw Kid Curry in 1902. The constable hat?  Yep, authentic.  Owned by William Dinwiddie and well preserved, don’t you think?

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

David Dinwiddie portrays a 1902 constable with original hat worn by great great uncle William Dinwiddie

In another tent, long-time friend Bill Alexander charmed us as only he can do with his poetry and “gen-u-wine” mountain humor.  Dubbed the Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s, Bill makes mountain berry baskets and writes poetry, much of which he recites when he performs for crowds who appreciate a true Appalachian humorist and lover of “the good life.”

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack's

Bill Alexander, Poet Laureate of Hippie Jack’s

Talented folks inside the East Tennessee History Center shared their knowledge and crafts  — like Dale Liles and Carolyn Rogers  – the art of spinning; Anne Freels  – how to make cornhusk dolls; and Edward Bardill and others who moved handmade miniature soldiers to replicate the Battle of Campbell’s Station.

By all accounts, the East Tennessee History Fair was one for . . . well, the history books:  record crowd, long list of events, and kids (and grownups) listening while those in the know shared what they came to share.  Better check this one out next year.  It really is a Blast from the Past.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Jeremy Hall, Union soldier, shows Zoe his Civil War firearm.

Other events in the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair:

  • Free admission to the Museum of East Tennessee History
  • Davy Crockett’s Birthday celebration
  • “History Hound” Dog Costume Contest
  • WDVX Radio & Clayton Country Music Stage
  • Friends of the Library Book Sale
  • Meet the Authors & Book Signing (Gordon T. Belt, Natalie Sweet, Martha Wiley, Jack Neely, Bill Landry)
  • Raku Pottery activity
  • Living History Timeline
  • Demonstrating Artists
  • Historic Home Tours
  • Civil War Bus Tour
  • Tennessee Theatre Tours
  • Women’s Suffrage Memorabilia and Office Tours
  • Vintage Base Ball Doubleheader
  • East Tennesseans on Film (Bijou Theatre)
  • Civil War Commemoration Event
  • Live Music

For more information:

East Tennessee Historical Society:


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette

Staging a silhouette takes patience and good background lighting.  But sometimes a silhouette appears unexpectedly.  Like when we toured the Taj at sundown, right before closing time.

Taj Mahal, sundown

We snapped a photo of the long lines waiting to snake around and up and around again on the plaza level, despairing as we noted the time remaining for our visit and how long it would take for a view from above.  Then we made the inevitable decision based upon a statement we say frequently:  Oh, well.  Can’t do it all.  And, camera in hand, we snapped away at those fortunate enough to view the setting sun from one of the world’s most famous structures.  The result for us down below?  A couple of unexpected silhouettes and great memories of an oh-too-short-but-fabulous-anyway visit.

Silhouette of Taj Mahal

Taj Mahal at sundown

People at sundown, Taj Mahal, India

Silhouette at sunset, Taj Mahal, India

For more entries into the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Silhouette, click here.

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Travel theme: Endearing

Early morning at Colorado ranchIt could be said, I suppose, that travel to any locale is endearing.  And, to tell the truth, it is if you just love seeing something new. So on a recent trip to a friend’s ranch in Livermore, Colorado, with a group of women I’ve known since college days, I woke to watch the sky turn pink at sunrise only to find that the most endearing thing about those alone times was the chance to watch the hummingbirds.

Hummers at feeder in ColoradoOh, sure, we’ve all seen hummers.  But for some reason, these birds swarmed — not just visited — two feeders — a blue Mason jar and a round red one — as if these sips/slurps were their last. And the birds were undaunted by my presence.  Their colloquy continued whether I was inside the kitchen window or standing on the porch beside the hammock, camera in hand.  I can only guess what social dynamics were at play among this “hummingest” group of not-always friendly flappers engaged in a feeding frenzy.

Mornings became show time for the guests at the ranch as these endearing Rocky Mountain hummingbirds (both new and repeat diners) dipped into the nectar. You never know what your favorite take-back from a travel adventure will be, do you?

For more entries into Ailsa’s Travel theme: Endearing from her blog “Where’s My Backpack,” be sure to click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag

It wasn’t what I would call intentional.  Looking for zigzags, that is.  But nature has a way of showing off in an exquisite setting like Rocky Mountain National Park, offering magnificent examples for the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag.

At the Alpine Visitor Centerzigzag fencing outside the front door directs your eyes to the vista ahead . . .

Jack Fence: Alpine Visitor Ctr

where the zigzag of mountains hovers above layers of land below.

Rocky Mountain National Park vista

Tourists like us zigged and zagged along the winding highway.  Slowly, of course.  We didn’t want to miss a photo op left or right or front or back.

