About me

Monday, July 4, 2011

04 July 2011: Ringing the Bells at the Coats Country Museum

Or whatever they call that monumental waste of human effort these days.

I parked at Bro's and walked across the backyard, which used to be a field. I followed the old path we made decades ago as we answered the on-going summons of Tink and Addie. Since those olden days, Bro build a fence, and a hurricane took down a section for us. I can't help but think Tink had something to do with that.

About a million hapless souls had parked in the yard that was our field and hog pen. I threaded my way through the assemblage of Detroit's finest to get a picture of the sign. Addie loved this sign.

My greatest fear was being recognized. Fortunately, very few were here who shared much DNA with me, and those were, generally grand and great-grand children. I was able to move around unmolested.

I went into the museum, mainly because it would be freshly aired out. The place is usually musty and devoid of oxygen. It's a sinus sufferer's nightmare. Today, the doors were open and the fans were on. It was still hot. Here's a little of what I bothered to photograph this time.

The loom.

Addie had someone working on this loom decades ago. One died, and then the other. Here it sits with the cotton twine slowly returning to the dust it once was.

My Grandmother's pump organ.

This sat to the side of the living room in their house for years. Few if any ever played it. Mostly, children messed with it until the older people got grumpy. At one point, there was discussion regarding adding an electric pump so the player wouldn't have to use the foot pump. Yeah, we were lazy that way. That was some 50 years ago, and little thought was given to its value as a collectible. I almost sat down and played it, but that would have led to discussion with the authorities.

Jeremiah's boat.

A hardly 20 year old man carved this boat on the south coast of Jamaica where I was on spring break in 1977 during my student teaching. Yes, my student teaching occurred in Jamaica. Mandeville, Jamaica, to be exact. I bought this, brought it home unpacked on a Delta flight, and put it in the museum. I do not know why. It has no place there. Putting there bought me nothing with Addie. (Tink was dead then.)

The cider press.

In the fall when apples come into season, we'd gather and make cider. Looking back, I'm not sure why anyone would make hundreds of gallons of cider except for adult purposes. I would turn the crank some, but it was hard work, nothing for a boy of single-digit years, and soon the men would take over. I was allowed to drink some of the soft cider, but the amount was seriously limited. Remember that this was years before indoor plumbing, and too much fresh cider had serious intestinal consequences.

Petrified wood.

This chunk is one of several I pulled from the sandy ground behind the dam of my grandparents' pond. I do not know how the chunks managed to get into the museum, and I'm pretty sure they are not adequately tagged. The more important thing is that I had recurring dreams of pulling these petrified logs from the ground, only to unplug an oil well. I doubt I'm ever in a position to stand on that ground again, and if I did, I'm unlikely to find an oil well, but I wouldn't mind exploring the clear water and sandy bottom of that round pond that frequently appears in one dream or another. Often, I'm snorkeling in it.

Addie's caddie.

Addie called Mama and me to the rest home one Sunday to tell us something. It was big, or so she said. Like good little house elves, we did as told. Addie was beaming from ear to ear. She was putting the Cadillac in the museum. That next weekend, some men took down the side door, drove the car in, parked it, and rebuilt the door. That was the extent of the preparation the caddie receive. As you can see, the tires are still in prime shape. I'm sure the contents of the gas tank would pass for napalm now.

The car was made in 1953, and it only ever received AMOCO high test gasoline, the clear kind. Tink thought the quality was higher, and that'd make the car last longer.

The last lawnmower.

I'm not sure I ever used this one, but I rode the others for hours. Tink usually bought whatever NCSU used on the farms at the time, and seeing a Murray is a bit of a surprise. I also figure this mower is broken in some expensive manner. Otherwise, someone would still be using it. Or selling it.

The bell tower.

Tink's inspiration was the bell tower in Chapel Hill. Of course, NCSU also has one. What you see is as close as he could come. It stands about 20 feet high. The angle iron is bolted to a frame that extends about as far into the ground. Tink didn't want it blowing over in the wind. What he created was a community lightning rod.

My brother and I rung those bells at 9 A.M. every Sunday morning with very few exceptions when some neighbor was called in. Addie would stand at the back steps with her arm held high. At 9, she would drop her arm, and we would ring the bells for one minute.

Once, she held the phone out the door. Her sister in Elizabeth City was on the line. The story told thereafter was that Mr. Coats' bells had been heard in Elizabeth City. You might smile over that the first time or two, but after several hundred tellings, it gets a little stale. By the way, I'm pretty sure the sister called Addie. Otherwise, Addie would have cut the call short to save on the long distance charges.

Here's what the bells sounded like today.

Let's call it a joyful noise, and just leave it at that. My mother hated that racket, and went out of her way to not have to hear it.

The toilet.

Yes, Tink's toilet. One of the first indoor toilets in the area. It was built by closing in a section of a porch. There's a shower stall also. The toilet works, but I don't suggest it. The rate of flow is low because of roots in the lines. Someone will spend an hour with a plunger if anything slightly solid goes down it. I could tell a story on someone here, a story about spousal duties, but I'm taking the higher road and letting all that go.

Idiots making ice cream.

I love me some homemade ice cream as much as the next fellow, even when it's being cranked by a sputtering and ancient John Deere motor. In this instance, the peeps are parked just to the side of the septic tank. They were not the least bit interested in that fact. I left them to break through and become up close and personal with Addie and Tink turds, just as my mother did after all those enemas she gave them.

A card from Robert.

Robert was my first cousin. He died of AIDS complications in New York City back in the early days of the disease. His parents never really accepted this, at least the mother. His sister has turned into a real hater, as I've learned the hard way. No, we can't share a meal. Hatred seems to run in the family.

At some point, Addie did something, and Robert sent her a get well cart. He became the darling of the blue hairs. The note he wrote is still visible under good light, and there a bit of rhyme in it. I'm surprised no one suggested he write greeting cards after that.

Tink all buffed.

This picture of Tink was taken when he graduated form Chapel Hill, or there about. It could be later. He was late graduating because he had to stop a while to make more money. Or something. I've long since forgotten. Fast forward to his funeral when Addie kissed him on the lips and said he looked stern. "Stern in the end" has since become a thing to say in our family. You'll probably hear me use it once in a while.

Addie's mug shot.

This is Addie's mug shot from when she taught in Angier. These people were born old.

Addie graduates.

Addie graduated from the Normal School in Greensboro. Later, this school became the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. My terminal degree is from there.

Note the flowers. They were roses from her mother. Addie rooted those roses, and they grew by the side of the house for decades. The bush was destroyed a few year back when the community ladies wanted the grounds to look cleaner. Never underestimate a fool with power tools.

Tink towards the end.

This is how I remember Tink. Sitting blind in the corner, delivering instructions to the people he coerced into working for free. The most anyone ever saw from those two was a "much obliged 'til you're better paid."

1 comment:

jjkilgore said...

JP - My respect for your current humanity and past history grows more and more each day. It's an honor to know you, only having only briefly met you.