Grammar, Semantics, Theory and Tangents

Readers, if you have not been following the commentary on Monday’s post of Preservation Grammar: Historic v. Historical, I recommend you do! What started as a simple post have led to discussions on linguistics, terminology in the field, relevance to archaeology and more. Chime in; it’s fun!

To those already discussing, keep it going! Thanks for the debates and lessons so far.

The Nerve of Amazon

On Saturday December 10, 2011, Amazon offered customers $5 off a $100 purchase if they walk into a store, scan the price with a mobile phone app (to provide the info to Amazon) and then leave the store without buying the item. Read about the deal here and here.

Essentially, Amazon is bribing people to do their market research. And it’s a horrible way for Amazon to undercut competitors. Worse, it’s a cruel way by which Amazon can undercut all brick-and-mortar stores. Locally owned business, as always, stand to suffer the most from this stunt.

While online shopping is one debate, Amazon shopping is an entirely different debate. Amazon cannot and does not support and give back to communities. If everyone bought everything online, where would people work? How would people interact in communities? Shopping is an integral part of daily life (this includes grocery shopping, the hardware store, books, bicycle tires, tools, toys, clothes – you name it), and if that part were to vanish from all of our communities, where would we be?

Sure you can argue the free market economy and capitalism and business strategies. Go ahead. However, just because these giant conglomerates of businesses are typical for today’s world, does not mean it’s the best way of living. I have shopped on Amazon many times, but I’m pretty sure that article was the last straw for me. Thankfully, I did not do any of my Christmas shopping via Amazon.

I like the way this article from Gawker balanced the issues at hand:

By all means use Amazon – they have amazing selection! – but there’s no need to be a tacky jerk to your neighborhood store in the process. Unless that store is a Wal Mart, Target, or American Apparel, in which case go to town (by which we mean, go out of town).

Has anyone else heard about this ploy? How do you feel about Amazon?

Preservation Photos #110

Directional sign in the village of South Newfane, VT.

In Vermont you can find white road signs like those above and brown wooden (seemingly hand carved) road signs among the modern era green directional signs.

Preservation Grammar: Historic v. Historical

The grammar topic for today: When it is correct to use “historic” or “historical”?

How often do you come across “historical preservation” as opposed to “historic preservation?” I see this quite often, whether casually or in presentations. If you consider the laws and the basis for the field, the proper term is “historic” not “historical”. For all other purposes, what’s the difference?I found the best explanation I’ve seen so far via Grammar Girl.

You can read Grammar Girl’s response or listen to the podcast about Historic v. Historical here. In brief, historic is something significant to our past whereas historical is something that is old and not necessarily important. If you think back to the Old House v. Historic House discussion, you’ll recall that historic means significant. Significant means that a building, structure, object, district or site is eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Old is simply old and not important or significant.

Now, how to remember this? From Grammar Girl:

William Safire said something that might help you remember the difference: “Any past event is historical, but only the most memorable ones are historic” (3). I’ve also created an odd memory trick to help you: You can remember the meanings of these two words by thinking that “ic” is “important,” and they both start with i, and “al” is “all in the past,” and those both start with a.

Why does this matter? Should you correct people who say historical preservation as opposed to historic preservation? (You should if it’s an appropriate occasion only.) Think of it this way: historical preservation leans toward the stereotype of “saving everything” as opposed to preserving, documenting, incorporating the significant (i.e. historic) elements of the past.

What do you think?

Go Annie!

Preservation in Pink is breaking form today to congratulate my sister Annie, a member of the USA Skeleton Team. Today she finished in 2nd place at the World Cup Race in La Plagne, France. This is her first podium finish, her best finish ever AND to top that off, she broke the start record for this track.

Follow Annie’s progress this 2011-2012 season by finding her athlete page on Facebook. The other sisters and I are posting race updates, links to articles and how to watch Annie’s races.  For the most recent race in France, head over to FIBT Live TV. For Run 1, find “Women’s Skeleton – 1st Run, La Plagne, France.” Watch the beginning for a head first view of what a skeleton/bobsled track is like. Find Annie’s run at about 24:20 in the video. For Run 2, find “Women’s Skeleton – 2nd run, La Plagne, France.” She comes up around 46:25. This run is where she breaks the start record.

Annie O'Shea (USA) in 2nd, Mellissa Hollingsworth (CAN) in 1st, Katie Uhlaender (USA) in 3rd.

Congratulations, Annie! We’re all so proud!

Ruminations on a Small Town

By Elyse Gerstenecker

Now that I have departed Southwest Virginia for sunny Florida and have had time to reflect on my experience there, one of my greatest regrets is dismissing the small town of Glade Spring as an option for my home. When I first moved to the area, I largely focused on finding an apartment in Abingdon, the town where I worked, and preferably one in a historic building. On an early apartment-hunting trip to the area with my mother prior to starting my position, my soon-to-be co-worker suggested looking into Glade Spring, which is nearby. Not having had much success in Abingdon, we drove to the town, which my mother promptly pronounced “that shabby little town” (a descriptor that soon substituted for the town’s actual name). I am ashamed to admit it, but I wholeheartedly agreed. Little did I know that the town was on the verge of a major revitalization project and that I would soon become friends with many of those involved.