Winding road, Rocky Mtn. Nat. Park

And then when we spied a line of cars parked alongside the road. We, too, pulled over for a closer look.  Sure enough, those ahead had spotted the prize we were seeking:  elk grazing at eventide backed by a zigzag of mountain color.

Elk at eventide: Rocky Mtn. National Park

For more information on Rocky Mountain National Park, click here.

For more entries into the Weekly Photo Challenge: Zigzag, click here.




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Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture

Adventures sometimes just happen.  Unexpectedly even.  And so it was on the last day of a trip to a friend’s ranch in Livermore, Colorado.  My friend, the owner of the ranch and an ATV, said, Let’s take a ride,  and in no time at all, I grabbed my camera and hopped in.  We headed to Prairie Divide where textured landscapes lay on either side of rutted dirt roads — great country for ATVing and pointing at vistas filled with tundra, rocks, pine trees, and the occasional farmhouse.

Dirt road to Prairie Divide

We found an old limb that my friend vowed to return and pick up with the aid of stronger arms than I had.  This is gonna look great in my yard, she said.  (She has a good eye.)

Detail of old limb

We marveled at a budding pine cone so green and soft in its infancy.

New pine cone on branch

And then we found what we came for:  more rocks covered in greenish gray lichen to add to the framework of her curved bed garden back at the ranch.

Rock covered in lichen

Altogether — the ride, the finds, the textures and friendship — formed a memory: a perfect day in Colorado.

For more entries into the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Texture, click here.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’

One of the joys of being a grandparent:  showing off the city you love with your granddaughter who still loves wherever you take her!!!

View from the Sunsphere, Knoxville, TN

Summer in the City of Knoxville from the Sunsphere’s Observation Deck!  Our version of summer lovin’!

Want to see more of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Summer Lovin’ ?  Click here!



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Morning walk creekside: Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Creek dock, Pawleys IslandWalking the beach at Pawleys Island when the sun begins its daily push skyward is breathtaking, for sure.  (Click here for Morning beach walk: Pawleys Island.)   But a search for other routes can net stunning views, too.  Pawleys has dual beauty: beach on one side of the island and a spectacular marsh on the other.  Lucky indeed are homeowners who have access to both with a front porch facing the Atlantic and a long boardwalk leading to a creekside dock out the back.

We stay in the Birds’ Nest District where main-drag Myrtle Avenue branches into side streets leading to the ocean or the creek.  As we leave our rental house on Hazard Street for our non-beachy morning walks, we turn right onto Myrtle taking a closer look at creek docks on the left and Southern homes of the Pawleys Historic District on the right.  Our short walk ends at the Pelican Inn.

On the left: Pawleys Creek

Pawleys Creek

Early morning view of Pawleys Creek — Myrtle Street.

If we had to typify a creekside dock along Myrtle Street, we’d say it would have a long boardwalk stretching over the marsh and ending with a covered fishing dock.  Almost all docks are private, so taking pictures from the street is about the only option open to early-morning walkers.  Even so, you can catch the gentle rays of morning light casting shadows on the marsh while egrets and pelicans find resting places on posts and small fish splash out of the creek, causing heads to turn.  Oh, there’s one, we say.  And then we move on to the next dock.  The marsh teems with tiny creatures — miniature crabs and insects that skitter over mud banks and dip into holes whenever you come near.  It’s a quiet scene, for the most part.  Besides the resident waterfowl, fish, and insects, the marsh sees only the occasional families who pile onto inner tubes to “float the creek” or fishermen more intent on having a good time than putting food on the table.

Open gate, creekside, Pawleys Island

It’s tempting to walk through any open gate leading to Pawleys marsh, but most docks are private.

Long boardwalk, Pawleys Island

A long boardwalk leads to a creek dock at Pawleys Island. During the summer, marsh grass is bright green, but in August it will begin turning a soft gold.

On the right: Pawleys Historic District

Historic home, Pawleys Island

Typical of many historic homes: white clapboard siding, long porches, propped open shutters.

Pick up a brochure at the Pawleys Island Town Hall Information Center, and you’ll read about eight historic homes and the South Causeway (the oldest causeway in continuous use in SC) still remaining after numerous storms and hurricanes.  The greatest natural disaster, Hurricane Hugo in 1989, took its toll on many of the homes at Pawleys, and even today you can see houses that survived as well as new ones built to endure the next inevitable force of nature.  From the Hazard Street turnoff  on Myrtle down to the Pelican Inn , you can pass several of these grand ol’ dames.  If you pause to read the markers, you’ll learn about owners like the Robert F. W. Allston, Governor of South Carolina from 1856-58 or Robert Nesbit (1799-1848), a rice planter from Scotland.  Or the two slave cabins at the LaBruce/Lemon House.  We’d love a chance to peek inside these places — for features like hand-hewn sills and mortise-and-tenon joints in the Ward House/Liberty Lodge or the higher wooden posts placed under the Allston House after Hugo.  But even seeing them from the road, we’re time-traveling through Pawleys just by looking to our right.

