Sunday, May 30, 2010

While Disconnected

Finally. I got a phone call on Friday evening from my computer guy. My PC was set to go, all sparkly and updated with the latest anti-virus and spyware. Yes, I could do this myself, but I would spend more money. That's right, it costs me less to have it done professionally than to buy the updates myself!

Anyway, when I dropped PC off to ACC (my computer wiz), he asked how I was doing. "I'm feeling a bit disconnected," I replied. And I did, feel that way, that is. Now, I did have my little, cranky laptop and I checked email twice each day and read some blogs. Everything took many times longer on that little laptop. It wasn't happy. I talked to it quite a bit, not always nicely. But it and I survived the four days and now we are both happy. I have PC back and laptop gets to sleep in it's dark, zippered bag, tucked away in the corner of my closet.

Some interesting stuff happened while I was feeling disconnected. The manager of that East Gloucester restaurant called for the annual pre Memorial weekend tuning. I always dread that job. Rarely is there a parking spot nearby, the piano is a nightmare to get into with it's over sized, artist palette painted lid that requires three people to slide it tailwards and balance on a couple bar stools. Then there's the manager...
Amazingly, I was able to park nearly in front of the building. Amazingly, the piano was not too terribly out of tune so I wasn't quite so nervous about that precariously balanced lid. Amazingly, the manager...well some things don't change.

I had a surprise call this week. Some of you who have been reading here for awhile might remember a certain problem with a local tech. Well, said tech called me and came very near to apologizing. Sort of spewed compliments rather than sorries, but was trying to communicate the same message which, ultimately, was that my services were needed. I'll give most anyone a second chance and I agreed to the job. Keys were dropped off on Friday and it is a decent amount of work to be completed in a week. Tech has already called trying to change things around but I'd gotten too far into the job. Iffy that I'll consider any more work for this tech in the future after seeing and hearing the tech on Friday.

Saturday was my first craft fair of the year. I was not very optimistic about the entire endeavor and was feeling like I'd made a mistake signing up for the fair. I felt even worse when I saw the turnout of participants. The organizer remarked that only seven had signed up. That was going to look very unattractive to shoppers. Then, as the opening time passed, it was obvious that two participants were no-shows. Only five tables! A little pottery, some photography, beaded jewelry, doll clothes, and my miniatures and ivory jewelry. I pretty much figured I would be taking a loss. But, somehow, I sold stuff! There was never an enormous crowd. People just trickled in and out. Every once in a while there were a dozen or so folks at a time. But, I sold stuff! Two easel miniatures, one pair of earrings, and eleven necklaces. I still can't believe it. And the rain even held off until I had packed up, rolled my belongings to my truck on T-Wharf, and loaded up.

This week I'm building a seven foot rocket. Don't worry, it's inoperable.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Unrelated Thoughts and Deeds

Before I forget to say this, here it is. My PC is going to be having it's yearly service mid-week. I still hope to be around, checking up on all of you using my outdated and unreliable laptop. All being operable!

This has been small miracles week and it's a good thing considering some other stuff, but more on that later. First of all, I got a call from the DPW. They HAD found some of the graves that I was looking for. All I needed to do was go down and pick up the paperwork, which I promptly did. My apologies to the DPW office for doubting their capabilities (at least on this one). With the papers that gave the gravesite addresses in hand, 'A' and I set out for Beech Grove Cemetery. Well, we may have been given the addresses, but the cemetery had no street markers. So, although we knew that the Manning relatives were buried in lot 45 of East Elm, we had no idea which street was which. Needing a good walk, we roamed and read markers.There it was! Hard to miss! I took some photos (obviously) and we decided to wander another cemetery on the other side of town, Locust Grove. Locust Grove is owned by Rockport but is located in Gloucester. Welcome to my odd little town.

'A' and I took Saturday off and headed north to Skip's for lunch. It was busier there than usual. 4 o'clock was the scheduled start of their first classic car show of 2010. Even though we were there at noon, people were starting to arrive. 350 cars expected for the first show. We finished lunch and as we headed for the local shopping area to visit a 'Building 19 1/6', I called home to check on the mail. I just had a feeling...and it came true. My check had arrived from the art association! Anyway, 'Building 19 1/6' is a discount, overstock sale store that has everything you never need unless you don't buy it. 'A' bought four DVDs at only $3.99 each. I resisted the temptations of the office supply section and spent nothing. When we got back home I checked out my check, they had also enclosed copies of the sales receipts. The photo was sold to a Rockport resident - South End, the painting sold to a guy from Stoughton, which is a good distance from here. Both did sell on the same day, actually consecutive receipts!

