Archive for the ‘Birds of a feather’ Category

It’s Not Me, It’s You — Purge ATL’s Collection of Break Up Readings

Written on January 31, 2011 at 1:53 pm, by Melissa Swindell

The poster kind of says it all.

Thanks to the indefatigable Jason Travis for the design. Thanks to Purge ATL for the idea and the elbow grease. Kindly RSVP here.


Purge ATL: What’s Inside the Wren’s Nest
That Other Time JTrav Designed a Poster for One of Our Events
That Time JTrav Took Pictures for Don’t Forget That Day

The Waffle House Museum is Awesome

Written on September 21, 2010 at 10:57 am, by Amelia

Last weekend I ventured to the Waffle House Museum in Avondale estates in order to do some serious professional research/use that excuse to go somewhere neat one last time.

The Waffle House Museum of Avondale Estates, Georgia

The museum is only open one Saturday per month (and by appointment), so it was important to jump on the opportunity. Undeniable bonus? It was their 55th anniversary. I even got a pin that said so (not pictured anywhere).

Waffle House Museum Counter

Inside they’ve replicated the original counter and put out some extremely low-quality plastic food. I love it.

Now You Can Work at Waffle House!

Here’s where you can have your picture taken WITH FAKE BANGS to replicate an awesome photo, which you can see to the right. What a great idea! Maybe we’ll put a curly wig on some cardboard here to recognize my time with the organization.

Waffle House Museum Docent

Here’s our tour guide for the kitchen, aka a button with a speaker above. She was pretty good, though her question-answering was a tad lacking.

Vintage Waffle House Apparel

Next to the original restaurant, they have a museum area with memorabilia though the years. We also had a legit tour guide who kept saying amazing things like, “The guy who the chili is named after is my godfather — we eat at about 12 Waffle Houses every Christmas and he has to order the chili every time to ensure quality control.” What?!

The woman above began at Waffle House as a waitress something like 30 years ago, and is now in charge of like, Florida. Being the 55th anniversary and all, she was there to celebrate. She was super nice, and super excited to be there.

Vintage Waffle House Watches and Knives

Did you know they made Waffle House watches and pocket knives? You do now!

Waffle House Memorabilia

The menus throughout the years. I could have spent so much more time there, if I had eaten beforehand.  Which I hadn’t.

Inside the Waffle House Museum

Hey, there are the two founders behind a fake counter! How neat!

Waffle House Founder at the Waffle House Museum

AND OH MY GOODNESS THERE IS ONE OF THE FOUNDERS! He walked by our group as we sat on a stoop, actively loitering while we waited for our comrades to arrive. Needless to say, we were star struck.

If you get a chance, definitely go to the Waffle House Museum. We ate at the active location down the street afterwards, and it all amounted to a super special and informative afternoon. Thanks for rallying the troops, Brooke!

Finally, this is my last blog post as an employee of the Wren’s Nest, which is making me really sad, truth be told. It’s been great fun to write here over the years, and I’m going to miss it a lot. Let’s just hope Lain is funny on his own.

Many thanks to all of you who have read this blog and supported the Wren’s Nest — it’s no small thing, and we appreciate more than can be expressed here.

I need to end this before I get irredeemably sappy.  Bye for now!

The Wren’s Nest — National Historic Landmark, Fierce Competitor

Written on August 11, 2010 at 12:35 pm, by Amelia

The calendar next to my desk is the National Historic Landmarks Photo Contest calendar.  Surprise to no one, I love it.

It doesn’t really mess around with things like “non-American” holidays or fancy words like “solstice” (June 21st: “Summer Begins”).  What it does make room for, however, is the following, marked on August 21st: “National Historic Landmarks Program Established on this Day in 1935.”  I like your priorities, my calendar.

(The Wren’s Nest, positively glowing about its NHL status.)

The Wren’s Nest is, of course, a National Historic Landmark.  In case you’re wondering what that means, exactly, it’s this: that we’re awesome, and way more awesome than most other old things.

The numbers do the talking for us:

  • There are over 1,000,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places.  Not too choosy, but nice, still.
  • 80,000 of those bad boys are listed individually.  (The rest are accounted for by things like historic districts and the contributing properties therein.  Nice try, guys.)
  • Out of the 80,000 sites on the National Register of Historic Places, only 2,430 are National Historic Landmarks like the Wren’s Nest.  Yikes.
  • This is definitive proof that we’re super special.

Obviously, inclusion in this calendar of similarly special old places would be terrific.  Wanna help?  Take a moment to look at the Wren’s Nest’s interior and exterior photos and vote on which one you think we should submit to the contest.  If we win, we’ll totally share the proceeds ($0) with you!

Happy scrutinizing!

Related: This list of National Historic Landmarks by state is neat.  (There are 48 NHLs in Georgia, in case you were interested.)  So is National Historic Landmark Flickr account.  And!  This weekend (August 14th and 15th) is one of the monthly fee-free entrance weekends at more than 100 national parks.  America, good work.

Phoenix Flies — Be at One of Its Many Destinations or be Square!

