Still Curious?

Sirmon Farms, Daphne, Alabama

Although, I have not lost my curiosity, *@$!&%’ COVID scared it some. So, what’s with the symbols instead of the swear? It’s got a name. It’s called a grawlix. The word was coined by Mort Walker, creator of the Beatle Bailey cartoon. Every darn spell checker turns it red, so I’m happy to have something the computers don’t have a clue about how to autocorrect.

On the subject of humans and computers, I’ve heard told we don’t always gee haw. Yeah, I learned this southernism from Art, our local planner, and yes, it means get along. Right is Gee, and Haw is left, and there’s some mule from 135 years ago who didn’t hear nothing, and so farmers started saying, “Me and this mule just can’t gee haw.”

As for the writing, the Birmingham Arts Journal published my essay, “The Flo of Old Fairhope” in August. If you just read it, and you live locally, you’ll realize that I have to rewrite the ending. Maybe to the tune of “Another One Bites the Dust.”

Libraries: Culture, History and Society just published my essay, “In a Foot of COVID-19 Clay Are the Feats of Library Writing Communities.”

I’ve been happily cranking out copy for Fairhope Living magazine. The October issue has the historic hotels of Fairhope’s past. It was a cool article to write, similar format to the street history. Also enjoyed getting to know Jenny Resmondo of South Alabama Physiotherapy. November has the Gaston and Mershon family history and a home on Coleman Avenue. December has a story of how a pole barn becomes a retirement home and the Knoll Park Christmas tradition.

Hope everyone’s alright out there. Stay curious and keep creating. At this blogging rate, the best of 2021 list will be next. Happy Halloween.

What’s in the Box?

I have been moving some prosthetic leg parts around my garage for over a decade. I have donated many legs to Limbs for Life, but I found myself not willing to let go of some of them. Until now! A few weeks ago, I reached out to Bruce Larsen, a Fairhope sculptor and Hollywood special effects guy. My friend Wayne Miller told me Bruce presented at a recent Fairhope Single Tax Corporation meeting about a work of art he would create if commissioned to do so. Bruce had the idea to source local objects for the new piece. From there, it was an easy decision to give my leg parts to Bruce. When he came by to pick it up, he snapped this picture of me. The box includes sockets, liners, feet, carbon fiber, silicone liners, resin epoxy, titanium hardware. I even threw in some electronics, a vacuum system called V-Hold made by Hanger, which pulled air out of the socket to keep my stump securely in the socket. I told Bruce a few stories about the legs and a particular foot made by College Park. I was impressed when he said he catalogs all the items he finds or is given. He didn’t say where, how, or if the parts would be used, and honestly I didn’t expect him to. We agreed to stay in touch, and one day, I’ll hear from him and learn where my parts went. I’m always amazed at where life takes me and my prosthetic legs. Now I’m looking forward to finding out where the parts take the artist.

Seahorse by Bruce Larsen and John Rezner. Funded by Fairhope Educational Enrichment Foundation

Want to go for a Walk?

I launched my new venture Fairhope by Foot in May. Look for this postcard around town soon.

Have you Seen it?

My photo of Cecil Christenberry’s old Chevy is in the latest issue of Fairhope Living. Lots of cool treats in our July edition!

Are you Magnet-ic?

Check out the latest Clay City Tile post! The latest blog, thanks to Parker Gray and his amazing family collection, is a treasure trove of historic documents and images of Fairhope’s Magnet Theater (burned, 2010). The post has some fantastic images of the 1924 theater, including the building’s blueprints, snapshots taken during construction, and more!

What’s Going On?

Photo by Kris

On the heels of the April walking tours, I’ve finally started Fairhope by Foot! Beginning in May, I will be leading walking tours for small groups of tourists and locals who are interested in learning more about Fairhope’s unique past. I’m just beginning, but my word of mouth marketing plan is working. I booked my first tour this week! Some bank executives conferencing here wanted a fun afternoon outing.

Photo by Kris

The May issue is due any day now. Click or tap the logo above. Read the magazine in your browser or download the magazine to your device.

No photo description available.

So stoked about leading another creative writing workshop at the Eastern Shore Art Center on Saturday, May 15, from 10 am to 2 pm. All the details are here. Also, be on the lookout for my first Creative Writing Camp for Kids at the Eastern Shore Art Center this summer.

Is There a Best of 2020? What’s Up for 2021? Remember Steve?

Now that we are well into the new year, I’m posting my best of 2020. It’s a short list. The best book of 2020 is a fellow Pensters Writing Group member.  

Little Gears of Time: Martinello, Susan, Walker, Sue Brannan, Krchak,  Jenni: 9780942544060: Amazon.com: Books

Looking for a sweeping generational women’s epic written in verse by a woman? Little Gears of Time, by Susan Martinello is a literary tour de force, an epic of the American story from a woman’s perspective. Based on Martinello’s family, it is Homerian in its breadth and language and is an odyssey of mothers and daughters spanning many generations and taking place between continents and across oceans.