This Saturday is the craft fair. The corrected hours are from 11 until 4. Each time I've participated in this particular fair, I have complained about poor advertising. I decided to take matters into my own hands.I have posted announcements on some local bulletin boards and have a similar sign (with the town added to the info) in the rear window of my truck.

Last night, as I checked my email, I was in for a surprise. Not a pleasant one, although nowadays, after 8 years of a variety of similar emails, they have become pathetically amusing. For the first four and a half years after my divorce, my ex found it entertaining to send threatening emails to me. He also posed as me online on several rather questionable adult web sites giving my contact information. He began a smear campaign against me with business associates and through several online sites. His threatening mode continued, in earnest, until my local police filed criminal harassment charges against him and had him served (overseas) with a restraining order. Since that time, he has calmed down, sending only about one email per year. Last night was the first in about 15 months. We chuckled when reading his absurd claims and threats. Copies have been printed and filed. Poor soul is obviously miserable to need to keep doing this. What satisfaction could he receive? For the record, I have never once responded.

I was reading an online friend's blog the other day and the subject matter got me thinking about a song on the CD "Bridge to Havana". So, Uncle B., the song is titled "Unlonely" and it is performed by Montel Jordan and Carlos Alfonso. And spell check does say unlonely is not a word.

So what else have I been doing? I've booked myself on the Thacher Island boat for a mid-June island trip. I'll check out the condition of the reed organ. Hopefully, all will be well with it after it's second winter alone. I'll probably use any spare time out there to do some sketching. I've just finished another painting. No title yet, not even dry yet. You get to see it first here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

So, I'm Weird. What's Your Excuse?

This morning's adventure to the town hall was to search cemetery records. I have to express my disappointment. Maybe it's just me, I know I'm a little different, but to me, we seem to have a very dull, somewhat off-putting, poorly trained in public relations crew down there at the town offices. All I wanted to do was look up a half dozen names in the cemetery records. Was I able to do this? No. I had to leave them a list. And please write my name and phone number on that list. They (the DPW office) will call if they find anything in the records. I have the distinct impression that the list was filed in the shredder the moment the door shut behind me upon leaving. I hope I'm mistaken. Even if I am mistaken, their search will be somewhat useless as many of the names are duplicates but of different generations of the same family. I did note death dates, but I'm doubtful if they will take the time to notice.

On the other hand, Bob sent me a link to a grave locator website and I've had a blast exploring it. I'm going to start photographing all the Manning gravestones.


I hauled myself to the art association, yesterday, to inquire about the whereabouts of my check that was supposedly put in the mail, to me, a week ago this past Monday. Oh dear, they were apologetic, my check had not been mailed after all! They wait 30 days from the sale of the artwork before paying up. Huh. Well, when did the pieces actually sell? She looked up the info on her computer to find that they had sold on April 18th. Both of them. Yeah, I find that very unsettling. Two totally unrelated mediums and two totally unrelated subject matters sell on the same day. Anyway, it was exactly one month to the day as I stood there and heard her say she'd be getting the check out in a few days. I wait. Maybe by the end of this week?


Big night out tonight! I went to the library to hear/see a presentation by Paul St. Germain on his book about Thacher Island. It was a packed room for a well commentated PowerPoint presentation. I got my book signed. Paul will be giving the same presentation next month for the historical society. I'm going to that one, too. Same song, same's Rockport... not a lot of options for a night out!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Again? Already?

It's getting really bad when so many different things are going on that I can't remember what they all are or were. That's how I feel this week. I did get a lot accomplished, but looking back I mostly see the things that I didn't get done. That bothers me.

I owe quite a few people emails. I WANT to stay in touch, I look forward to hearing from them, I really DO want to write some emails. It's just that by the time this time of day (night) works it's way around, I'm tired. I'm tired now and I debated whether to blog tonight. I knew that if I didn't, tomorrow I would wish I had. Just like those emails. I probably should be writing them instead of this. Oh well.

