Sepia Saturday – Carrying Bricks

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

I’ll start here.

Granted, it says blocks, not bricks, but let’s not be picky. I don’t know who Sherrely (?) is, but here she is carrying a cement block.

Next …

My grandfather unloading blocks from the back of a pickup truck.

I believe I have successfully matched the theme. I could stop here, but I’ll try to piece together a stack of photos from this time and place.

The photographs above were developed in September 1956. The “set” spans August 1956 – February 1957. The location is the junction of highways 63 and 149 in southeastern Iowa. The subject is the construction of a new and improved truck stop owned and operated by my grandparents, Charles and Abbie Smith. My grandmother did a fair job of documenting the event in photographs and I appreciate her effort. She left a few notes, but I wish there were more.

I’ve written about my grandparents’ truck stop and home a couple of times before, all responses to Sepia Saturday prompts, of course!
Charles’ and Abbie’s Place
One Moment Please
Signs of the Times

This is what the place looked like in 1950.

There had been some remodeling prior to 1956, but this project involved tearing down the old building and replacing it with a new one. They constructed the new building adjacent to the old one and continued to live and work in the old one as long as they could.

A photo dated August 17 shows what I suppose is the frame for the foundation.

And one dated August 19 shows me playing in sand that now filled the frame.

I spent lots of Saturdays with my dad(Jerry) and grandparents at the Hedrick Y, so I show up in several photos and can only speculate about how valuable my contributions were. There are a few other photos from August that depict life inside the truck stop.

My cousins and me drinking orange juice at the lunch counter.

And me, shining my grandmother’s shoes.

A little peek into the living quarters.

And my cousin nursing her “sick” mother. She did become a nurse, by the way.

Grandma Abbie wrote on the back of some photos, so from here on, I’ll use her words as captions when I can.

Sherely Hammond and
Ward Rhodes truck
load of sand

How did that tractor get in there? Did Great Uncle Norman come up with the plan?

Norman troubling

A makeshift ramp

Lewis Jacobs

Made it!

Another load of sand

I believe cement came next.

Loyd Burgas
hauling cement

This looks like my dad(Jerry) kneeling in front, my grandfather bending over, and possibly Sherely Hammond (identified in other photos) on the right. I don’t know who the man on the left is.

working with cement

One more photo from the “September” batch.

October found me hard at work.

too much work for such a small gal

My grandmother typed up a couple of notes about the progress in October.

Let’s see if I can match any photos to her notes.

Around Oct. 4th. “They finished the walls except above the windows.

Wall with windows and door frame

” Oct. 5th Charles fell from a platform on the north side of the bldg. Norman pulled nails all day.” There is no photograph of my grandfather having fallen from a platform, but there are a couple of pictures that look rather precarious. I don’t know which is the north side.

Someone on the roof. It could be my grandfather.

This doesn’t look very safe.

“Oct. 8th was the last of the blocks that was set.”  No photograph seems to depict the last block being set, but several show continued progress on the new building.

Wait. Maybe I set the last block?

“Lucy and Mary and I carried all the things from upstairs. Kathy Raye came out and asked what was wrong with the upstairs and I took her up to see.” I don’t find a photo of the upstairs or their belongings outside, except for the phone.

“From there on until the 10th they tore down on the old bldg.”

“The 10th they started on the new roof.”

“Norman still tearing on the old house. Kathy R. and Judy picked up nails. Charles, Gerald working on the new bldg.”

I have vague memories of hanging out during all of this. My only relatively clear memory is of picking up nails. I think I used some kind of magnet-on-a-stick tool. The nails went in the box.

“That night Hammonds came and we really moved out the old bldg. into the new.

Abbie’s notes continued on a second card.

I don’t know if this note comes before or after the previous one, but I’ll guess after – even though it seems like there were some windows in, but not the door. Looks like Uncle Norman just inside the doorway. The building on the left is my dad’s motorcycle business. It says “Indian Sales” on the front.

Hopefully they weren’t trying to sleep here with all that lumber to trip over – although I imagine it would deter thieves. And I’d like to acknowledge that it can be pretty chilly at night in Iowa in October.

I’m sure my grandparents needed to be frugal and reuse as much as possible. Some of those nails Norman pulled and I collected were probably reused. And this door, yet to be installed, is from the old building.

My birthday fell in the middle of October when all of this moving out and tearing down was happening, yet there are pictures of us celebrating in the house. Maybe we celebrated early?

These might be pictures of the house being torn down. Although some of them were printed in January, my grandmother wrote October 29 on the back.

It looks like Grandma didn’t take any more film to be developed until January and February. Things were finished by then on the outside

And the inside

Ethel or Lucy? (When I was little I thought it was funny that one type of gas was Ethyl.)

Taking a break.

This photo appeared in the Oskaloosa Daily Herald on 30 Jan 1957.

I called my Dad today to try to fill in some gaps, but he will be 91 in two days and just doesn’t remember the details any more. I did get a little background information from him though.

