Sunday, June 25, 2006

Courting Dulcimers!

My good sister stopped by on Friday with this old article that was printed in the Times Record Newspaper in Spencer. The article was published on Thursday, May 17, 1973. I see in the article that we charged $60 for a three string dulcimer and $65 for a four stringed instrument. Even back then it was a great price for a handmade Appalachian instrument.

The courting dulcimer is actually two dulcimers built together. The story goes that a fellow and his girlfriend would play the courting dulcimer on the porch and as long as the parents heard the dulcimer sound then they did not worry about checking on the dating couple.

The article states that we will be the featured dulcimer players at that year's West Virginia Folk Festival which was being held in nearby Glenville on June 14 through the 17. Strange to think that we retired in Glenville and are still volunteering for the Folk Festival. Rachael, our oldest daugther was three years old when this photo was taken. Things have changed. The old fingers have gotten stiffer but my mind sometimes still thinks I am still 27!

Friday, June 23, 2006

Dracunculus vulgaris

On Saturday, June 17th, another stink lily bloomed in our fern garden. Remember the stink lily that appeared in our blog in the spring? The spring blooming critter was Amorphophallus konjac. This specimen in these photos is Dracunculus vulgaris (aka Arum dracunculus) and is called the Dragon Arum, Voodoo Lily, Ragons, Snake Lily, Black Arum, Black Dragon, Dragonwort, or Stink Lily. In Greece it is called Drakondia, the dragon or serpent being the long spadex inside the enormous maroon-lipped spathe.

It is native to the Balkans, to Mediterranean Europe, Greece, the isle of Crete & the Aegean Islands, all the way to Southwest Turkey. In some places it's a veritable weed in its natural settings, albeit a weed of splendid countenance. Remember these flowers are in a group of critters that produce an extremely foul odor in order to attract insects. This one is no exception except that the smell lasts usually only one day.

Though it looks like it ought to be tropical, it is not and it transfers to the temperate garden with great ease, doing well in zones 5-8. Thanks to Sue and Ray Horton of Burien, Washington who gave us our first start of this exotic plant.

2006 West Virginia Folk Festival

Last weekend was the WV Folk Festival here in Glenville. It is always the third weekend in June and is an event full of Appalachian music, crafts, and workshops. The photo above shows the West Virginia Folk Festival Belles in their fine attire.

Here are a few photos of this special event.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Carnival Sideshows

We met Bob Leibold when he and his first wife, Mary Ellen, showed up at the GSC science building to see our collection of Burmese pythons. It has always seemed that herpetologists bond quickly and we started a friendship that was renewed each time they arrived in Glenville as they traveled with the Gambill Carnival. Here is a business card from one of the early shows. You will note that snake sizes are often exaggerated.

Bob had an exhibit of reptiles which included the large snakes. It is amazing how much money one can make by charging just a fifty cent admission charge. Throughout the years his sideshow attractions changed. Next came the trailer that exhibited the “world’s largest” alligator. Sideshows love superlatives. The reptiles were then replaced with a haunted house that was automated and geared to scaring the “youngins”. At this time he was separated from his wife and was touring with his young son, Bobby.

It seems that Bob and his second wife (or third- not certain) were living in Florida. Well, to make a long story short, his wife ran away with a truck driver named Stony. While Bob was away doing a reptile show, his wife cleaned him out of house and reptiles. Yes, he came home to a house with no furniture and she had sold his vast reptile collection including rare albino pythons and other strange beasts.

The last time I saw Bob was when he arrived in town with a new sideshow attraction. The sign over the exhibit said: “Come and See What Cocaine Can Do To You!” This was a modification of the old geek sideshow where a hired hand would dress up as a “cocaine victim” and he would stare out in space. The trailer exhibit was a living room where the “victim” would be seated in a wheelchair. The chair was rigged so it seems the cocaine fellow had no feet. There was a wire grid between the cocaine victim and the paying customers. Every now and then the miserable cocaine victim would hit the wire grid with his cane, yell loudly, and then go back to staring blankly into space.

Bob made more money by placing a sign on the wire partition that said “See what Stony will do for a dollar!” The customers would place a dollar in a slot in the wire grid and guess what? Stony did absolutely nothing. People would be suckered easily into his scam.

Guess you have caught the name of the “cocaine victim”. It is the name of the fellow that ran away with his wife. On the front of the exhibit was a cemetery headstone that had embossed on it “R.I.P. Stony” with the date that his wife disappeared.

The last I heard from Bob was several years later. A carnival worker said that Bob was out of the sideshow business and working at a WalMart in Florida!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Carnival “Heads out of Dodge!”

Yesterday, the carnival left our hamlet of Glenville. Did I tell you it did not even have a Merry-Go-Round? That is like lemonade without sugar! Ok- enough of the trashing of the carnival.

In a future posting, I will discuss the sideshows owned by Bob Leipold. He always stopped by and had supper when the Gambill carnival was in town. What stories!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Cedar Point in Gilmer County

Well, most of you folks know the famous amusement parks such as Cedar Point, Busch Gardens, and Six Flags. This week the world renowned Glenville Lions Club Carnival is in town as it has been for decades during the first week of June. When our kids were small, we would take the girls and enjoy the excitement of the rides and shows. Yes, back then the carnival was part of the Gambill Amusements and was a nice little carnival for this small town. The rides were geared to kids and adults with a colorful array of games and shows on the midway. The Lions Club always has their hot dog trailer ready for the “attack of the hungry locals.” We would partake of the corn dogs, hot dogs, and Sarah always would have to have her cotton candy!

It was a treat to
watch people at the carnival. One would see the “hill folk” come into town. These are the families that one did not see unless the carnival came into town. One year in the early 70’s, the girls and I rode the Ferris wheel and they tried to get me to ride the Tilt-a Whirl! None of these dangerous rides for this Dad! I happened to be watching a bony “hill lady” with curlers in her hair riding the Tilt-a-Whirl. Her curlers were flopping and flying out of her hair and she was laughing uncontrollably. As she was screaming, I noticed an object flying up into the air and landing on the ground under the amusement ride. I did not think anything about it until the ride stopped, the lady went over to the object that she lost, and placed it in her mouth! Her false teeth were launched by the ride!

Today’s carnival is sad in comparison to the past. On the gravel lot we have one adult ride (The Roundup) and the rest being a few kiddy rides. The carnival always is across from Foodland Plaza and today I asked Jason, my carryout, about the carnival. He said “when the carnival folks setup, they came over to Family Dollar to see if they could use their mechanical horse which is out in front of the store!” I know he was kidding but where are the Ferris wheels, Tilt-a Whirls, and the Giant Snake Exhibits? The only unchanged memory is the Lion’s Club Hot Dog Trailer.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The First Meeting

This past Friday Flora, who will be four years old on Halloween, met her new cousin for the first time. Samuel, who was one week old on Friday, seemed thrilled to meet his cousin. Notice the extreme excitement on his face. The joy on Flora's is obvious.