I had a successful morning at the historical society on Monday. I started through picture files and found these two with Manning's store.The larger photo is how his shop was when he occupied the right half of the Manning Block (the building to the right of the hanging sign) and McLane's Shoes was in the left side. The small insert was later, post Manning, with Oker Tailors on the left and A&P Grocery on the right. This Monday I plan to photocopy the large photo, sans insert.Here's the view today (literally!). The Manning Block is the beige building with white trim on the left side of the street. I also discovered, quite by accident, that the historical society has in it's collection, the clock made by Manning and shown in the newspaper photo of him that I posted in a previous entry. AND, here's a pretty cool, old photo of the Manning Organ Company building in Millbrook Meadow. I guess I should mention that when I am finished with the actual research for the Manning article, I will begin as a trainee, in research, Monday mornings, at the SBHS. Just thought I needed something else to do! Volunteer.

Other things...the lawn got mowed for the second time this season. Not a favorite job, made even nastier by all the pollen which, of course, bothers me terribly. I grabbed and swallowed one of 'A's Actifeds before I started. I guess it helped a little.

Keys arrived on Tuesday. And on Wednesday. Thursday, too. And today! I got a call this afternoon from a tech in Florida. He's shipping a rush job. Within a bit over a week's span there will have been keys from CA, MS, NJ, FL, and MA! This is great news for my pocketbook. On Wednesday, I took my truck in to my mechanic because the brakes were starting to sound a tad scratchy. The short of it - oil, filter, new front brakes, and two new front tires totaling just over $550. Ouch.

Yesterday was a girl's day off. The three of us headed to Exeter, NH. A friend of my mom's just moved there and wanted my mom to come see their new place. I thought it best that I drive my mom for the first trip up there so that she could familiarize herself with the route before driving it on her own. It was a nice, sunny day and a pleasant drive. We spent about 2 hours visiting and then the three of us (A, mom, and I) went to Skip's for dinner before heading home. Total time - 7 hours. On the way home we spotted Manning Street, in Ipswich, a town where many of the Mannings had lived. I'll check it out in a couple weeks when I head that way on a tuning job. Most of the old houses in Ipswich have original owner/date plaques on them so maybe I'll find a Manning home.

Today, I forced myself to make two different contact 'calls'. The first was a drop-by the art association to inquire about their timetable for sending out payment checks on sold work. Ummm, the treasurer said she put them out to be mailed on Monday. Today is Friday, I live in the same town, something doesn't add up. I told her I'd give it a few more days, then if I haven't received it, I'd be back. Then I FINALLY made a decision on an upcoming craft fair. There are two coming up, in town, on the same day. One, at the Old Firehouse and not my favorite venue at all. The second, at Spiran Hall somewhat off the beaten tourist path and less obvious. I chose to try the Old Firehouse again solely due to better sale hours. So on May 29th, 10 a.m - 4 p.m. that's where I'll be. Selling miniatures and key ivory jewelry - hopefully!

Today was a good day. May good stuff continue to happen for all of us!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Home for Sale

I just received an email from a friend in Florida. Seems my home is for sale. Yes, home. It will always be that for me. Looking at the pictures, I can see that some changes have been made. Mostly, I hate to see that the gorgeous, art deco lighting fixtures in the front hall and dining room are gone. I knew I should have taken them with me! Then there is the ugly drab wall-to-wall in the bedrooms, but after 8 years of being a rental property I'm sure it needed new. The other flooring looks nice, some wall colors have changed, the kitchen now needs an update. Some info in the listing isn't complete like it lists only a shower for the bathroom when the main bath has a tub, as well. And no picture of the workshop! Certainly they could have taken a better picture of the front of the house. If you want to see the listing you can go here. I'm homesick.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Today's Explorations

Early this morning I headed out to take photos of Manning's stores. Morning light was best for the photographs and for finding his Main Street store unobstructed by parked cars. His second store on Railroad Avenue required some good timing to get the shot in between commuters. For Rockport, Five Corners is a busy intersection.

Pictured here is Manning's 38 Main Street store (currently number 75). Manning occupied the right half of the establishment and McLane's Shoe Store the left half. The Manning family owned the building referred to as "The Manning Block". At a later date, the left portion of the building was A. F. Oker's tailor shop, where in 1932, Mr. Oker was murdered.
This rather drab, red building was Manning's second store and he lived in a small apartment on the second floor. The current address is 1B Railroad Avenue. When Manning owned the building it was number 2 and subsequently number 1A (when a number 1 was built). Currently, number 2 is across the street. The original building has been modified over the years and the store front first floor lost in blandness. Manning worked 10 hour days at this location until his death in 1930 at age 96.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Monday is Manningday

I spent a better part of this past Monday tracing the locations of Manning family homes and businesses throughout Rockport. What started out as a simple, self-imposed assignment about a small-time, small-town reed organ builder has become much more. The first complications were the repeated use of given names within the Manning family with no designations of Sr. or Jr. or II or III. This was true with the lady's names, as well. After composing a timeline and then receiving a genealogy from a distant Manning relative, much of that finally got sorted out in my mind. Yesterday, I came across another Manning - Bertha. Bertha Manning was a music teacher who boarded at the 2 Railroad Avenue residence and shop of William N. - 'my' guy. I shall have to check back through the genealogy because I don't recall seeing Bertha there!

