Sunday, March 20, 2011

Wall Words: Instructions and Reminders of What is Important

As I was getting ready for church this morning, I was also trying to decide on a topic for my next blog post.  I was uninspired as I went through possible post subjects; one was discarded because the timing wasn't right, another because it was too similar to another recent post, and on and on.  I looked to my left, to the wall next to the shower and there they were -- wall words, those rub-off decals purchased when we moved into our home and installed in the bathroom and living room.

Wall Words come in many varieties, including hundreds of quotations on dozens of topics.  You also have the option to custom order individual words in your choice of color and font.  I decided that I wanted instructions to myself for the bathroom.  These words, then, are what my "best self" would do if she didn't get bogged down in worrying, regretting, borrowing trouble, negative ruminating, and the other habits I have that can make me miserable. 

One wall in our living room has words that remind us of what is important.  These words include kindness, serenity, strength, love, patience, freedom, peace, hope, courage, wisdom, compassion, friends, and family.

I feel that words have power -- words that we say to ourselves, words that we say to others, words that we write and words that we read.  Sometimes we just need a little reminder or a little nudge to encourage ourselves to dance, or sing, or dream or believe again.

What are your "wall words"?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Book Recommendation: Living with What You Love: Decorating with Family Photos, Cherished Heirlooms, and Collectibles by Monica Rich Kosan

I have always been enchanted by homes that, rather than having a "decorator" look, reveal the personalities, tastes, and values of the family members who live there.  The presence of family photos, heirlooms, and collectibles illustrate the author's observation that "a house is not a home unless it displays our most cherished possessions."  Living with What You Love gives us the inspiration, tools, and suggestions to approach our own possessions with the goal of reminding ourselves (and others) of who we are, and how we can display our precious objects with creativity and style.

I have years of accumulating photographs, books, and other precious items behind me; my challenge is to be selective in my choices for display.  We are reminded, though, that "cherished objects are not just things of the past.  Whenever we take a photograph, add a personal touch to something that belongs to us, or select a new piece for a collection, we are in the process of creating heirlooms."

A section of the book shows us the value of mixing the old and the new all around the house, especially in regard to photographs; mixing generations of family members can introduce discussions of the past and present.  Also within the pages of the book, you'll find ideas for displaying large and small photos, as well as using technology for always-changing photo display.  Photographic illustrations include an heirloom silver tray holding small, intimate photos framed in silver and a large tv screen devoted to rotating family photographs.

Since my home is filled with books, I was particularly interested in the ideas for mixing them with photos and other items. 

I was also reminded that other precious items can be framed, including certificates, letters, and diplomas and placed on the wall with treasured photographs.  For a start, I'm going to copy the back of my and my husband's birth certificates, showing our baby footprints, for a photo area in our guest bedroom.

Other suggestions included leaving albums and loose photos out in  open boxes or baskets for friends and family to thumb through.

A chapter heading called "Intimate Landcapes"  refers to little areas that remind us of what is important to us.  Tabletops, shelves, mantels, buffets, wherever there is a flat surface can be used to put together family vignettes, which can include memories to hold in your hand, such as individual or collections of rocks, jewelry, or other mementos.

Devoted space can be places individual members of the household use for their own purposes, including personal offices or studios or spots as small as a closet or even an open drawer -- any place that can be used to reveal and enjoy the individual's personal choices of photos and memorabilia.

I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in decorating the home with a more personal touch and especially for the beautiful photographs, which can serve as a springboard to more ideas for creativity and personal pleasure in our surroundings.

You can purchase Living with What You Love from Amazon or borrow it from your public library, as I did.

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Going to Gobler": Before There was Walmart, There was "Missouri's Most Famous Country Store"

When I was a little girl, growing up in the bootheel of Missouri, I loved to hear the words, "We're going to Gobler."  Gobler Merchantile Company was a central location of commerce in southeast Missouri and northeast Arkansas from 1937 until 1956 and its success was nothing short of amazing.

Just a visit to the store was quite an event for a young girl.  I remember a huge (today, it might be called humongous) building that had grown from 30x60 corrugated tin structure containing $900 worth of merchandise.  It had grown into multiple buildings by the 1950's, housing everything needed by the farmers who were its main customers -- groceries, housewares, farm implements, hoes and other tools, and space for new departments and lines of merchandise.  According to Virginia Branch, who has written a tribute to Gobler Merchantile, it eventually covered about five acres and contained a grocery store and meat market, drug center and dry goods section, furniture, housewares, and hardware departments, a restaurant, television shop and lumber yards.

People came from miles around to Gobler; cars were often parked on both sides of the highway for almost a mile distant on the county line road.  Entertainment was scheduled to attract even more customers, which included the Slim Rhodes show and other fairly well known country and gospel performers.  Many families planned their Saturday afternoons around a 4:00 prize drawing.  Later, a drawing for a car brought the largest number of shoppers in Gobler's history.

Gobler Mercantile's popularity was largely due to business partner and proprietor, Dennye Mitchell, who was primarily responsible for building the store from one small structure to what was larger than many "superstores" today.  Its reputation also grew when Mitchell began advertising on KBOA radio in Kennett, Missouri; thousands of households regularly tuned in to "Old Camp Meeting Time" while eating their breakfasts and heard what the 18-wheeler trucks had recently delivered to "Missouri's Most Famous Country Store."

My stepmother told me that there was also a smoke-filled night spot called the B&B Club in Gobler, to which young couples in the area would go for entertainment.  Elvis Presley performed there twice early in his career.

The shortcut from my home in Kennett to Memphis took me by Gobler during my years of driving back and forth to the University of Memphis (then Memphis State).  There was nothing to remind me of Gobler Merchantile and the time I spent there because Missouri's Most Famous Country Store burned to the ground in 1956.  Today, the farm community has a population of fewer than 300.

If you happen to drive north of Blytheville on Highway NN, you may recognize the little town by "The Soul Shack", Ragins Salvage Yard and Trucking, or the Gobler Baptist Church.  Nothing remains of Gobler Merchantile.  If you stop and listen carefully, though, you may hear the country and gospel performers, The Slim Rhodes Show, or even Elvis himself entertaining hundreds of people there..  You may also hear the children, the young couples, and the old farmers sharing the excitement, their voices celebrating that special weekly event, "Going to Gobler."

Photographs of Gobler Merchantile and Virginia Branch's entire tribute, as well as a history of KBOA and its assocation with Gobler, by Joe Bankhead, are available on KBOA's website.


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