Written on March 5, 2010 at 5:28 pm, by Amelia

Starting tomorrow and continuing through the 22nd of March, Phoenix Flies 2010 will be upon us.  This truly amazing opportunity to see a huge number of Atlanta’s historical attractions — on the cheap — should not be missed.

Like so many of the other participants, the Wren’s Nest will be offering special events and extended hours, in addition to free admission for the weekends of Phoenix Flies:

  • On (Saturdays) March 6th and 13th, we’ll have our regular hours (10am – 2:30pm) with two storytelling sessions: 11:30am and 1pm.
  • On Sunday — you heard me — March 7th (as well as the 14th), we’ll be open from 1 – 4pm, with storytelling sessions at 1:30 and 3pm.

In other words, don’t believe a word of what you read on Pecanne Log.  Except the part about Oakland Cemetery.  That’s all true.

    Phoenix Flies is put on by the Atlanta Preservation Center every year and, simply put, provides an outstanding range of events, almost all for free.  If I may be a crybaby for a moment, this is one of the few times it really busts my hump to work at such a small place, because in order for the Wren’s Nest to be open for Phoenix Flies, we can’t, you know, attend many other events.  Boo hoo.

    So please, see all the neat things you can — for me.  I beseech thee.

    “Ooh, Yeah, History Right There.”

    Written on March 4, 2010 at 4:47 pm, by Amelia

    The Wren’s Nest was featured this morning on CBS Atlanta in their “Blog Stew” segment, airing at 5:43am.  I missed it.  Shoot.

    Luckily, the whole clip can be found right here.  We’re at the beginning, in case you can’t free up more than 58 seconds in your schedule.

    Sue Rodman, of the wonderful Field Trips with Sue, led the segment, and was kind enough to highlight the Wren’s Nest as one of the many, many worthwhile destinations being showcased this weekend as part of Phoenix Flies (more on that tomorrow).

    The best part is that they’re basically scrolling through the Wren’s Nest Facebook picture page as they chat, meaning that Lain and I are now totally famous photographers.  Well, along with Jonathan Hillyer.

    Wait, did I say that was the best part?

    I meant that the real best part is the quote featured in the title of this post, which embodies how I feel when I walk into the Wren’s Nest every single morning.  Breathe it in.

    This clip also highlights a challenge we face every day at the Wren’s Nest: “Joel Chandler Harris” can be very hard to say.  Most frequently, people lob off the Harris and drop an “h,” leaving us with the esteemed Joel Candler.  Being that we’re in Atlanta and Candler is a name seen often around town, it’s understandable.  Plus, I mean, three names?  Who does this guy think he is? Mary Lou Retton?

    Anyhow, thanks to Sue Rodman and CBS Atlanta for showcasing the Wren’s Nest this morning — it was great!

    Decatur Old House Fair — Right Up Our Hallway!

    Written on January 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm, by Amelia

    This may come as a shock to you, but the Wren’s Nest is more than a National Historic Landmark celebrating literature, folklore, and African American history.  It is also an old house.

    A surprising (to me, I guess) number of visitors come here just as eager to discuss 100-year-old window panes as they do the work of Joel Chandler Harris.  Living in an old house is a unifying factor, I tell you what, and Lain and I are in the know.  (Let me just say that space heaters become really, really important.)

    Decatur Old House Fair Poster

    Which is why we’re so excited about the second annual Decatur Old House Fair on March 6th.  The fair brings together experts in repair and maintenance, design, energy efficiency and historic research with owners of old houses and the likes of you and me.

    Last year’s fair — with the awesome tagline “The Greenest House is the One Already Built” — yielded our relationship with Tom Bretherton, who ended up installing our windows during our restoration.

    Tom Bretherton, Sewing the Window

    In fact, Lain had such a great time he’s now on the 2010 volunteer committee.  If joining a committee isn’t a sign of love, I don’t know what is.

    Added bonus: one of our Board members, Ken Thomas, is co-leading the “Researching Your Old House and What Style is My House?” seminar.  Yay Ken!

    Hope to see you there!

    The Georgia Trust’s 2010 Places in Peril List

    Written on January 13, 2010 at 9:21 am, by Amelia

    This may be the one Top Ten list we’re happy not to be included on.

    The Georgia Trust has released their 2010 “Places in Peril” list and, unlike 2007’s list, the Wren’s Nest was not included.  Phew!  In fact, we were even mentioned as a success story.  (See paragraph fifteen of the AJC’s great article to be inspired.)

    Herndon Home Places in Peril

    The list details historic sites in Georgia, from a still operating hospital (Central State Hospital in Milledgeville) to an archeological site (the Leake Archeological Site in Bartow County) that need attention, funding, and general help to stay afloat or, in many cases, existent.

    The list can be a tremendous boon to the sites listed on it, though inclusion doesn’t guarantee results.  It does, however, ensure attention and awareness, also known as “half the battle” (though I might push it to about 75% of the battle).

    The list features two Atlanta locations, Morris Brown College and Herndon Plaza (pictured above), both of which are manifestations of African-American success in post-civil war Atlanta.  We wrote about the Herndon Home’s troubles recently, and Morris Brown has had no shortage of local coverage of late.  Still, I hope the Places in Peril list is the boost they both need.

