Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Friday, July 8, 2011

This is the guitar I learned to play on, a Gibson LGO

The neck rivals anything Gibson ever put out.

This was also the least expensive model Gibson ever put out, and they apparently put out thousands and thousands of them.  Mine is a 1955, all mahogany, LGO with modifications I made when I was a teenager.  Full of cracks.  A quiet guitar.

I got my LGO from my dad, and through him my dad's mother, Bess.  I was born the year that guitar was made, 1955.

My grandmother was a conservative white woman who once voted for George Wallace, ostensibly to piss off my dad.  Whose family was from north Florida/south Alabama, newly prosperous in the 1920s--and they claimed to detest Negroes.  

Bess used to take us for lunch to her favorite luncheon counter, in a department store in Pensacola.  I remember seeing an old Negro playing accordion on the sidewalk, with a hat and coal-black sunglasses on, and a tin cup attached to his accordion.  Grandmommy griped--and not under her breath, but so everyone could hear--that there were too many Negroes allowed to walk around downtown. 

Grandma Bess's daddy, "Irish Buck" Turner, hired plenty of Negroes at his turpentine mill in south Alabama.  My dad visited it once, he told me later.  Story is, Buck actually did time for killing a Negro who worked for him, but I find it hard to believe that a Florida court would jail a white man for the murder of a Negro, in those days.

Grandmommy bought the guitar at a big old music store in Pensacola (I visited it once, years later), and gave it to my dad when I was born as a dig for becoming a bearded, liberal, college professor--a beatnik.  He really wasn't. 

When I learned four chords on the guitar by the time I was 13, so Dad gave it to me, since he'd only learned three. 

I still have it.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Punch v. Judy

John Styles (of London, England), a scholar and performer of the traditional Punch and Judy puppet show, at the National Folk Festival in Chattanooga, 10/09/1993.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Steppers at the National Folk Festival in Chattanooga, 1993.

I am trying to identify this group, from a performance at the National Folk Festival in 1993 in Chattanooga.  Video by Philip Luckey.

Jerry Brown, Potter

National Heritage Fellow, Jerry Brown of Hamilton, Alabama, at the 55th National Folk Festival in Chattanooga, 1993.  Video by Philip Luckey.

Friday, June 17, 2011


The old man, posted on father's day, or thereabout.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Big Joe Dossett and the Mighty Coachmen

Big Joe Dossett and the Mighty Coachmen of Chattanooga, Tennessee


Ninth Street Revival

This photo was taken by Reggie Day, no relation.  Reggie was on the Artist Roster for school programs at Allied Arts, where I worked when we produced this series of events in Chattanooga in the early 1990s.

Monday, March 28, 2011

American crow folklore and folklife

(not my photo)
I've been watching the play behavior of "gang" of young adult crows in my back yard.

At first I took it for aggressive behavior, that the crows were establishing status within the group, or vis a vis a potential mate.

The next time I saw them I realized that I'd watched these crows' parents doing the same flight maneuvers to harrass a large broadwing hawk ("my hawk" a few weeks ago, the one who shat on me.)

The young hawks were playing, like most young animals do.  And, in playing, building a repertory of complex maneuvers with substantial survival benefit.. 

But what has been written by scholars about crow behavior?  Not much, it turns out.  (I am aware of human folklore about crows, but know nothing about the crow's repertory of behaviors, their adaptability, reported proto-language capability, even tool-making and use.)

Check this article out, though, a profile of one of the few animal behaviorists who do study crows in a methodologically sound, scientific way.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mid-spring in the Valley, 2001

The lady of the house where we used to buy organic eggs, poultry and meat allowed me to take a picture of the family's aprons out to dry on one warm, breezy afternoon.  The Yoders were (they've moved since, and another family of Brethren has taken over the farm) Beechy Amish Mennonites, one family of a community of Anabaptists around Stuart's Draft, Virginia.  The Stuart's Draft Beechy Amish have ties with the Cold Springs, South Carolina community I worked with around the same time.  I have more documentary photos of the that community.

Michael Bradley Jeter

From south carolina fieldwork photos
This is a striking roadside memorial near Newberry, South Carolina in 1988.  I photographed the angel during folklife fieldwork I was then doing in the "Up Country" for the South Carolina Arts Commission.  From what I can tell, from, frankly, not a whole lot of research, Jeter was a local athlete who was killed in a car accident some years earlier.  (There is a memorial fund set up in his name at Westview Behavioral Services in Newberry.)  

SC 001

Friday, March 18, 2011

October the 30th, 1800

Another letter in my family's hidden trove: this from my great-great-great-great-grandfather John Guthrie in 1800 to his father-in-law, Bethaniah Hodgkinson of Burlington, New Jersey. Hodgkinson's father, my fifth-great-grandfather, was a clergyman from Dublin, Ireland named Peter Amis Hodgkinson.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Douglas and Hodgkinson ("First to these shores")

The Douglases are one "Irish" branch of the family, though I'm pretty sure they were Ulster Scots, possibly United Irish who fled after the failed Uprising of 1788.