Slave cabin: LaBruce/Lemon House

According to local tradition, two small dwellings on the property of the LaBruce/Lemon House were slave cabins. (Brochure: Pawleys Island Town Hall Information Center)

Pawleys Island hammock

A Pawleys Island hammock lies in wait on an open porch in the Historic District.

Ward House/Liberty Lodge

Moved here after 1858, this oldest house on Pawleys was once owned by Joshua J. Ward, Lt. Gov. of South Carolina (1850-52). Now owned by family of Cornelia C. Ehrich and named Liberty Lodge.

Pelican Inn, Pawleys Island

Built in 1858, this home for Plowden Weston, Lt. Governor of SC (1862-64) is now a B&B: the Pelican Inn.

You never know, of course, what you’ll encounter on a morning walk.  This whimsical post was a remnant of an event celebrating a wedding on the island — perhaps for the rehearsal dinner or the wedding itself.  Sort of reminds us of ideas we see on Pinterest!

Sign for wedding party

Directions for where to party at Pawleys!

And what about this site?  The cutest kids selling lemonade for charity at Liberty Lodge!!! Makes you smile, doesn’t it?  And reminds me of my mantra:  Never pass up a lemonade stand.  Never.

Selling lemonade at Liberty Lodge

Selling lemonade at Liberty Lodge

Here’s hoping you’ll find your way to Pawleys Island, South Carolina — for the beach, the creek, or the history.  Or all three. So much to see. So little time.

Pawleys Island, South Carolina

General info:  Town of Pawleys Island: http://www.townofpawleysisland.com/

What to do and see: Life in Pi: The Official Town Resource Guide for Pawleys Island, South Carolina: http://www.life-in-pi.com/

Where to stay: Pawleys Island Realty: http://www.pawleysislandrealty.com/


Other posts on Pawleys Island:

Morning beach walk: Pawleys Island, South Carolina: http://ohtheplaceswesee.com/2014/07/22/morning-beach-walk-pawleys-island-south-carolina/ 

Weekly Photo Challenge: One (about saving sea turtles): http://ohtheplaceswesee.com/2013/12/22/weekly-photo-challenge-one/

Weekly Photo Challenge:  Carefree (pics from Pawleys): http://ohtheplaceswesee.com/2013/08/17/weekly-photo-challenge-carefree/

A Word a Week Challenge: Roof (pics from our widow’s walk at Pawleys!): http://ohtheplaceswesee.com/2013/07/26/a-word-a-week-challenge-roof/

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Morning beach walk: Pawleys Island, South Carolina

Early morning, Pawleys Island

Early morning, Pawleys Island, July 2014

No matter how many years (more than 30 now), we’ve walked the beach at the South End of Pawleys Island, we never tire of the early morning spectacular.  Pawleys is our place.  Our home away from home.  Where for one week, we kick back, walk barefooted along the shore, reflect on the past year, and plan for the next one.

Walking the beach at Pawleys

Walking the beach at Pawleys

According to a sign near the causeway, Pawleys Island is the oldest seaside resort in America. With a few remaining homes built in the late 1700s, this little town about 25 miles south of Myrtle Beach has the feel of an old beachy place with a laid-back attitude.  It’s just the way it was and still is, and that’s how we like it.

Morning sun on Pawleys beach houses

Windows glow with the morning sun at Pawleys Island

Walking the beach in early morning has become a ritual.  And no two mornings are alike.  Today, the sun’s peeking through clouds.  A few people pick up shells washed ashore in the night.  Others sip coffee and watch the day unfold.

View from Widow's Walk

Early morning view from our widow’s walk at the South End of Pawleys Island

It’s just Pawleys at its best, and we count our blessings each year — the last week in July — that we can still head to our rental house and leave our cares behind.

Fences at the South End, Pawleys Island

Fences at the South End, Pawleys Island

Good morning, Pawleys Island!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers

Box of watermellons, SC

Waist-high boxes hold thumpin’ good watermelons from fields near Columbia, SC.

Good stuff doesn’t just pour in at South Carolina’s State Farmers Market in Columbia.  It ‘s hauled in — in boxes, crates, cartons, baskets, truck beds, trailers — well, you name it.  Just about anything that can contain ‘maters, melons, and mighty fine pickin’s is pressed into service to get the goods to the customers and show ‘em off at the market.  Containers, you see, form the framework for South Carolina’s finest — from field to market to home.

