Sepia Saturday 280: Boys, Girls, Reverses

Scan10651For this week’s Sepia Saturday theme, the prompt image reminded me immediately of this set of photos.  While the prompt image clearly shows a group of women taking on the traditional role of men and vice versa, the images here are not clearly about mixing roles, but there appears to be some non-traditional costuming and casting going on.  It’s clearly of some sort of theatrical production, though I have no idea what exactly the play/theme was.  The two people standing on either side of the piano appear to be male even though they’re done up with cute bob haircuts (wigs maybe?) and makeup.  The three on the top of the piano are in similar overalls (one even with a tie) yet appear to be girls (note the rings on the left ring finger of all of them).  Even the boy on the piano bench in the cap may be a girl, and it’s possible that the girl with the violin may be a boy – it’s awfully hard to tell!

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There are very few cues about date/place in the photos.  The piano is a Beckwith from Chicago, and appears to be a player piano (the large sliding doors on the front are usually a dead giveaway, looks similar to the one in this video), so the photos were likely taken in the USA.  I can’t zoom in with enough detail to figure out what the music is, but if someone wants to have a go at playing it, I can provide a zoomed-in image of the music.  My best guess for date, since the clothing is costume and it’s hard to pin a date onto costumes, is somewhere around 1930, give or take 5 to 10 years.  There’s a seated figure painted up in blackface which is a sign of the times as well.  None of the children look familiar and there are no names/dates on any of the photos which are pretty dirty and in poor condition.  Basically, I have another batch of wonderful photos with no names or dates that remain an absolute mystery for the time being.  I have a hunch that these may be from Earl Powis Jr’s cousins in Chicago, perhaps via his mother, Anna Plansky.  I don’t have any other identified photos of them, and even if I did, with the makeup and clothes, it might still be difficult to figure out who’s who.



One Local Summer 2015 – Week 3


Another relatively simple plate for this week, but simple can still be delicious!  Husband is home again and took over both the shopping and cooking this week (HOORAY!).  On the plate, we have a basic salad with red wine, vinegar, and oil dressing, steamed pea shoots, a grilled pork loin marinated in red wine and vinegar and rubbed with salt and pepper, and then cheese, paired with a glass of Barn Red from Paradocx Vineyard.  The husband has taken to making his own cheese and this is his first gouda.  I WHOLLY approve of this pursuit and its results which were incredibly perfect.  The milk for the cheese even came from a local dairy farm, so it counts!

Lettuce – Jack’s Farm
Cheese – homemade with milk from Birchrun Hills
Pork Loin – Countrytime Farm
Pea Shoots – Jack’s Farm
Wine – Barn Red from Paradocx
Non Local – Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, homemade vinegar

Sepia Saturday 279: Safety, Danger, Industry


While I have plenty of photos of the coal industry for this Sepia Saturday, I thought this would be a great chance to explore a ‘cleaner’ industry through three photos of factory workers.  Two of my grandmothers (biological and step) worked in various sewing factories over the years.  Rolled up in paper tubes, I found these great panoramic photos of the factory staff – they were a little bit of a trouble to scan and piece together (three scans for each, then stitched up in photoshop), but the result is worth it!  All three were taken in the 50s and 60s at the Phillips-Jones (Van Heusen) Corp in Patton, PA.  The first one is labelled as being taken in September 1955.  In that particular photo, both grandmothers are present!  In fact, my biological grandma is about 6 months pregnant with my father at that point.  The second photo has no date but may have been taken prior to 1955, best guess, since my step-grandma looks younger in that one.  However, I had found a written work history that Romayne (Greenaway) Kitko compiled at some point in her life.  She lists having worked at the Van Heusen Co of Patton, PA from 1955-1966.  The last photo is dated September 1961 (very faintly, in white), at the same location.  It’s interesting that they took a sort of ‘class photo’ for every year at the factory.  I have to imagine that this was in part to boost employee morale by making everyone feel like they were part of a large team, and in part to show off at headquarters.

The Phillips-Jones company eventually became the Van Heusen company we know today.  Here’s a good link containing more information on the history of the company.  The factory employed many women during a time when women were just starting to go to work right after World War II.  You can see the company was still run by the men standing up front, but women were in the workplace, in a factory even.  There’s a wide age range to the women in the photos too – from young gals straight out of high school to women who look to be in their 60s and 70s.  They appear to be of differing ethnicities, but I couldn’t find a single black woman in any of the groups.  Whether that was purposeful discrimination or just the fact that the region was largely caucasian, I can’t be sure.

