Archive | Made in the USA RSS feed for this section

You Have HOW Many Salt & Pepper Shakers?

13 Mar

Just 20,000 or so sets. Is that unusual?

Vegetable Salt & Pepper Shakers

Vegetable Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

The Salt & Pepper Shaker Museum in Gatlinburg, TN is must-see. Why, exactly?

  1. Because everything else in Gatlinburg in woefully touristy, neon-y, and kitschy.
  2. Because you had no idea that salt and pepper shakers were made in so many styles.
  3. Because there are walls dedicated to themes: fruits, bears, birds, & basic pillars.
  4. Because when someone takes the time to collect 20,000 of something, you should stop in and take a gander. I mean, seriously.
Southern Belle Salt & Pepper Shakers

Southern Belle Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

One of a Kind
This is the only S&P museum in the world (no surprise, there).

The woman who owns the collection started it because she was amused by how something so simple garners so much attention and personality. Good point.

Many sets were collected by the owner, but once word got out, even more were given as gifts and sent from people around the world. The kindness of strangers: Red Cross aid and Salt & Pepper contributions…

Bee Salt & Pepper Shakers

Bee Salt & Pepper Shakers Photo Courtesy of the Museum Website

Musings on Collecting
A collection says something about the collector; and the culture that inspires it.

Interested in other quirky collections I’ve found on my travels? Check out

What do you collect? Where do you find your pieces? What started the collection?


Goats, Kudzu, and Rotted Wood Walk into a Bar…

5 Mar

Bick wall, hole in the wall, Goat Farm Atlanta

…there’s no punchline. Becuase there’s no joke.
Not really surprised, are you?

What’s incredible, though, is how these three come together and create compelling space. Yes, I said “compelling.”

Humans flock to the Goat Farm in industrial Atlanta for the cool, run down buildings aside the train tracks. Photo clubs (like mine) are in heaven. Funky weddings, trendy businesses, clever adjectives paired with benign nouns.

That Was Then, This Is Now
Once a cotton gin, there are 12 dilapidated buildings on the 12 acre property. Crumbling brick; facades overgrown with kudzu (the fastest growing plant in the South that’s practically un-killable); broken windows; rotted wood. Basically a dream come true…as long as you’ve had your tetanus shot.

Now it’s glory for artists, and goats. Becuase they go together like peanut butter and jelly. I didn’t know why it was called the goat farm until I actually stumbled upon some goats. That part is rather hidden despite being the namesake and all.

Americana the Beautiful
Places like this, tucked away where you don’t expect to find them, are the lore of Americana. History and production. Creativity and productivity. Turning a space inside out. It’s American. It’s Beautiful.

What spaces have you discovered – in your hometown or on the road?

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

Is this the Tackiest Place on Earth?

24 Feb

South of the Border Welcome sign, South CarolinaSince I haven’t been to every single place on Earth I can’t attest as to whether South of the Border  in South Carolina is in fact the tackiest place, but it certainly would make a Top Ten list.

Oasis or Quagmire of Kitsch?
They call themselves a “highway oasis.” Well, it is, something.

In fact it’s a collection of shops full of kitchsy crap like fake poo, oversized pencils, tshirts with ridiculous sayings, shotglasses with every conceivable animal adornment, and anything else you can think of. It’s the kind of stuff that’s usually not Made in America and surely must make those factory workers wonder what is wrong with Americans for wanting all this crap.

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
BTW – these are the only pics on this post that I took. See the Disclaimer below for more details.

style=”display: block; width: 425px; margin: 0 auto;”>Vodpod videos no longer available.

Step Away from the Snarkiness
All that sarcasm aside, South of the Border is WONDERFUL! I called high school friend Regina the. very. second. I. arrived. Why? Because the absurd oversized fiberglass animal “statues” were a delight! And the neon, oh the neon.

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Are we there Yet?
There’s no missing South of the Border. Billboards line the roads for miles – like hundreds of miles. They’re funny, goofy, even dorky. Bless their hearts.

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Even Tacky is Rooted in History
This, um, destination, started as a beer store south of the North Carolina border, which was home to dry counties (dry means alcohol-free; by law). And once the romping began, things exponentiated into this “wonderland.”

Only a fraction of these photos are mine. Driving solo, I couldn’t take pics of the billboards. And once there I truly had too much fun playing to take the time to photograph. Plus, it was too hot and there were too many people. So thank you Flickr and your contributors for capturing memories for me and for sharing the experiences with you fine readers.

City Girl Takes to the…City

20 Feb

Fairlie Poplar photo walk, Atlanta, iron awning, architecture, photographySometimes the only escape you need is from the house. Same city, practically same neighborhood, but with a whole new perspective.

The photo club took a walk through a downtown neighborhood, the Fairlie Poplar district of Atlanta. Looking at architecture, street flotsam and jetsam, and people’s interaction with space.

We ran across a chess game in the park, abandoned buildings, reflections in glass and of Atlanta’s growth.

There were photo walks around the world on this same weekend: 1,118 of them!

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Fairlie Poplar, posted with vodpod

A Road Trip to See…Cars?

15 Feb

Old Car City, White GA, rusted cars, junkyardThe photo club took a field and trip and what a wonderful one it was! Old Car City in White, GA is home to acres of rusted cars and car parts, with trees and vines growing over and through them. Pollen that stuck to the windows left patterns once it was washed away by rain. Details and the whole. Both so compelling.

We know I have a thing for rust. Not sure why…

Are junkyards particularly American? We certainly find them fascinating–they’re the stuff of lore with ferocious dogs. And now tv shows abound. Perhaps it’s the possibility of a find. The reality that one girl’s trash is another girl’s treasure (a friend used to throw a dating party in our 20’s with that name: bring a guy you aren’t dating and hope to find someone else’s platonic friend attractive to you!).

Want to go yourself? Call ahead. We had to arrange a time and paid a $10 fee. Does everyone have to do that or only sucker photographers who will do anything for rust and dappled light?

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.
Vodpod videos no longer available.

Old Car City, posted with vodpod

Now Wait Just One Cotton Pickin Minute

7 Sep

Cotton tshirtsWhile driving through the Mississippi Delta I discovered that cotton fields are worth pulling over to the side of the road. And getting your feet so stuck in the mud that you truly can’t move your feet. I mean, they weren’t going ANYWHERE. Finally after a great slurping sound there was freedom. And then stuck again. Sigh.

Back to cotton—it’s even so inspiring that you opt to leave Mississippi (can you believe it?) and drive over the state line to Memphis to go to the Cotton Museum, which is fascinating.

Cotton is first a flower, then the boll, then ball. The cycle of life takes 14 weeks. Seeds: large. Cotton: stringy and coarse. The boll holds it like a bloom in a nutshell.

A bale is 500 pounds; it also translates to 681,000 cotton balls or 215 pairs of jeans. The book The Jungle wrote about how everything was used of the pig but the squeal. The same holds true for cotton: medicine, oil, cleanser, oh, and fabrics.

Cotton and the Blues go together because of sharecropping and its undelivered promise of independence. It also bred the middle class: mechanizing farm machinery created an even bigger gap between plantation owner and laborer.

Which crop has inspired you to pull over to get a closer look?

Can’t see the slideshow? Click here.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Cotton, posted with vodpod

A BBQ Mecca

2 Sep

Abes BBQ signAbe’s BBQ in Clarksdale, MS is a religious experience for many; I am obviously of another faith. It’s tangy, which isn’t a word I like under any circumstance, but definitely not with my brisket. That aside, the history was rich, the service charming, and the experience well worth the stop.