Tips for recommending a college woman to a sorority chapter.Read More
A few months ago, I won an Everything But the House auction for an amazing set of vintage Louisville Stoneware luncheon dishes and bowls. Now, I've been collecting Stoneware for as long as I can remember, but this is one of the most unique designs I've ever seen. According to the mark on the bottom of the pottery, it was made for Pleasant Hill. Of course, I knew that Pleasant Hill is the home of Shaker Village -- I certainly took in more than a few grade school field trips there -- but I wanted to learn a little more about the pottery and the Shaker Tree of Life logo.
The familiar Tree of Life on the front of the dishes was, of course, a variant of the orange-and-green logo that's represented Kentucky's Shaker Village since the property opened to the public as an inn and restaurant in 1968. A little more research told met that the stylized Tree of Life logo dates back to an 1854 painting by Shaker folk artist Hannah Cohoon. Mrs. Cohoon, perhaps the most famous painter of the short-lived Shaker religious and folk art movement, painted many variants of the Tree of Life theme. (For a fascinating take on Shaker iconography and art, read this New Yorker article.)
My research into this awesome pottery pattern got even more interesting when I posted photos of a piece to Instagram, and got some comments from an IG follower who works at Stoneware. She showed photos of the pattern and the branding marks to a longtime Stoneware painter, who dated these pieces to the late 1980s or early 1990s. How fun that social media, online auctions, and a little research could piece together the story of these fun dishes!
This post originally appeared on HerKentucky in November 2011. In honor of Women's History Month, I thought I'd re-share the impact that Mrs. Lloyd had on my family and my hometown.
The history of Alice Lloyd College sounds a whole lot like a heartwarming story made custom-made for ABC Family or the Hallmark Channel. A turn-of-the-century Boston Brahmin debutante turned newspaperwoman leaves her opulent New England life to found a school in the heart of Appalachia. She and her husband are soon estranged -- he moves back to the city -- but she remains in the mountains to further her mission. Soon, a determined young Wellesley aluma hears of the experiment and moves to Kentucky from her upstate New York home to serve the area. Their tenacity and "society connections" lead to a sustainable donor network, allowing for a free education for all. A century later, hundreds of Kentuckians owe their educational and professional success to these great ladies.
While this may be the stuff TV movies are made of, it's also the very real basis for countless educational opportunities in my hometown. Alice Spencer Geddes Lloyd, Radcliffe alumna, proto-feminist and editor/publisher of the Cambridge Press, moved to Knott County, Kentucky in 1915, with the goal of improving social and economic conditions. Along with Miss June Buchanan, Mrs. Lloyd soon founded a school in the Caney Creek area, which would become Alice Lloyd College.
Mrs. Lloyd's impact was felt in every corner of the tiny mountain community; the town itself was even re-namedfor the Browning poem "Pippa Passes", in a nod to both Mrs. Lloyd's literary leanings and an influential set of early donors. Her commitment to staid Yankee values shine through even upon a visit to the modern campus. The strict dress and moral code(no cosmetics or heeled shoes, no "consorting" with members of the opposite sex, sailor-style skirt-and-blouse uniforms for all women) of years past may have relaxed significantly, but Purpose Road and the If Guest Cottage (named, of course, for Kipling's ode to perseverance) serve as constant reminders of a sterner era.
My own family's history is so intertwined with the history of ALC that it's impossible for me to separate one story from the other. My paternal great-grandmother,
Rilda Slone Watson, grew up on Caney Creek,one of eight children. Most of the college's original buildings were designed and built by her brother, John Commodore Slone. Her sister, Alice Slone, went on to found a nearby school on the ALC donor-funding model. My great-grandmother herself worked for the college, assisting Miss Buchanan and manning the Exchange, dispersing the estate items that donors bequeathed to the university. (By all accounts, her office was a treasure trove.)