    Not to poo-poo our Atlanta brethren, but I am completely intrigued by two other places on this list.  First, you have Capricorn Recording Studios in Macon, who we have to thank for introducing the Allman Brothers to folks outside of Macon.  Southern rock aficionados, I leave this one to you.

    Capricorn Recording Studios

    My real favorite is The Old Dodge County Jail, mostly because looks like it was lifted directly out of Mayberry. The only difference I can gather, other than one being fictional and all,  is the fact that the Old Dodge County Jail features a quaint “hanging room.”  If the Mayberry jail had one, let me be the first to say that it was totally underutilized on the show.

    Old Dodge County Jail

    Being featured on the 2007 Places in Peril list made a huge difference to the Wren’s Nest in 2006, and I hope it has a similar effect on these worthy sites.

    Uncle Remus by Henry F. Gilbert — the Opera that Wasn’t

    Written on January 5, 2010 at 10:22 am, by Lain Shakespeare

    Henry F. Gilbert, an important early 20th Century American composer,  collected scores of African-American folk songs and aspired to write an opera called Uncle Remus.

    I swear I’m not messing with y’all.

    Gilbert never secured the rights to the Uncle Remus tales and couldn’t complete his opera, but he did write its prelude.   Gilbert derived these two songs, performed here by Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev in 2004, from the prelude —

    Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev — “Uncle Remus”

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

    Nadia and Vladimir Zaitsev — “Brer Rabbit”

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    Thanks to Fleur de Son Classics for permission to use the music.  If you like it, consider ordering the album here.

    The Uncle Remus prelude premiered at a Central Park concert in New York in August of 1910.  4,000 people attended.

    The Boston Symphony performed the prelude the following year.  Some people objected to the jaunty ragtime rhythms, but most responded positively “to the youthful vigor, the racy humor and the romantic nature of this new music.”   Philip Hale, in the Boston Herald of April 14, 1911, wrote:

    “The overture stirred the blood of the audience.  All rejoiced in hearing a new voice with something to say and an original way of saying it.  The fugue did not dampen the interest of the hearers, for the old form was used with dramatic spirit.  No wonder that the audience, surprised and delighted, was for once in no hurry to leave the hall. […]  The overture is distinctively, but not bumptiously, not apologetically, American.”

    Gilbert was one of the first American composers to break free of the Germanic style of classical music.  For Gilbert, African-American folk music was a great source of inspiration and “seemed closely related to the spirit of all America.”

    Gosh, sounds a lot like Joel Chandler Harris who, regarding A.B. Frost’s illustrations of Brer Rabbit and his critter friends, remarked: “We shall then have real American stuff, illustrated in real American style.”  Shame he wasn’t around to hear the soundtrack… embedded in a blog post… on the internet. Really woulda blown his mind.

    Related: Henry F. Gilbert: a bio-bibliography by Sherrill V. Martin

    Emily Dickinson Homestead Lives Out My Historic House Nightmare

    Written on October 28, 2009 at 10:40 am, by Amelia

    On Sunday, October 25th, a chunk of the ceiling collapsed inside the Emily Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Massachusetts.  This is my worst nightmare.

    The Emily Dickinson Homestead Amherst, Massachusetts.  The ceiling collapsed.

    The New York Times devoted one paragraph to the news, and I gasped no less than two times while reading it.

    While it’s true I’m a big baby and easily scared, this is like a timely, direct line to what frightens me.  Happy Halloween!  (Perhaps I’ll go as a piece of front parlor plaster this year and pretend to fall on unsuspecting “guests of the museum.”  Topical costumes are always crowd pleasers.)

    But for real, this hits a tad too close to home.  As part of our tour of the Wren’s Nest, we point out the huge gap in the floor between the “new” (1884) addition to the house and the original structure.  We chuckle!  It’s breezy in winter!  Brrr!  Haha, structural inadequacies!

    And let’s not forget this doozie.

    That is a piece of wood, holding up our hallway.  Now it’s an enforced piece of wood, which is only slightly more comforting.

    Remember that time part of the foundation was missing?  Me too!  It was terrifying!

    In short, as much as I empathize with the Emily Dickinson House and wish them the best, most of my thoughts can be summed up here — thank goodness our restoration took care of 97% of our issues, because otherwise I would have just peed myself.

    Emily Dicksinon Homestead Photo: Nealy-J

    Nicknames for Joel Chandler Harris — Redhead — by His Colleagues at the Savannah Morning News

    Written on October 7, 2009 at 12:26 pm, by Amelia

    Joel Chandler Harris, 1873

    • Pink-Top
    • Red-Top
    • Our friend of the ensanguined fore-top
    • Molasses-Haired Humorist
    • Vermilion-Pate
    • Naughty Boy of the Savannah Morning News

    Amazing insight into JCH’s life courtesy of Stella Brewer Brookes and her tome of greatness, Joel Chandler Harris: Folklorist.

    I’m pretty sure this also serves as a list of sweet nothings the Pecanne Log ladies whisper into Thomas Wheatley’s ears.