Monday, January 31, 2011

The Birmingham World

I was doing research on a subject not long ago. I decided to go to the Birmingham Public Library
Archives division. It's located downtown, in the basement of the old library.

After getting the info I needed, I went back upstairs to the third floor in the old library. I use the term old because it is the original building but is still in use.

On the third floor in Microfilm I was able to view pages from The Birmingham World. This was THE Black paper in Birmingham before integration really took hold.

I was absolutely fascinated by what I was reading. I spent over two hours reading and ooohing and aaahing to myself on what I read.

This was a world all together different from the way things are today. There are pros and cons to today and yesteryears.
I couldn't believe that on the first page I viewed there was a picture of someone I knew. She is about 15-17 years my senior. She has since passed away. It was a picture of her being presented at the Debutante Ball. Debutante Balls usually allow well-to-do families to present their high school aged daughters to society. The caption told about her achievements, her goals, community service and clubs she was a member of.
The Debutante Ball was always a big deal. If I'm not uncertain it later became known as the Jr. Imperials. The paper I was viewing was from February, 1959.

I won't go into the class thing that was a part of the Colored, Negro, Black, African-American (I'll be using these words interchangeably throughtout my post) community. No doubt someone will offended by my usage of the above but well...

Below you will see some of the ads that were in the Birmingham World. I'm sorry for the glare but these were on microfilm and I wasn't about to pay 25cents for each photo.

I'm sure you've heard of A.G. Gaston. He was a Black millionaire here in Birmingham. Mr. Gaston owned a number of businesses. There was the Booker T. Washington Business College where many secretaries learned their trade along with business courses.

Though it was not listed as a bank the lay community viewed Citizens Federal Savings and Loan Association as such. I opened my first bank account here at the age of eight with a whopping $5.00. My Grandaddy and I rode the bus to get there. I kept that bank account and added to it up until I was 26 years old. Over the years I accumulated a tidy sum. So you can see that I learned at a early age to be "frugal."

There were few public lodging places for a person of color. The Gaston Hotel and Gaston Restaurant both located together. The Gaston properties were known to be the cream of the crop for Colored. Both of these businesses are now defunct. There had been talk of reviving the hotel since it is located just around the corner from the Birmingham Civil Rights Museum. During a stay by Dr. Martin L. King Jr. the hotel was bombed. Dr. King had left a short while before the explosion.
There was also Booker T. Washington insurance company and Smith & Gaston Funeral Service.
I am probably forgetting some of the businesses but these are the ones I remember.

I only remember the Carver and the Famous theatres. Some of the white theatres allowed Blacks but they had to sit in the balcony and/or come on certain days.
The Carver theatre is now the Jazz Hall of Fame.

Hair care Products
For more Posner hair care products click here.
I saw no end to ads for products such as these.

Just another name for petroleum jelly.
Moroline can also be found on E-bay.
I couldn't find any information about this product.
Stein's was not an African- American business but obviously they wanted the business so they placed an ad in a Af.Amer. newspaper. They were considered one of the better stores.
I'm thinking Steinmart which is here may have originated from this store.
I'm looking at the prices.
That's quite a lineup.

The American dream available to Black people in 1959.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fleecing Fool

Fleece is the most forgiving fabric I know of. Beginners as well as professional sewers can work with it easily. No need to finish edges and seams unless you want to. You're finished in a short amount of time.
Some years ago, I saw this fleece and fell in love with the horses and the green background.
Like many who sew, I was a collector and the fabric stayed in the closet for about two years.
Finally, I made this jacket. It's my favorite because it's soft,
warm, washable and easy care. I varied the pattern in that I added side pockets that weren't a part of the pattern. I believe that outerwear should always have pockets. I'd need a place for my car keys and wallet. One thing I did wrong was putting the buttons on the male side instead of the female side. So it buttons like a man's coat.

My neck gets cold sometimes so, I bought more fleece about three weeks ago. I'd lost the muffler I use with the horse fleece jacket so I bought a solid brown.
Though there was no need to finish the edges, I did place stay-stitching all around. I would need a guide when cutting the fringe and I wanted it to be as even as possible.
I had enough left over to make 2 more scarves which I gave to friends.

I went through the stash and found this navy blue piece that I'd bought ages ago. So now I have 2 that I've made. There will be more in coordinating colors.
I've become a Fleecing Fool.

Last year I did a couple of Christmas stockings for friends who are more into the holiday than I am. I enjoyed
making them and will probably do more throughout the year with a lot of scrap fabric I have.
I don't like for anything to go to waste.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Peanut Butter Cookies

I was snowed in and I just had to have something sweet. I checked out the fridge already knowing what I would find but thinking maybe I’d missed something and there was something I could throw together to get my“sugar high”. I opened the fridge and the same assortment met me that was there upon my previous inspection.