With family trees, maps, and illustrations as our guides, Martinello tightly winds mothers and daughters using personification, letters, history and memoir with a watch, an artifact that comes to represent oppression, imagination and identity.

In Martinello’s exquisite and affective poems we embrace, are emboldened and empathize with these women. As with other great epic’s the world is a stage and as the characters and their experiences play out Martinello’s writing leaves readers yearning for more.  

And of course in a special category is Stump’s Favorite Amputee book.

The Elephant's New Shoe: Neme, Laurel, Wildlife Alliance, Landy, Ariel,  Landy, Ariel: 9781338266870: Amazon.com: Books

The Elephant’s New Shoe: A True Rescue Story, by Laurel Neme, Illustrated by Ariel Landy, Foreword by Nick Marx

While these books are fantastic I was proud to publish three books of my own last year. Available to read for free are The Cape Cod House and Architectural Studies: Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and Bayside Academy. I’m very pleased with the success of Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. It’s a local history book that I enjoyed writing and continue to research. I have another order of Clay City books arriving later this month. I post news and information here

 

2021

You probably didn’t even notice, but I’ve deleted my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. This is not political. It’ personal. I don’t like calling it a New Year’s resolution, but after deactivating several times last year and not missing it or the anxiety that goes along with it, I’ve deleted the accounts. Hopefully, it will work as well as last year’s food choices. Except for a few weak moments during the pandemic and after the hurricanes, we have been able to stick with and really embrace our new menus. As Sue says, “If it walks on land we don’t eat it.” Even though I’m no longer on social media I’d love to hear from you. Send me an email, Want to talk? I’m not hard to find online or in person. Feel free to share my writing with your followers. Instead of posting on social media, I typed a thank you note to the mayor. On paper. Using my Royal Quiet De Luxe typewriter. I put it in an envelope, slapped a stamp on it and put it in the mail. I will be doing more of it in 2021.  

Fairhope Living Magazine January 2021 Cover

Career-wise, I’m still working at Coastal Alabama Community College and writing for the monthly community magazine, Fairhope Living. I’m thankful to serve students face-to-face and glad to have the opportunity to write about my home town.

Remembering Steve

Today is the second anniversary of my brother Steve’s death. It’s rare that a day goes by that I don’t think about him. Here’s to Steve. Nostrovia! To your Health in 2021.   

Early 1990s, West Falmouth, MA.
Also early 90s. Mom and Dad’s place on Edgewater Dr. W. in East Falmouth.
McSharry’s Irish Pub, mid 2010s. I had a Guinness. Steve, Take the Causeway, Fairhope IPA.

What’s Happening in November?

The debut issue of Fairhope Living will be arriving in your mailbox soon! The free print version, with three articles written by yours truly, is being mailed to more than 10,000 Fairhope residences. 

Fairhope Living Magazine November 2020 Cover

In the meantime, visit the website for more information or click on the cover to view the interactive digital version of the magazine. The digital version includes cool embedded links to websites, videos, and even a virtual home tour, a project done by Coastal Alabama Community College animation students. 

This is Alodia Arnold’s Fairhope Living. This Organic-Schooled Fairhoper and mom dreamed, created, sacrificed, and conquered the 2020 challenges to make her dream come true. I am so proud and thankful for Alodia and our team including Laura Miller, Stephen Savage, Susan Beeco, and Chris Riley. I’m excited, honored and humbled to be a part of Fairhope Living. This is Fairhope’s magazine, and we welcome new sponsors (advertisers) and contributors (writers/photographers/creatives). We’d love to read, see, or hear your first impressions on the print or digital editions, so please comment below or find us on Facebook or Instagram

Pensters Writing Group Zoom-November 14 

I’m also excited about talking to the Pensters Writing Group. The online meeting via Zoom is from 10:00-noon. As the Vice President, I’m honored to be the featured speaker this month. After COVID cancelled me in May, I’m looking forward to talking about the reader, writer, and librarian connection. Our meetings are open to the public. If you want to join us, leave an email below in the comments and I will send you the meeting link. 

Page and Palette Holiday Open House-November 22, 2020 

I’ll be hanging out with my friend, author, and fellow Fairhoper Leslie Anne Tarabella at Page and Palette’s Holiday Open House. I will be there from 3-5 pm, selling my 2020 book on a local building block called Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope. Copies of Stump the Librarian will be for sale too. Leslie Anne will be there all afternoon selling copies of her latest book Exploding Hushpuppies, the second collection of her newspaper columns. In the meantime, watch a video about Clay City Tile by local filmmaker Michael Marr.   