Glade Spring Town Square. Photo by Elyse Gerstenecker.

Glade Spring lies in the lower Valley of Virginia, along the most easily traversed path through the Appalachian Mountains. This area witnessed the migration of people south from cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia along the Great Wagon Road, a travel route that followed previous paths established by Native Americans, as well as the development of railroads along this same route. The town truly became established after the Virginia and Tennessee railroad built a depot in 1856, allowing passengers to travel to the area to see the springs and take advantage of what were thought to be its curative powers.

In 1918, the state road leading from Bristol to Roanoke and running near Glade Spring was connected to the state road from Roanoke to West Virginia, and this road became part of the enormous US Route 11 in 1926. US Route 11 ran from upstate New York (and continued in Canada) to New Orleans, Louisiana and was one of many US roads that served as popular routes for motoring tourists from the 1930s until the 1960s, when the interstate system was developed.

Again, because of the lack of available alternatives in this region, US Interstate 81 largely follows the path of US 11 in Southwest Virginia, but unlike US Route 11, bypasses many of the small towns of the region, albeit often very closely. For Glade Spring and other towns, the introduction of the interstate and concurrent closure of passenger rail service signaled the end of an era of tourism and the economy it supported. Much of Glade Spring has been in a state of downfall since the 1960s (and probably longer), thus my mother’s designation of “that shabby little town” was not entirely incorrect.

However, the dedication of a group of citizens, led by Project Glade, has transformed the central square of this small town into a business center. The group’s stated goal is to “promote for Glade Spring, VA sustainable development that relies on the town’s traditions and on the innovations as it engages a dedicated citizenry in the improvement of community life.” The evolution of the square was underway before I moved to Southwest Virginia but really began to show in the following years.

Coburn Creative, a graphic design group led by now mayor Lee Coburn, anchors the square with a thriving business centered on creativity. Salon on the Square, operated by Coburn’s partner Melissa Dickenson, is next door and showcases the creativity of the pair. You do not typically see hair salons this cool in small towns, let alone Southwest Virginia. The pair live with their daughter above their businesses, demonstrating their dedication to this town. Improvements such as new sidewalks and lighting began prior to my move in 2008. Surber & Sons, a hardware store/anything-you-could-possibly-think of store, was already established, as was the Carolina Furniture Company and the Arise Community Center. The largest improvement in the town square has been the new Glade Spring branch of the Washington County Public Library. The library formerly occupied a tiny church, but, with Project Glade taking up the cause, the WCPL system and Project Glade raised enough funds to renovate an old corner grocery store on the town square into a beautiful new library to serve the town’s residents, and it opened in early 2011.

Glade Spring Half Church. Photo by Elyse Gerstenecker.

Before my departure in February 2011, I enjoyed great food from the Town Square Diner, a new greasy-spoon style diner also located on the square. MADE, which opened in 2010, has presented Glade Spring with another great business opportunity. This small boutique showcases handmade items created by members of the Glade Spring community and surrounding areas, and the owners encourage crafters to come by and work on projects in-store. Building a town center based on creativity, if not an overall sense of quirkiness, highlights the community’s unique character and serves the basic needs of the town while attracting visiting types like me who delight in finding one-of-a-kind handmade jewelry and flower pins at MADE, browsing the shelves of Surber & Sons (a veritable cabinet of curiosities), buying local produce at the farmer’s market, or eating cheese fries while getting a haircut at a great salon.

With Emory & Henry College so close, I cannot help but think that these kinds of businesses will see patronization, with a little encouragement, from the local student population. The town now hosts Movie Nights and music concerts in the square. Plans are in the works for transforming a beautiful but decaying bank in the square into an artisan’s workshop (the craft culture in Southwest Virginia is hugely important) as well as addressing some issues of buildings that have become so decrepit that they are beyond repair. I am not unaware of the fact that Glade Spring has a long way to go, and that many more adventurous, creative entrepreneurs like Coburn and Dickenson are needed to make the town successful, even beyond the square, but this is a promising start. It is truly beautiful, as a historic preservationist, to see a community take on this type of challenge with this much dedication and enthusiasm. I now wish that I had the foresight back in 2008 to move to this town and become a participant in this wonderful, extraordinarily welcoming, and often hilariously quirky community.