Jacob Davies Douglas was born the same year as the Battle of Vinegar Hill. His father and grandfather were Prsebyterian clergy from He married Lucretia's sister

At least I'd like to think they were United Irish. The UI were the Good Guys in that insurrection, at least in that they were Protestants and Catholics united against British rule; enamored of Thomas Jefferson, they fashioned themselves Republicans. Most United Irish refugees settled in northern cities like New York, Boston and Philadelphia, and had a huge impact on politics wherever they settled.

And, of course, several United Irish families settled in Virginia, in Albemarle County, near Mr. Jefferson and other prominent Republican Revolutionaries.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Warrenton May 22, 1861

This is one of the letters I found in my father's garage a few weeks after he shot himself.  (In two boxes of letters, records, photographs, and genealogies of several branches of the family, assembled in the 1910s by a maiden great-aunt Annie Granger Day.)  This is the letter by which I discovered that my great-great-grandfather was a Yankee.

The letter is to Dr. Douglas Day of Zanesville, Ohio from his younger sister Jennie, of Warrenton, Virginia.

I have broken the text into paragraphs not in the original, for ease of reading:

                      Warrenton May 22, 1861
My Dear Brother___

                                    We were surprised and grieved to see by a paper which (sic) was received yesterday from John Douglas, the announcement of your appointment as surgeon in one of the Ohio regiments. ____

It cannot be that you are leagued (sic) with those miserable abolitionists who thirst for our blood & will never be satisfied unless they obtain it.  You cannot willingly resign your native state __ the land that gave you birth & take up arms with as merciless a foe against us. 

I know your situation is a trying one, but do you not think it best to come home & try for an appointment in the Southern Army.

The southerners are so exasperated with the treatment they have received from the North, that I think it almost impossible that any good feeling can exist between them. 

When do you think (?) and I could come.  I want to se Annie so much __ I will send her a little flag & you must put it on a little staff for her.  I would do it myself, but am afraid those vigilant “Lincolnites” might examine the contents of my letter.  Tell her it is the flag under which she must march. 

Warrenton is full of strangers; persons who have run away from Washington & Alexandria have taken refuge here.  Troops are constantly passing through, & companies are stationed here.

The people are all alive & are ready for action; if blood the Yankees must have, they will have to pay dearly for it. 

Henry has been in the regular service six weeks__Alec is very anxious to join Cap’t. (Man, Marr’s ?) company, but Ma thinks he is rather young. 

I cannot believe that report is correct that you intend to go in opposition to the wishes of your dearest friends, & fight hand in hand with your brothers.  There is an alternative.  You must choose one thing or the other.  If you have joined the Northern Army you will never be able to come here again with any satisfaction.  You will be our enemy ___ Why could you not remain neutral until Jennie is able to travel& then leave Ohio forever __

Write and give us a correct account, if the information about your acceptance of the appointment is incorrect.  I would like to write more, but it is time for the mail to close.

With the hope of soon hearing from you I remain as ever,
                                    Your devoted sister,

God grant that you may chose the right side, which is ours, & (she must?) prevail.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Great-great-aunt Betty

This is my great-great-grandmother Virginia Turner's far prettier little sister Betty, who married Robert Granger. The Grangers were Douglas and Virginia's closest friends in Zanesville, Ohio.

The Day's eldest daughter, born in Zanesville, was named Annie Granger Day. She seems to be the one who gathered all this stuff together and did a genealogy around the turn of the 20th century. I found all the letters and photos in a box in my dad's garage after his suicide.

Douglas courted and married Virginia in Zanesville in the 1850s. The Turners, originally from Fauquier County, Virginia, had moved to Zanesville in the '40s. Virginia's father, also a doctor, had a practice there. I have the lectures he gave at the University of Pennsylvania. Apparently, Douglas studied under him; though his degree is from U. Va., he earned additional certificates from Penn.

Granger became a general in the Union army.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Spring is coming soon.

I took this picture in 2001, while working part-time as the Ag Section reporter for the local newspaper, the News Virginian. I learnt Photoshop and scanning from film negatives there. Also had a helluva good time getting to know all the local farmers and families. The standing joke was what kind of animal shit I would have on my boots when I came in to write my pieces. At least I could get away with wearing jeans and boots, long as I wore a tie. I later worked courts and police beats. Also very interesting, but I had to dress nicer.

Spring is coming soon.

Lucretia Guthrie Day

This is a photograph of my great-great-great-grandmother, Lucretia Guthrie Day.

Lucretia lost a son, Alexander, in the war. He was the baby of the family, and everybody'd always made over him.

At age 18 he died, as a soldier in the Confederacy, during the siege of Richmond. Lucretia never recovered from her grief.

Her older sons, Henry and Douglas, had both learned to be doctors at the University of Virginia. I've seen where their rooms were on campus. My dad showed me, some 35 or 50 years ago.

Henry was an officer's surgeon for the Army of Virginia.

My great-great-grandfather Douglas held the same commission, but for the Ohio 22nd, of the Union Army.

That part hurt Lucretia, too.