Thanksgiving 

The last week is for giving thanks. In this weird and wacky year being thankful has never been so important. Thank you for being you, and as always, thank you for reading.  

Clay City Tile, Fairhope Living, and Valentino

Cover

My new book is out! Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope, is a local history book. It’s about the Brown Family and how their company Clay Products Inc., and their clay building block is built into Fairhope’s history. It’s technically not a new book, but I used the Safer at Home order to update and rewrite the introduction. It’s heavily footnoted and illustrated, which means fans of local history,  historic buildings, and people just curious about how Clay City Tile was made and used will find the details fascinating. P&PsignZeke

Please join me for a signing at Page and Palette on Saturday August 8, at 1 PM. Books are $9.99. Stop by and say hi. If you have a Clay City Tile home or story, I’d enjoy hearing about it.

ClayCityAlan

The book is for sale at Tom Jones Pottery, the only retailer at Clay City, and through Amazon. If you’d like to purchase my book in person but can’t make it Saturday, there is a third option.

I’ll be at the Safe Trade Zone in front of the Fairhope Police Department on Saturday August 22, at 11 AM.

Also, look for a short video of me pitching the book on a Fairhope Public Library book talk later in August. I’ve shared some Clay City Tile history that is not in the book.

If you want more information about the book or Clay City, visit my website, Clay City Tile.

Fairhope Living

I’m thrilled to be part of a new Fairhope publication! Fairhope Living magazine is the brainchild of Fairhoper Alodia Arnold. She successfully launched the first N2 Publishing magazine in Pensacola, Florida. The first issue will be published in October! Check out our Facebook page for updates.  

Valentino the Goat

Click on the photo to read Valentino’s Alabama leg-end by Michelle Matthews at AL.com.

Valentino is currently getting acclimated to his new prosthetic leg. (Photos courtesy Serenity Animal Farm)

What Have You Been Doing?

Whether it’s an entry into a journal, a note about a book I’m reading, or revision, revision, revision, writing is my passion, hobby, profession, and most important these days, a distraction.

With that in mind I want to share some writerly news.

I’ve recently completed two eBooks, well eBooklets really, and they are available for free through links in Internet Archive. Architectural Studies is my undergraduate work on building surveys for Montgomery Hill Baptist Church and the Bayside Academy Administration Building. Those projects are combined in one book.

ArchStudiesCover

The second book, The Cape Cod House, An Architectural Study, traces the origins of the Cape Cod style house dating back to the late 1600s to it’s proliferation in the 1950s. CapeCodCover

I’m proud of my scholarship. The books are for fans of local history, architectural history, and historic preservation. You can read them online and download them for free through Internet Archive. Yes, FREE. They will also be available to borrow soon from the Fairhope Public Library. If you prefer your own print copy, I’m selling them myself for the low, low, direct-from-the-author’s hatchback price of $5. For distant fans, or if you prefer the speed of Print-on-Demand, the books are available for purchase on Amazon for $9.99. Readers, not sales, make me rich! So write a review to let me know how your heart raced a little when you skipped down the page toward those tantalizing…footnotes.

Another Book (not free, but very reasonable)

Have you ever wondered about the orange block structures and houses around Fairhope? Or perhaps you know about them but want to learn more. Well, soon you will wonder no more.

My book Clay City Tile: Frank Brown and the Company that Built Fairhope will be out in July! People have called me the “Clay City Tile guy” for a while, so I’m finally getting around to publishing it. It’s local history, which I enjoy. I’ve posted a few photographs (not in the book) on the book’s website Clay City Tile.

Stay tuned for updates about the Clay City Tile book on the above website and right here at Stump the Librarian!

Research

Of course, I’m always doing research. Lately, I’ve gone down the letterhead rabbit hole. I’ve found all kinds of great Fairhope letterhead at the Fairhope Single Tax Online Archive. Of course, anything can be used as letterhead these days. I’ve been using the Bank of Fairhope. It’s kind of cool, and it surprises me that with all the banks in Fairhope (26?), no one thought to resurrect one, the best one in fact, from Fairhope’s past.

BankofFHFHPL

Incidentally, The Bank of Fairhope’s second location, which became the Press-Register building and is currently Christmas Around the Corner, was built in 1927. It is scored stucco over…you guessed it, Clay City Tile.

Odds and ends

RoyalReview

New Typewriter, it’s a sickness really, but at least I’ve got the ten fingers for it. Er, well, that’s five per typewriter now.

Stumpcoverfun (2)

People have been taking photos of themselves in book covers. How could I resist!

Oh, I almost forgot Summer Camp. I’m leading a Creative Writing workshop for writers ages 10 and up at the Eastern Shore Art Center. My Creative Writing Summer Bash takes place July 13-17! Join me if you can. It’s going to be super fun!