The handwriting issue

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Rotunda dome, Texas State Capitol, Austin Texas

The handwriting debate (cursive vs printing and legible vs illegible) is nothing new.  It’s been going on since the caveman started drawing on walls.  Mothers have moaned over children’s handwriting and complained about the new methods for a long time!

So, on a recent visit to the Texas State Capitol I had to laugh as I was reading a display about the Secretary of State’s office in the Capitol and the duties of the Secretary of State which include overseeing state elections. A timeline entry for 1946-47 states:

The Secretary of  State’s annual report noted that elections are “recorded in longhand, which is a tedious job, and few are qualified to write so that it can be read”.

Before and After

I love before and after pictures; I can spend hours looking at them and analyzing the differences. Today I had my own experience with before and after.  Due to recent rains the underground aquifer that San Antonio relies on for water has risen above the very low levels that have plagued it for many years.  I knew the aquifer was up, but didn’t realize how much until I saw a news item that the Blue Hole had water in it.  Time to grab the camera and head out!

In case you’re wondering the Blue Hole  is where the headwaters of the San Antonio River originally bubbled up from the earth. Drilling of artesian wells in the late 1800’s diminished the spring’s flow until it eventually stopped.  Now it only flows when the aquifer reaches a higher level. The San Antonio River is a human controlled body of water ensuring an even flow of water into the downtown area and, more importantly, as a means of flood control.

Here’s the before:

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2013

And the after:

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2016

The once dry river bed is now a noisy rush of water, too.

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2013
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2016

I didn’t think I would ever see water in the Blue Hole, but today I did.  Pure, clean water right out of the aquifer.

Patti Welder Middle School

After we finished with a dog show in Victoria, Texas a few weeks ago Bentley and I headed out to do some exploring.  I honestly think he knows the word “explore” because after we got in the car to leave the show I looked at him and said, “let’s go exploring” he perked up and looked at me with a “let’s go” look!  He loves to explore and will follow along with me very happily, plus he doesn’t mind stopping to look at something.

So what did we find? Many things worth sharing here!  Go to Doorway Into the Past to read about Patti Welder Middle School.

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Southern Traction Company

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The Southern Traction Company provided interurban transportation between Corsicana and Dallas from 1912 to 1941. Its sister company, the Texas Traction Company, provided service between Dallas, Denton, and Waco; in 1917 they would merge to form the Texas Electric Railway. The interurban trains would stop to pick up passengers when flagged down and offered affordable and more frequent service than the steam rail lines.

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Car number 305 was one of 22 passenger cars that ran on this line. Travelers were offered a choice of a smoking or non-smoking section, one toilet, and a water fountain.  After 1932 there was no conductor and cars were configured for pay-as-you-go commuters. Just to note that there were 2 seats on either side of the narrow aisle where travelers were squeezed together much like passengers on an airplane today!

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The Visitor Center didn’t open until later in the morning on the day I was visiting, but I looked through the windows and they had a nice display of memorabilia and informational resources.  I’ll stop in on my next visit.

Between 2 buildings

IMG_0612_edited-1.jpgDowntown Pocket Park sits quietly between 2 buildings in historic downtown Corsicana. I noticed this space from across the street, but didn’t realize what it was until I was closer.  It wasn’t just an empty space between 2 buildings, it was a little park!

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Corsicana’s Art in Public Places committee selected this space to be its first project.  What a delightful space they created.  A bubbling fountain and ample seating spaces make it the perfect place to step into and sit peacefully for a few minutes.

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I’m not sure what was originally in this space.  From the street there was a tile entrance that advertised “Virginia Dare For those who care”. Virginia Dare is a long-time producer of vanilla extracts and other flavorings, so it is hard to determine what kind of business was here.  Perhaps a soda fountain?

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Downtown Pocket Park is available to rent for private functions and has public restrooms.

The Goddess and the Lady

What do the Goddess of Liberty and Lady Justice have in common other than they each overlook their respective kingdoms?  Well, they share many common things with one exception. Let me introduce you to these two lovely ladies.

The Goddess of Liberty sits high atop the Texas State Capitol surveying the busy city of Austin while inside the Capitol every 2 years the legislature oversees the government of the state.  Designed by architect Elijah E. Myers in 1881 and placed on the Capitol dome in 1888 the Goddess was constructed of zinc, cast in 4 parts, hoisted to the dome and assembled with large screws, and took her place standing tall at her height of 16 feet.

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The Goddess received a coat of white paint in 1915 and then several years later was given black hair, pink skin and a blue robe by an unidentified painter.  In 1939, fortunately she was restored to her all white color scheme and has remained as such ever since.

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Lady Justice sits atop the pediment of the Navarro County Courthouse and surveys the city of Corsicana.  She was probably put in place when the Courthouse was constructed in 1905 and remained there until 1941 when County Commissioners agreed that she needed to be painted and restored. She was removed, but never heard from again.  Her whereabouts remain unknown even today despite much searching.