Sadly, Glade Spring suffered a setback on April 28, 2011. The same weather system that generated the record-setting, massive tornado in Tuscaloosa, Alabama set off an F-1 tornado in Glade Spring directly along the path of Interstate 81, virtually destroying a truck stop and flinging trailers along the highway like toys, combusting houses into piles of rubble, heavily damaging many other homes and businesses, terminally damaging several historic buildings, and killing three people. The county’s request for FEMA funding for Glade Spring was denied, despite appeals, and fundraising efforts to help homeowners and businesses continue. While this community has not suffered the devastation of Tuscaloosa or Joplin, Missouri, it has also not received the publicity or awareness that these cities have. The town is also located in a traditionally poor area of our country. Those interested in supporting Glade Spring and Washington County’s recovery efforts can make donations to United Way of Russell and Washington Counties, through which all funds go directly toward the cause. For more information, please see http://www.rcwunitedway.org.

National Park Service’s Teaching With Historic Places: USS Arizona

The US Military wears the flag flying this way ("backwards" most of us would say) so it always looks like they are moving forward.

December 7 is the remembrance of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

USS Arizona. Image source: NPS Teaching with Place. Click for source link.

To learn about Pearl Harbor, try visiting the National Park Service’s webpage called, “Teaching with Places Historic Lessons Plans:  Remembering Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial.” You find maps, a brief history lesson, and historic images. Start here with the historical context:

The attack on Pearl Harbor thrust the United States into World War II. The attack had significant and far-reaching political effects on the United States, changing the minds of many who had been philosophically opposed to war or who had taken a passive stance towards the war in Europe. The increasing diplomatic confrontations and economic sanctions against Japan by the United States and others, compounded by Japan’s undeclared war in China and the weakening of European control in Asian colonies, precipitated the war in the Pacific. The Japanese felt that the time was opportune to conquer British, American, French, Chinese, and Dutch territories in Southeast Asia. This belief pushed militaristic factions in Japan to provoke war with the United States. Fearing that the United States Pacific Fleet would pose a formidable obstacle to Japanese conquest of Southeast Asia, Admiral Isoruko Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Combined Fleet, visualized a bold attack on the Pacific Fleet while it lay at anchor at Pearl Harbor. Such a surprise strategical attack, bold and daring in its execution, would, he believed, secure the Pacific.

Teaching with Historic Places is a part of the NPS’ Heritage Education Services. In a nutshell, “Teaching with Historic Places (TwHP) uses properties listed in the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places to enliven history, social studies, geography, civics, and other subjects. TwHP has created a variety of products and activities that help teachers bring historic places into the classroom.”

Browse for lesson plans and interesting information, even if you are simply teaching yourself. Thanks for the resource, NPS!

Preservation Photos #109

A rare snowfall in Southern Pines, NC, as seen from the streets of the historic downtown in January 2009.

Christmas Shopping

Happy December! Merry Christmas preparations: tree choosing, house decorating, snowflake wishing, cookie baking, present buying, family & friends – what could be better? It’s the best time of the year!

Around the internet you’re sure to see gift guides for all, suggestions for shopping, tips for finding the best deals or coming up with creative gifts. What may be the best tip: shopping locally, of course! By shopping local you can find those creative, unique gifts for all, have a good time, enjoy the local events, support your local economy: the benefits are endless.

Back in 2008, probably before many of you readers were following Preservation in Pink, I wrote a series of Christmas shopping posts called “Christmas Shopping Considerations,” discussing the options for Christmas shopping (online, retail, local, eccentric) and the impacts of our decisions (financially, socially, preservation-esque).

Christmas Shopping Consideration #1: Avoid Big Box Retailers

Christmas Shopping Consideration #2: Can You Shop Locally?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #3: The Case of Online Shopping?

Christmas Shopping Consideration #4: Gifts for the Historic Preservationist in Your Life

Need another couple of good links to get you started on #4?

5 Christmas Gifts for Heritage Lovers

Holiday Gift Guide  (from the National Trust)

Abandoned Vermont: Putney Stone Arch Bridge

Abandoned buildings are usually what catches my attention, but there are other structures to remember. Many bypassed or “abandoned” bridges remain across the state, such as this one in East Putney.

You might miss this bridge if you are not walking on the side of the road.

Another view from the road. The foliage of the spring and summer months probably hides this view.

Side view.

Under the stone arch.

View up to the roadbed. Note the quarry marks on the stone.

Stone arch bridges are often found on bypassed roads or low traffic rural roads. They represent a different era of construction and different set of knowledge for engineers and bridge builders of today. Sadly, these bridges often cannot handle our modern traffic loads and are removed or ignored.

This Putney bridge is not very visible from the road, but it appears to be near a small park and recreational trail. From what I know, the people of Putney appreciate this bridge (or at least some people do).

James Otis Follett, a Vermont engineer and mason, constructed this bridge in 1902, one of about 40 bridges throughout Vermont. This bridge was bypassed in 1965 for a straighter road alignment. The bridge is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Read its nomination here for additional history and significance information.