¼ bottle of champagne
browning lettuce
and some other stuff that didn’t go together.

Next stop, the pantry.
Aha! We have a *****WINNER*****!

Show me what you’re working with.

We've got the dregs of white sugar, brown sugar, one egg, peanut butter, vanilla.

Flourless peanut butter cookies
I had flour but I wanted it quick and easy.
Here's the recipe I used. It's from
Only 3 main Ingredients
Notice I have 5 ingredients. This was after consulting a few more recipes for the flourless cookies.

n 1 cup peanut butter
n 1 cup white sugar
n 1 egg

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).

2. Combine ingredients
and drop by teaspoonfuls on cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 minutes. ( Play the Jeopardy theme right here as you tap your nails on the counter)
Let cool. ( Still playing the Jeopardy theme) Recipe doesn't make very many, so you could double recipe as you desire.
George Washington Carver I could kiss you .

The History of Peanut Butter by Mary Bellis (quote taken from

"Agricultural chemist, George Washington Carver discovered three hundred uses for peanuts and hundreds more uses for soybeans, pecans and sweet potatoes. He start popularizing uses for peanut products including peanut butter, paper, ink, and oils beginning in 1880. The most famous of Carver's research took place after he arrived in Tuskeegee in 1896. However, Carver did not patent peanut butter as he believed food products were all gifts from God. The 1880 date precedes all other inventors except of course for the Incas, who were first. It was Carver who made peanuts a
significant crop in the American South in the early 1900's.”

NOTE: Rolling the dough around in your hands can be a little sticky so I used disposable gloves.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Bards and Brews

What is a Bard?
A bard is a storyteller, poet or musician. They may be called by other names in other cultures but their purpose is much the same.

I had the opportunity to attend my first Bards and Brews at the Birmingham Public Library. The event was free but artists were selling CD’s and there was a TIP cup.
Artists pay a $5.00 entrance fee to participate. Judges are volunteers from the audience. There are also scorekeepers in the background. There are 1-3 rounds with the winner taking the pot at the end of the evening.

Attendees are given two tickets upon arrival. These tickets are to be used for drinks. There were two beers to sample, SweetWater beer–Blue and Georgia Brown. Georgia Brown was a dark ale. I sampled it first. I liked it. No need to describe it the way connoisseurs do. I liked it and that was good enough for me.
It was my intention to sample the SweetWater beer–Blue on my second round but somehow I ended up with the dark ale again.
A library employee introduces acoustical guitarist, Matt Carroll.
Another library employee gives credit where credit it is due. She informs us that the program is made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Brian "Voice Porter" Hawkins is the emcee.

I can’t tell you the names of all of the performers or who won because I left early. I will tell you this. It was well worth my time.
Some of these poets were spitting rhymes so powerful, it made you want to stand and holler!
I'm looking to forward to First Friday next month.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Bean Pie aka Mock Pecan Pie

I’d heard over the years about bean pie . I’d never had it and there are few places around here that still sell it. It was very popular during the 70’s and various Black Muslim groups would sell it at their businesses and peddle it to other Mom and Pop businesses.

While away in college at an HBCU my brother would buy slices when the bean pie man came to their dorm late at night and they were hungry. Of course this was over 30 years ago. The college was out in the sticks, few students had cars, and the sidewalks of the city were pulled in by 6p.m.

The way I actually came upon the recipe is that I’d also heard about mock pecan pie. After finding that recipe it was pretty much the same as the bean pie recipe.
I used this recipe . There are variations to the recipe. Some use northern white beans,limas,blackeyed peas. Some add pecans to the top of the bean pie before cooking. (How can it still be mock pecan pie if it has pecans?) Since I wanted mine to look more like a pecan pie I used the pinto beans.

I placed the pintos into the food processor to be mashed.
No picture of the mashed beans. I found the photo somewhat disturbing. Unless you’re a fan of hummus you don’t want to see it.

I added all of the other ingredients and poured the mixture into a pie shell that I’d cooked for 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

The pie cooked for 60 minutes at 350 degrees. The kitchen smelled so delightful.

After removing it, I was amazed at the beautiful, golden brown ,color.

I allowed it to cool and then cut a slice.
It has more of a sweet potato pie taste. The seasonings were just right. The crust was just right. BUT, the filling had sort of a starchy or chalky quality to it. It was good but just not as smooth as I would have liked it. I plan to let my brother taste it and see what he says.
THIS JUST IN. Brother says the pie was good just a little too sweet. Other than that, it passes the test.