Murals at Spencer Penn Center

One of the nice things about living on the west side of Henry County is that it is very close to the Spencer Penn Center.  The Spencer Penn Center was an area school until sometime around 2004 when it was slated to be closed and was instead converted into a community center by local residents and alumni.

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The Spencer Penn Center

It really is a beautiful place with a baseball field out back, a paved walking trail, a “wild” walking trail, pretty gardens, lots of arts and exercise classes and a library.

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The Garden in front of Spencer Penn Center

There’s even a little free library out back by the playground and the baseball bleachers.

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Free Little Library, Playground and Bleachers at Spencer Penn

The walking path runs around the Mary Jordan Ball Field and is a good, level path.  This is a safe area where anyone can walk without fear and the quiet country surroundings mean that you are more likely to hear birdsong than cars.

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The Mary Jordan Ball Field

I’ve already blogged about the Charles & Rose Hylton Library there, though I didn’t mention that it has a active reading program for kids.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

And something else that rarely gets mentioned is their collection of beautiful murals.  Per Mary Jordan, Director of Spencer Penn, the murals are the work of Mt. Airy muralist Roger Carroll. The longest stretch of murals is a chronological storyboard that begins shortly before the office and ends at the end of the hallway just outside the auditorium.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

Light conditions in the hallway are not optimal for photography, so I’ve brightened these photos considerably.

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Hallway Mural and Spencer Penn

If there is a trick to getting better photos in a hallway with light constraints, I’m all ears.  I wouldn’t mind taking these photos over and over until I do them some justice.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

I don’t remember what was on the walls of the schools that I attended.  I grew up in Texas and I’m fairly certain that we just had single color brandings of our football team’s logo.

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

The history does end at the Civil War but, in fairness to Spencer Penn, the wall space ends there too.  I love the idea of the murals and I wonder what pieces of our history would have been selected if there had been room for more.  The Spanish American War, maybe.  Henry Ford, almost undoubtedly.  The moon landing. Would they have nodded to the tobacco industry? The textile or furniture industry? Which wars … WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf Storm, Iraq? Which people? Martin Luther King, Jr. is an easy choice.  What about Jonas Salk? The Suffragettes? Hemingway and the Lost Generation? It’s fascinating to me to think about. What and who contributes to the definition of “American” after 1864?

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Hallway Mural at Spencer Penn

But there is one mural at Spencer Penn that is my absolute favorite. The mural below of Spencer Penn “back in the day” is in what they call Alumni Hall.  Mary tells me that this is from a photo in the 1940 school annual.  The school kids and cars were possibly added. There is a lot of love in this painting and you can feel it. This is a big mural – maybe, say, eight feet tall or more.

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Gymnasium Mural at Spencer Penn

Spencer Penn is a vital community center and I hope that you give it a visit, even if it is just to their website.  There is always a membership drive on and they can always use funds.

For more information, please see the following links:

 

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A Little Love for the Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I love the local Spencer Penn Center.  There’s a lot there to love but one of my favorite parts is the Charles & Rose Hylton Library.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

I have a card at all of the local libraries but this one is my favorite.  I discovered Karen White’s “The Sound of Glass” here.  I also got started on Carol Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series here, reading “An Old-Fashioned Murder: A Moonshine Mystery“.

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

The thing to note about Carole Miller’s Moonshine Mystery series is that they are set here locally.  Moonshine is still a big thing around here but that’s another post for another time. I had just finished the first book in the series, “Murder and Moonshine“, over the weekend and decided to pop over to Spencer Penn to see if I could pick up “A Nip of Murder“, the second one in the series and the only one I have left to read. (They read fine out of order).

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The Charles & Rose Hylton Library

As I understand it, the library got its start with donations from local residents (and still actively receives a lot of donations).  That translates into a lot more Debbie Macomber novels than dusty classics which, to me, is a good thing.  (Nothing against the classics but there’s nothing wrong with exploring new novels either). These are books people have read because they wanted to rather than because they thought that they ought to, so there are a lot of good choices for fun reads.  The span of genres is pretty impressive too.