Truckbed of watermelons

Truckbeds form great containers for melons as they provide easy access and open viewing.

Boxes of tomatoes

Stacks and stacks of boxes contain fresh tomatoes at SC Farmers Market.

Traditional carton of okra

Fresh, tender okra in a traditional carton

Red basket of cucumbers

Container for fresh South Carolina cukes– a simple, red basket.

Basket of peaches

Luscious freestone peaches in a traditional woven wood basket

Baby in a peach basket

Peach basket does double duty containing this sweet baby visiting the farmers market for the first time!


For more entries in the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: Containers, click here.

For more information:

South Carolina State Farmers Market

3483 Charleston Highway

West Columbia, SC

Website: http://scstatefarmersmarket.com/

It’s been a great summer for us to visit farmers markets.  You may enjoy another post on one of our favorites.  Click here to read People almost trump produce at Farmers Market in Decatur, Alabama.  

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Seven fun things to do with kids in downtown Spokane

Sculpture, Spokane

The Joy of Running Together, Spokane

If you’re lucky enough to be in downtown Spokane, Washington, (to paraphrase an old saying), then you’re lucky enough.  And indeed you are.  Because if you have kids in tow, there’s more than enough to see and do — all in Riverfront Park downtown.

1.  Slide down the Red Wagon.

Who wouldn’t want to climb this 27-foot tall Radio Flyer and slide down the handle? Kids love it, but some grown-ups have been known to take the challenge, too! Designed by Ken Spiering, this Radio Flyer wagon is nine times the size of the original little one you may have owned as a kid — and way more fun.

   2.  Feed the ducks.

When you’ve had enough of the Red Wagon, go to water’s edge to feed the ducks.  Don’t be surprised if they come “atcha” all at once.  Ducks love food from kids and adults , and some of us love “honkin” back at those quackers! Be sure to take a look at the sculpture across the way and admire the bridge.  It’s just part of the prettiness of Riverfront Park. Feeding ducks -- Riverfront Park

3.  Ride the Looff Carousel.

In operation since 1909, the Looff Carousel has offered adults and kids the opportunity to ride colorfully painted horses, fierce tigers, and proud lions (oh, my), while a recording of the original Ruth & Sohn Band Organ plays in the background.  If you’re a teen or adult with long arms, try reaching out to grab the gold ring as you go by.  And maybe you’ll win a prize for that little one who wanted to ride this thing in the first place!

4.  Take pictures in City Hall Plaza

OK.  So your kid looks great today.  Having fun.  Happy and contented after a ride on the Carousel.  So what could be a better time than now to snap pics on the steps of City Hall Plaza?  Nice background, pretty flowers, lovely setting — don’t you agree? Taking pictures on City Hall Plaza

5.  Stare at the falls.  (Or be daring — ride a gondola!)

Keep walking down the steps to Huntington Park where staring at the falls is all you’ll want to do.  Get close but not too close that the spray messes with your camera lens.  If you’ve got audio to put with your video, turn it on.  You don’t want to miss the roar of the falls and the joy of being right there with the action.  Or, if you dare, take a Gondola Ride lasting about 15 minutes for only seven bucks or so.  It’s a thrill your kids will write about in their back-to-school essay, “What I Did Last Summer” — for real!!

6.  Act like a kid in The Joy of Running Together

If you come back up through City Hall Plaza and look right, you just might see The Joy of Running Together, a sculpture of 40 life-size runners by David Govedare commemorating the annual Spokane Bloomsday Run.  (Click here for a previous post.) And if you look closely, you’ll see a kid or two lining up among the runners in imitation of their swing-arm, foot-raising action.  Oh, wait a minute.  Is that an adult doing that, too?  Wait another minute.  I want in.

The Joy of Running Together

An adult mimics the form of The Joy of Running Together

7.  Get wet in the Riverfront Park Rotary Fountain!

If you’ve waited this long to get wet, you may have waited too long.  No matter how hard you try to resist, you just may have to let your kids go.  Didn’t bring a towel you say?  Well, save this treat for last and just let ‘em run dripping to the car.   Kids of all ages love toe-dipping, arm-waving, and full-fledged, body-soaking action in the Rotary Fountain!

Have fun in Spokane — either with kids or as a kid yourself.  What a great place to visit! For more information: Visit Spokane: http://www.visitspokane.com/ Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/visitspokane For more on our travels through Idaho and Washington, click on the Inland Northwest page at the top of this blog.  Thanks!

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