I found a great newspaper article detailing a little history of the plant.  It was built in 1947 and employed 250 people.  After the expansion (article dated i1954) which you can see in the third photo on the right and left of the original building, they planned to employ over 400 people, mostly women.  While the article was dated 1954, the plant either underwent another expansion after that for the 1961 photo or the second photo was on or after 1954.  The trees appear to be smaller, but not by much, so it has to be slightly earlier than the first photo, but the buildings appear the same.  I’m not sure exactly when the factory ceased operation, but another company was in the same location by 1994, so it was well before then.  You can click any of the above photos to see a larger version, but as for me, I’m working industriously towards the next Sepia Saturday.
Phillips-Jones Patton PA Pennsylvania van Heusen

One Local Summer 2015 – Week 2

After last week, I knew that I’d be going with asparagus again.  Not wanting to just grill it again, I found a recipe for bacon-wrapped asparagus.  Well, bacon-wrapped anything is delicious, so this seemed like a fantastic plan.  The result is that the plate looks a lot like the one from last week with a few changes.  What can I say, when something works, it works!  Another salad (MMM GREEENNNSS, said like a vegetarian zombie), grilled mushrooms, that bacon-wrapped asparagus, and a chunk of bison sausage.  Finished off with a cool glass of water to end a yucky hot and humid day, and it was a great, easy, meal all cooked on the grill.

Mixed Greens – Charlestown Farm
Red Leaf Lettuce – Charlestown Farm
Pea Shoots – Jack’s Farm
Bison Country Sausage – Backyard Bison
Mushrooms – Oley Valley Mushrooms
Asparagus – Hill Creek Farm
Bacon – Countrytime Farm
Cheese – Birchrun Hills (honey and sea salt cheese spread)
Non Local – Olive Oil, dressing

Knitted Baby Gifts, Part 1

Apparently everyone is pregnant and due this summer.  There must be something in the water, and just in case there is,  I think I’ll stick with beer!  The great thing about this, aside from excited new parents welcoming a baby into the world, is that this gives me the chance to knit sweet little baby gifts for my friends which is a ton of fun.  Baby-sized sweaters have basically the same construction as adult-sized items but use less yarn and knit up much faster, so it’s pretty close to instant satisfaction.  There’s also something about a handmade gift that’s really special for folks who appreciate the work that goes into them.  This is the first round of gifts which have already been given to the recipient, so I figure I’m okay to blog about them and won’t spoil any surprises.

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Pattern: Tilting Blocks Baby Blanket
Designer: Ranee Mueller
Needles: US 4 (3.5 mm)
Yarn: Lion Brand Cotton Ease in, “Maize”
Ravelry Project Link
It’s a really simple stitch pattern and works up so quickly.  The original pattern had a square of stockinette in the center, but I opted to just do the whole blanket in pattern.  I used just about three whole skeins of yarn which is a basic cotton/acrylic blend which makes it great for use for baby knits.  Durable, washes well, still pretty soft.  It stretched out MUCH larger than anticipated since it’s lace, but it really looks great and will make a wonderful summer blanket for a summer baby.  Plus, the parents have opted not to know the gender of their child, so yellow is a nice, neutral color.

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Pattern: Sunnyside
Designer: Tanis Lavallee
Needles: US 4 (5 mm)
Yarn: Kangaroo Dyer Franklin Hand Dyed in, “Fried Green Tomatoes”
Ravelry Project Link
Knit in under a week!  Super fast knit and I didn’t even use a whole skein of sock yarn.  I made a small modification and flipped the cables on one side of the cardigan so they’d mirror the otherside (right twist instead of left twist).  The size I knit was 6-12 month, but it came out at more like a newborn-6 month size.  Next time, I’ll have to go up a size.  Still, a really cute and easy cardigan to knit!  I definitely prefer knitting baby items in fingering weight yarn instead of worsted or DK – babies are so small that a bulky sweater just doesn’t work out, and for a summer baby, a lighter cardigan is defintiely best.