Over the years, Mrs. Lloyd's legacy has shaped my family's destiny in countless ways. By all accounts, the extended clan were a bookish, artistic lot, but the education and opportunities afforded by Mrs. Lloyd'sCaney Creek schools were truly remarkable for the time and place. My grandfather, an Appalachian teenager during the Great Depression, spent two summers in Massachusetts working on cranberry bogs and seeing the sites, due to a "work-study" arrangement Mrs. Lloyd set up for local kids. My great-great-aunt earned a B.A. from Ohio State in 1932. In the 1930s, a trip to Lexington from Caney Creek took at least a full day. I can't imagine the physical rigors of traveling to Columbus or Boston, and I certainly know that those doors would not have been opened without the influence of Mrs. Lloyd and Miss June. (Although my grandfather, a hardcore Literature teacher in his own right, contended to his dying day that Mrs. Lloyd was an unduly rigorous second grade teacher.)
The ALC campus has adapted to the twenty-first century, and many of the buildings of my childhood have made way for modern campus life. Still, the school remains a charming testament to Mrs. Lloyd's vision. You can learn more about the early days of Caney Creek Community Center here. And if y'all will excuse me, I've got a screenplay to write.
Jennifer shares a cherished family recipe for German Butter Cookies.Read More
Built in 1926, U.S. Route 23 was conceived as a North-to-South highway spanning from Detroit to Jacksonville. Unlike the sleek, efficient Interstate Highway System that would later come into vogue, U.S. 23 and its contemporaries meander through small towns across the country. It offers few tourist activities, and the scenery is usually pretty modest -- small homes, even smaller post offices, and the errant law office -- but for Eastern Kentucky natives, Route 23 is so much more than a road. It's a symbolic journey to economic improvement, a sentimental drive home, and the birthplace of country music royalty. It's a lesson in industry, and economics. It's the road we take when we run away, and the road on which we inevitably return.
U.S. 23 winds through the heart of Eastern Kentucky, coming in from Virginia at Jenkins and stretching north to Ohio along the river bank in Ashland. This 144-mile stretch traces the journey of Kentucky's coal industry -- from the coal mines in the heart of the region to the tipples and factories in the more industrial Northeast corner of the state.
Near Prestonsburg on U.S. Route 23.
For Appalachia natives, this stretch of road is known mainly as the road to the factories of Ohio and Michigan. To our uncles and grandfathers, it was the road to a better life. Jobs at the Detroit automotive factories lay at the Northern tip of Route 23; my own family history is filled with stories of carloads of young men leaving the hollers and making the trek north. After graduation in the '50s and '60s, few job prospects arose in Appalachia. It was only in researching this piece that I learned that Route 23 was known as a Hillbilly Highway for the escape route it provided young Appalachians seeking a better life. I certainly did know, however, that the lyrics to Floyd County native Dwight Yoakam's 1980s hit "Readin', Rightin', Route 23" rang true to so many of our friends and family.
In the years since Dwight first sang his powerful tribute to Route 23's legacy, the Kentucky portion of the road has been nicknamed the Country Music Highway , since a famous country music singer hails from every county along the stretch. Road signs along each county mark these famous sons and daughters, and a Paintsville museum commemorates their work. The road commemorates the rockabilly sound of Dwight Yoakam, the haunting ballads of Keith Whitley, and the virtuoso performances of Ricky Skaggs. The Queen herself, Loretta Lynn, is honored, as are the Judds. There's even a sign denoting the hometown of singer/actor Billy Ray Cyrus, if that's your thing.
Route 23 has remained virtually unchanged for as long as I can remember. It's an old road going through old towns. It isn't the kind of road that attracts golf courses, shopping centers, or subdivisions. It's a slice of old Americana virtually preserved in amber. Recently, however, the stretch of 23 running through Johnson and Lawrence counties was affected by an intense tornado. Homes were tragically destroyed, as were many fields and hillsides. Sections of Route 23 now present heartbreaking scenes -- homes are destroyed and hillsides demolished. Yet, for Eastern Kentuckians, the road has always been about hope. It's the promise of a better future. It's the road to prosperity and better times.
Stars of the Country Music Highway: