Saturday, September 09, 2006

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse III: Grandma's Platter

The signs of the zodiac were set into the inner brass ring of this platter. It previously hung on the wall over the big red wing chair in the front room of my grandmother's house, but now it greets visitors to the O-family Ancestral Manse.

(Our family's ancestral hearth would more properly be in Door County, but as my mother now lives in central Wisconsin and it's closer and easier to get to I look there for Old Home.)

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse II: Great-Granpa Melchoir's Fiddle

I've never heard this fiddle played; I don't think it could be. Several strings appear to be missing, but at one time one of my great-granpas was known far and wide as a fiddle player who could be counted upon to deliver memorable music at a wedding dance.

In those days musicians took their pay in kind. After one performance great-granpa made his way to the house where he was supposed to be put up for the night. Finding nobody awake he let himself in and, rather than disturb the occupants he removed his shoes and tiptoed upstairs through the dark, feeling his way along the hall until he found an unoccupied room upstairs.

The floor felt odd beneath his stocking feet but he was too tired and pleasantly drunk to care. Flopping into bed he slept soundly until the next morning when he made his way down the hall toward the kitchen ... to find his footprints now firmly set in the fresh lacquer on the floor.

To add another complication to the poor man's situation, a quick look around made him realize he was in the wrong house.

He slipped out the back door and down the road undetected, and so far as I know the people in the house never found out who slept in their extra bed or left his tracks in their hallway.

Scenes from the Ancestral Manse I: Dad's Accordion

For years I assumed this old Horner accordion, which previously sat on display in my grandmother's home, was nothing more than a decorative item until one day when my Dad picked it up and cranked out three or four old-time tavern polkas and waltzes. Before that, I hadn't been aware that he had a musical bone in his body. People surprise you when you least expect it, doubly so your parents.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Lucky Star

Grafitti sprayed over the memorial to Elizabeth Link.

Elizabeth Link and her husband, Karl, were both very active pacifists, if that isn't an oxymoron, during the height of the Cold War.

Karl was faculty advisor at the UW for the student group American Youth for Democracy, and Elizabeth worked for Women's International League for Peace.

The park is on State Street, about halfway between the capitol and the university.

Sticker Schlock

I went to see the movie The War Tapes in a theater with a temporary stage that suggested it was also a part-time venue for garage bands.

On the way out I noticed these two stickers slapped on the exposed concrete ceiling, much too far out of reach to be worth the trouble to remove.

All I could find on Things Fall Apart was that they say their music falls in the genres of Middle Eastern, Top 40 and Traditional Folk. I imagine the Beatles during their sitar phase.

The Selfish Gene plays "original music that combines a mixture of rock, folk & psychedelia to share stories of the individual, society and universe." Hippies. Far out.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Window of J.Taylor's on Carroll St

Taylor's window has been a jumble these past couple weeks.

Okay, it's always been a jumble, but lately more so than before.

Mr. Taylor has recently posted signs promising that the store is undergoing a re-design and will open next week.

Friday On State Street

Looking up State Street from the corner of the Overture Center.

I'm standing on the 200 block, as the sign indicates, but that's the 100 block we're looking at.

On the right, under the red awning, a store that used to sell games such as Magic but is now nothing more than a front for a pair of cash machines.

Further up this side of the street, a clothing store in the old coal company building, two or three restaurant/bars that seem to be quite popular come lunch time, and at the far end stands Teddywedger's in what is claimed to be the oldest building still standing on Capital Square.