The Goddess had a little happier experience, thus the difference in the stories of the two statues. In 1983 it was determined that time and the elements had taken their toll on her, so in 1985 she was removed by a Texas National Guard helicopter and lowered onto the lawn for a while until she was whisked away for some much needed attention.  However, she would not be returning to the top of the dome.  After restoration she is now on display in the Bullock State History Museum near the Capitol.  She is however, somewhat disjointed as her hand and star were not restored and are displayed at the Capitol Museum.  Interestingly, it was discovered in 1994 that the star was actually a time capsule!

The Goddess’ accurate replacement was cast of a high-strength, corrosion-resistant aluminum alloy that was donated by Aluminum Company of America. She still stands 16 feet tall, but the replica Goddess weighs about 9,000 pounds less due the use of the lighter material. She did encounter a bit of a problem in reaching her resting place due to high winds and the limited vision of the pilot in the Chinook helicopter.  The Mississippi National Guard brought over one of their CH-54A “skycrane” helicopters on June 14, 1986. This time the flag draped Goddess was dropped right in place and secured by the waiting crew. A large crowd of spectators reacted with much cheering!  click here to watch the video of the Goddess being lowered to the Capitol

But poor Lady Justice! Residents of Navarro County felt that something was missing without the Lady gracing the pediment. When the current Courthouse restoration began the Lady was included in the plans.  Heather and Little worked along with the Texas Historical Commission and ARCHITEXAS to carefully replicate the Lady.  They relied on old photographs and similar statues to produce the copper statue that was reinstalled in June 2015. click here to visit Heather & Little’s web site, scroll down to watch the video of the re-installation and see close up photographs.

Today both replicas grace their respective buildings, stern faced with their solemn task. When I recently visited both sites I had no idea of the interesting stories behind the statues so I didn’t bother to make specific pictures.  On future visits I will definitely be zooming in!

 

 

Vagabond Week

IMG_0551.JPGAfter a week of wandering around, looking at this and that, impulsively travelling here and there, and immensely enjoying myself I have returned home.  It has been a good week, and truthfully, I would like for it to have continued. I had good intentions of doing daily reports like I usually do when I travel, but this time in keeping with the spirit of freedom I did not return to the hotel room each night with thoughts of writing.  Later, I told myself.

My first stop was in Corsicana, Texas.  I’ve travelled through Corsicana for many years and always thought it would be a good place to stop and explore.  This was the trip to do so.  I found a delightful little town that is trying to revitalize itself.  It is less that 60 miles from Dallas and I had the thought that it could be what Fredericksburg is to San Antonio if they market themselves right.

When I pulled into town it was about an hour before dark and knowing the light was ideal for pictures I started on a fast tour (not knowing that the camera wasn’t really focusing as I mentioned before).IMG_0548.JPG

The twin onion domes of this church had called out to me every time I went through Corsicana; I had to know what it was.  I was surprised to find that it is a Jewish temple. The first Jewish settlers came to Corsicana with the railroad in 1871. The congregation of Temple Beth-El was formed in 1898 by a group of Reformed Jews; in 1900 they built this temple. From what I quickly found they now only have services once a month, performed by a travelling Rabbi. Such a different, unique building!

The First Baptist Church, First Methodist Church, and St. John’s Episcopal also captured my attention.  But it was the Navarro County Courthouse I wanted to see in the evening light; it is under renovation, much to my delight!

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This Beaux Arts Classical Revival style building was completed in 1905.  The renovations were scheduled to be completed in January, but it appears that they are still working on completely restoring the interior to its original appearance. (More to come on Doorway Into the Past).

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I have to wonder what is inside this top floor – I just love these details!

 

Picnic in the park

Somethings just never change, thankfully.  The simple pleasures that delighted our grandparents and those even before them still delight us today.

On a recent visit to the Texas State Capitol I discovered that one of the plaques on the grounds shared that a small lake had once existed in that spot.

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“In December 1906, the Austin Daily Statesman described the Capitol grounds as, “…a favorite resort, for young and old, at all seasons, and during the summer months are the scene of nightly concerts that attract the music lovers of the city.” A small lake occupied the large depression that still exists west of here, at one time supplied by an underground spring in the area.  The lake was difficult to maintain and produced hordes of mosquitos. As then State Gardener J.A. Lott explained, “…it was not built right and every rain filled it with mud and trash…the pool in fair weather was unsightly with an accumulation of trash,” so the lake was drained by 1926.” Copied from the plaque on the west side of the Capitol, facing Colorado Street.

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The depression where the lake was located is hard to see today, but it is there.  And, amazingly there are still groups of people picnicking on the Capitol grounds, enjoying themselves even today.  What is it about a picnic in a beautiful spot?  That has to be one of the simple little things of life!