Charles and Abbie had been farming for years. Prior to moving to the Hedrick Y, they were farming in north central Iowa, near the town of Clarion. Tenant farming might be the best description of their situation. They rented the land and farmed it. When they sold their product, 50% of the value of the crop went to the landowner. My grandfather owned his farm equipment.

In 1946, my grandparents sold their farm equipment and took out a loan from a bank in Richland, Iowa to purchase the land and business at the Hedrick Y in southeastern Iowa. Not long after my Dad graduated from high school that year (he stayed in Clarion to finish out the school year), he rode his motorcycle to California to visit his grandmother. While he was away, he says there was a fire that destroyed the building. He doesn’t know anything else about it since he wasn’t there. Pictures show the 1956 building looked much like the original, but with some modifications. Perhaps the damage was not that extensive and they were able to remodel rather than rebuild after the fire.

Dad recognized the names my grandmother noted on the pictures – neighbors from nearby farms and the town of Fremont. The Hammond sisters, he said, stayed with my grandparents for a month when their parents went to California and they never forgot it. He assumes that is why they were around helping so much.

There are more pictures of the Hedrick Y and I have many fond memories of time spent there, but those are for another day as this has gone on nearly as long as a construction project.

Please visit other Sepia Saturday participants and see what they have built around the theme.

Family Recipe Friday: Our Semi-Vegan Thanksgiving 2018

I try to get a handle on Thanksgiving prep so the day of isn’t too bad. I did pretty well this year, although it still wore me out. So today – blogging and laundry. No cooking!

In 2012, I shared a Thanksgiving menu that was my attempt to make everyone happy – vegan and non-vegan alike. I’ve pretty much stuck to this menu since, with the occasional tweaks or attempts at new recipes.

One Thanksgiving, my husband was on an elimination diet and one of the things on the list was gluten. Thankfully, he can tolerate a little gluten in his diet, so I don’t have to be so strict now. It gets so complicated when you want the foods you look forward to on Thanksgiving, but need to make so many changes to the recipes and remember who can eat what!

Here is the original post: Our Semi-Vegan Thanksgiving.

Here’s the 2018 menu:

1. Turkey – It is still a semi-vegan Thanksgiving.

2. Cornbread Dressing

I still use this recipe for the dressing, without the eggs and substituting vegetable broth for chicken broth. I aim for about 12 cups of bread crumbs and fill a 9×13.

In 2012 I used French bread only – no cornbread because I didn’t have a vegan cornbread recipe. I do now. I like this cornbread and often make it instead of my usual cornbread recipe that has eggs and milk. I found it on

Changes I make to this cornbread recipe:
1. It makes a very sweet cornbread, so I usually decrease the sugar to about 4T.
2. If I want to make it gluten-free:
* substitute spelt flour for all-purpose flour, or
* substitute half spelt flour and half quinoa flour for the all-purpose flour

3. Mashed Potatoes. I asked my daughter if I should make the mashed potatoes with soy milk and vegan butter substitute, or olive oil (like the mashed potatoes in the 2012 post) and she preferred soy milk. So I just made them the way I normally would if I were using milk and butter. No recipe.

4. Portobello Mushroom Gravy – same as in 2012 post. I made two batches.

5. Sweet Potato Casserole. I didn’t include the sweet potato recipe I usually use in my 2012 post – I guess because I didn’t use it that year. The cornbread recipe above and the sweet potato casserole recipe below were shared by fellow ESL teachers when we prepared a Thanksgiving feast for our students one year.

Changes I make to the sweet potato recipe:
* I usually decrease the sugar that is mixed with the potatoes by at least 1/4 cup.
* No eggs.
* Use vegan butter substitute

6. This year I did not make cranberry sauce. I wanted the jello salad my mom used to make.

Changes to cranberry salad:
* I don’t think they make black raspberry jello anymore, so I used raspberry.
* This will fill a 9×13 dish, so next time I’ll halve it.

7. Roasted vegetables. This year it was onion, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, red pepper, and asparagus – whatever my husband picked up at the store. Isn’t it great that we have “discovered” roasting veggies?

8. Honey-Kissed Carrots – same as in 2012

9. Yellow Squash Casserole – same as in 2012. I make no changes (except I never bother with the pimento) because I like it just as it is. Not vegan.

10. Pumpkin Pie – I just use the recipe on the can, but I increased the spices after reading an article in the paper about how it would be better with more spice. I increased the cinnamon to 1 1/2 teaspoons and the ginger to 1 teaspoon.

11. This year I tried a recipe for vegan pecan pie that I saw in the recent AARP magazine.
My husband had trouble finding the necessary ingredients at Whole Foods and ordered what I needed before he even got home from the store. They arrived on Wednesday – just in time for pie baking!