As it turned out, I got distracted by another book that’s been on my “to-read” list for awhile and completely forgot about the book that I was looking for.  “The Alice Network” is a historical novel about a female spy ring in WWI that was released this past June.

So I’ll have to wait to finish the Moonshine Murder series.  But I swear that I’ll read it next. (Full disclosure: That might not be true.  Anne Mott Davidson’s “Tough Cookie” has been flitting around my desk, under my desk, or near my desk for a week demanding to be read. )

P.S. There is usually a cart outside the door of the library with used books for sale.  I almost always browse the cart with the result that I have, at about any given time, a stack of books to read.  Paperbacks are fifty cents a piece. Hard backs are a dollar.

P.S.S. I also buy used books from Amazon with my Amazon points.  And those books will generally end up on the cart I mentioned above after I’ve read them.

P.S.S.S. There is also an adorable book store, Books & Crannies, in Uptown Martinsville that we try to visit occasionally because we want to support local businesses too and, well, it’s a bookstore.

My point is that that cart in front on the library is very active and I’m not the only reader around here that donates, buys, and checks out books on a regular basis. If you’re local, you should check it out.  And go inside and sign the visitor’s log.  You might leave with a new favorite author.

Are we friends on GoodReads?

my read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)

my to-read shelf:
Beth's book recommendations, liked quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (to-read shelf)

Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition

Every year, just before the leaves begin to make a serious effort to start changing (we’ve got about two more weeks for that), the community of Spencer throws an annual community fair.  2017 marked the 81st annual fair.  The local Ruritan Club Building opens its doors from 10 to 6, serving up huge bowls of Brunswick stew, plates loaded with fried chicken, and homemade desserts. Continue reading “Brunswick Stew – A Local Tradition”

Classic Car Crazy

I would love to see the numbers on how many classic cars there are in this area in relation to the number of living souls.  It seems that there is a classic car show at nearly every event, plus events called “Cruise Ins” that are just classic car shows on their own.  We had classic cars in Dallas but I just never noticed this level of enthusiasm there.  (I did once get a ride in a Model T, but that was a fluke).

The first big car show I saw here was at the 2015 Pig Cooking Contest at the Spencer Penn Centre. On Friday night, they have the actual cook off.  On Saturday, vendors are crammed all throughout the restored school house and spill out on the lawn and there is a car show out back.

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My husband loves the old trucks.

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He could spend hours looking at them.

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I’m a sucker for the old Fairlanes.

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The entire back parking lot was filled with classics and I thought that it was a big show.

After the Pig Cooking Contest, we headed over to Fieldale, which has a heritage festival annually on the same day.  There is an antique store there, Fieldale Antiques, that may be one of the prettiest buildings you’ll ever see.  Well, maybe the prettiest gas station. But, seriously, it is worth the trip just to see it.  It isn’t listed on TripAdvisor and it doesn’t have a web page.  You’ll just have to take a leap of faith.  They don’t have a lot of stock, or didn’t when we went.  In fact, it seemed more like odd items of local significance stored for another day.  In an esoteric way, it’s what you would get if you had an art gallery of antiques.  Very odd. Very eclectic. You’ll want to combine it with some other sightseeing to justify a trip of any length, but … do.

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Later that year, we went to the Blue Ridge Folklife Festival in Ferrum, Virginia.  A word about the scale of this festival:  the closest thing I can compare it to is the Dallas State Fair without the buildings or the midway.  The festival is phenomenal and completely redefined what is a “big” car show. It was a veritable sea of cars.

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The cars were lined up in row after row after row.  There must have been acres of cars.

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Some were in pristine condition.

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Others, not so much.

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We even found the same model my husband’s aunt used to drive when it was new.

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I couldn’t pick a favorite.

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I’m not sure what some of them were.

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Of course, my husband liked the trucks.

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I think that I like anything with fins.

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Whatever you like, I’ll bet it will be at the Folklife Festival.  So far, it seems to be the “granddaddy” of car shows around here.  This fascination with classic cars may be yet another reason that this is just an excellent area in which to retire.  A classic car enthusiast could follow classic cars here the way a live music junkie could follow music in Austin.

I’ll have to add that to my list.