Anyway, William Norwood Manning moved to Rockport with his family when he was 11 years old. They took up residence at the Manning Farm located on Nugent Stretch, the 'main' road from Gloucester to Rockport.Only the stone summer kitchen remains today and is open to the public, during the summer, as the Babson Museum. At the age of 14 William became a paid violinist for the Universalist Church in Rockport, about 2 miles from his home.

The entire Manning family became very intertwined in business deals with fathers, sons, and uncles as owners, partners, and shareholders. The family included doctors, lawyers, civil engineers, farmers, fishermen, dentists, inventors and musicians. The family was also involved in the manufacture of isinglass. William operated a storefront on Main Street (indicated by one red location on the map - you may have to click and enlarge to see the color indicators) were he specialized in jewelry, watches, piano-fortes, violins, and clocks...and in the repair of all of those. His business was in the easterly side of the store with a shoe store occupying the westerly portion. (After Mannings vacated the store, and probably no longer owned the building, the easterly half became the A&P Grocery store and the westerly half was devoted to Oker's Tailor Shop. Interestingly, in 1932, Mr. Oker was found murdered in his shop. Later, as a local woman was to testify as to the identity of the murderer, she was murdered and her residence set ablaze to cover the crime. These two murders have never been solved.) Sometime around the turn of the century (1900), William moved his residence and his retail and repair business to number 2 Railroad Avenue (see red on map) and remained there until his death in 1930 at age 96.

The Manning Organ Company was in production for about three years. It occupied the upper stories of the American Hide Seat Company factory in Millbrook Meadow (Mannings also held stock in that company as well as several others to follow in that location).(see red on map-Isinglass factory) When the organ company failed due to poor economic times, the equipment, patents, and organs were auctioned off. The building was then occupied by The Lawrence Spool and Bobbin Co., then the Russia Cement Co., and finally by Leander Haskin's Isinglass Company. That company moved in 1915 and the factory was deserted. It burned in July of 1932.
The present day site of the organ factory at Millbrook Meadow, now a town park.

The Mannings owned other properties in town and several will be noticed on the map in the general vicinity of Poole's Corner, the intersection of Main and Beach Streets. The Manning house on Beach Street was later joined with the house to it's north, becoming a large family complex. After the death of it's owners, the house became an inn under the name of Manning House until it was torn down in 1965 to build the 'new' "Captain's Bounty Motel".

So there's just a taste of what I've been up to. Tomorrow morning I hope to get to town early, before too many parked cars, and photograph William's original shop. Then I'll head to Railroad Avenue to photograph his last home and shop. It's been more difficult than expected finding the locations of these buildings. Not only have the streets been renumbered several times, the odds and evens have changed sides. Buildings have been added and some taken away. Many times the records of Rockport are conflicting!

I have found many interesting items in the six boxes of Manning family papers at the historical society, including Uncle Charlie Bolles Manning's first letter, written as a child, to his 'papa' about the escape and subsequent retrieval of his pet squirrel and a delightfully detailed drawing of the sailing vessel on which one of the elder doctors Manning served. I've yet to finish the boxes and also will be checking out the photo files. In addition, next Monday I hope to open up the Manning organ and photo the realization of some of W. N.'s patents.

For now, it's on to some writing of the article

Saturday, May 01, 2010

And Another One

Well, busy, busy, busy.

A new book has been added to the sidebar. "Overboard" by Michael Tougias. Same author that wrote, among others, "Ten Hours Until Dawn". This new (out in March) book is a riveting story of survival. I found the characters to not be as well developed as in previous books by Tougias and that, for me, took away a bit from the story. All in all, though, well worth the purchase and the reading. Would make me think twice about an overnighter at sea!

Also, here's a new painting."Seaside Farm", 16 X 20 in oils. Still not dry!
No check yet from the RAA on the two sold pieces. One more week and I'll be giving them a call.