Here is the pie recipe –

My notes:
* Coconut oil is solid at room temperature and does not incorporate when you mix it with syrup. I could see that this would be a problem, but the recipe didn’t say to melt it. I finally added one tablespoon to see if I could mash it and stir it enough to blend in. You can see how well that worked. So, I melted the 2nd tablespoon and, of course, it blended right in. It wasn’t enough temperature change to melt what was already in there, but there is so much solid pecan mixture that I decided it wouldn’t be a problem.

* I wish I had known to bake the pie on a cookie sheet because I ended up with baked syrup on the bottom of my oven. Also the syrupy filling seeped under the crust, so it was hard to get out of the pie plate to serve.

* This was my first time to make a pecan pie. It is not something my mom made and I wasn’t introduced to it until we lived in Texas. This pie didn’t seem quite as sweet aa a traditional pecan pie, although it is certainly sweet! All in all, we liked it and I’ll probably make it again next year.
Before baking and after

We had one more delicious dessert – a cream pie with fruit (I don’t know the name) that Stella brought for the Sicilian contribution to our Thanksgiving meal.

People went back for seconds and took leftovers home with them, so I count the meal as a success.

Stay thankful!

Sepia Saturday – Back To Me

Sepia Saturday provides bloggers with an opportunity to share their history through the medium of photographs. Historical photographs of any age or kind become the launchpad for explorations of family history, local history and social history in fact or fiction, poetry or prose, words or further images. If you want to play along, sign up to the link, try to visit as many of the other participants as possible, and have fun.

When I first looked at the prompt photo, I was so focussed on it being a picture of the back of a statue that I completely missed the people facing forward. That being the case, it reminded me of some photos I have taken of backs.

Oh my gosh! I thought I was a week ahead with this post and instead I’m a week behind. Guess what else I didn’t notice about the prompt photo until just this minute when I went back to edit this again for the 10th time – THE DATE!!! Oh well. I’ve spent time on this, so out it goes!

I have been plagued by plantar fasciitis for several months, but I used to walk regularly. I mostly followed the same route around the neighborhood, which can get pretty boring, so I started looking for something to take a picture of on each walk. Sometimes a theme would emerge and I would take a series of pictures with my phone and post them on Facebook when I got home because I knew my friends wanted to see them! 😉

One day I was almost home and noticed that a house not far from mine had a little statue of a pig in the front yard, but the pig faced the house and not the street. It’s back was to me. So, on my walk the next day, I looked for objects facing away from me and I would end with the pig.

I mostly found seating.

There was another backward facing little animal in another yard, but my photo was blurry. I get nervous that someone will think I am doing something nefarious, so I quickly take a shot and hurry off. And I don’t want to get on someone’s lawn either. This is not a recipe for good photos.

Just as I approached the house with the pig, the owner drove up and parked in the driveway. I really wanted the picture, but I knew I would have to explain myself. I told the woman that I entertain myself while walking by taking photos of things I notice along the way and that I wanted to take a picture of her pig because the day’s theme was things with their back to me. She said, “Oh here you go!” and she turned her back to me so I could take a picture of her back along with her pig. What a good sport!

In case that’s not enough backs for you, I looked for more!

Here is one I took at a stoplight one Easter weekend.

After being out of town for a week, I enjoyed the view from the patio and so did Lola.

Unfortunately, we lost our sweet Lola in May. In August, my son’s dog came to stay with us for a week. He made himself at home next to me on the patio furniture, but Dreamboat (our daughter’s dog who lives with us), was having none of it. He refused to join us and turned his back to us at every opportunity.

The big dog, Matty, lives with us now too. Dreamboat has come to accept his presence, albeit begrudgingly.

Austin has a wonderful new public library and I was fortunate to attend the preview. I spied a friend through a window taking a photo of other people. He was working. I was just playing around. I hoped I didn’t photo bomb his picture. He never said anything.

The rise of a hill gave me this view of the backs of folks in front of me in our local MLK Day parade 2018.

Sometimes a photo from the back is the only view easily available, yet still provides context.

Sometimes I take a photo from from way in the back trying to capture the person at the front… and find that when I crop out all of the extraneous backs, the focus of my photograph is out of focus. I have several photos like this one of Father Greg Boyle at a book signing.

An elder’s back touched by small hands on the day of our pastor’s last service before retirement.

This photo of my great uncle Norman Webber with his nephew Myron on the left and niece Zelma on the right is perfect from the back.

We had a very long, hot summer in 2011 – 90 days of triple digit temperatures. It was hard on the animals too. Almost every day I would find a little place where dirt had been dug out and I finally saw the culprit – a squirrel trying to cool off by putting his tummy in the hole. I took lots of pictures of squirrels trying to beat the heat and finally got this one that says it all. Every summer when the temperature reaches 100, this squirrel in a hole becomes my profile pic.

Squirrel in a Hole

I’ll end with a newspaper clipping with a front and a back view. It pictures participants in the Krazy Day parade in Ottumwa, Iowa in 1959. My mom is the one with the big smile. I think she was adorable. From every angle.

I accidentally traveled backward instead of forward in time when I wrote this. If you’d like to see how others interpreted the prompt, please visit Sepia Saturday.