Tag Archives: american pickers

texas-dance-halls-1

We’ve heard the saying before, “Everything is bigger in Texas.” Hats, homes, and hair all get the special treatment in the Lone Star State, so it’s no surprise that when it comes to how they throw a party, bigger is likely to be better.

In Southern cities, there’s no shortage of options for a good time: In Nashville, you can honkytonk your way around Broadway and in New Orleans, you can hear jazz up and down Bourbon Street. But in Texas, you can let loose at any of 400 different dance halls across the state, none of which feature disorderly tourists trying to sing “Don’t Stop Believin” after a few too many PBRs and Sazeracs.

Going to a dance hall is a soulful, family-friendly experience intended to encourage community interaction and even more important, to celebrate history. It’s part of the allure of the South to honor its past and its traditional values, values that go way deeper than biscuits and barbecue. As you see when you step foot in a dance hall, it’s those traditions, like the “come on in, y’all” hospitality of the South, that we all truly crave. 

All across Texas, communities are tending the flame of Southern tradition, including making sure these halls last another century to welcome future generations. Locals happily throw open the doors to travelers who hop off the highway to experience these authentic cultural spots. Come as you are. No need to RSVP.

texas-dance-halls-8

Here’s what keeps Texans showing up to these hallowed halls night after night.

 A WALTZ THROUGH HISTORY

Desperate to escape oppression in the mid-1800s through the early 1900s, many Germans, Czechs, Polish fled to America. Having heard tales of Texas and its size they figured it was a big enough place that they could exist peacefully without consequence. When they arrived in Galveston or Indianola, they loaded up ox carts and followed the rivers North and West to settle. They quickly got to work creating a new life as farmers, business owners, and ranch hands. Homes and crops were popping up as communities began to grow, but they realized they were missing their homelands. As a way to honor their roots they began building social centers, known today as dance halls.

Without the help of power tools, Central and Eastern European immigrants used their skills and craftsmanship to construct these centers for the benefit of their communities. In

side these walls, they discussed agriculture, traded livestock, attended school, worshiped, cooked, and visited with each other. They were free to celebrate their cultural heritage without judgment. This included beer-making, singing in their native languages, playing the instruments they brought with them, and dancing.

texas-dance-halls-2

As more Europeans began settling in Texas, more multicultural friendships formed and the sharing of traditions spread and new sounds were discovered. Germans were playing accordions in their fields, Irish immigrants picked their fiddles while working on the railroad, Creole trumpets sounded triumphantly on porches while the Mexicans strummed the 12 strings of their baja sextos. People of different backgrounds would teach each other songs, and perform for the community as the music blurred the lines of any differences between the collection of cultures. Music was at the heart of it all and the instrument integration enticed people to stay for days enjoying food, beer and fellowship. These centers transformed into places where all were welcome to come dance and play music together. That’s how they got to be called dance halls.

texas-dance-halls-3

PRESENT DAY DANCE HALLS 

Now, more than a century later, that same desire to share and exchange traditions still prevails. While it may be unfamiliar to tourists from north of the Mason-Dixon line, it’s the same tradition of hospitality that’s been here for generations and is found in today’s Texans, many of whom are descendants of the original settlers. 

Folks of all ages, generations and skill levels have polished the wooden floors of Texas dance halls since 1878 when the one of the oldest halls – Gruene Hall – opened.  Gathering has always been a family affair; it’s very common to have folks arrive at 10 pm on a Saturdaynight with kids perched on parents’ shoulders.

texas-dance-halls-4

Do you hear that? The house band is warming up, and so is the weather. Time to pop open the windows, and put on your dancing boots!

Y’ALL COME IN!

When the sun goes down, you’ll know it’s time to head over to the hall. These events have been known to carry on well into the early hours of the morning, so pace yourself. And remember to take along a little cash for the cover at the door and the band’s tip jar!

Pull up. You’ll know you’re there by the sound of the gravel crunching under your wheels. Hop out and while you’re getting your sea legs under you on the uneven turf, take in the fragrant smoke from the nearby barbecue pit as it wafts through the groups of people cooling off in the shade of the century-old oaks that surround the building. Liquid encouragement is always available … grab a Shiner Bock in the beer hut out back before letting the music from inside lure you onto the front porch.

texas-dance-halls-5

Walk in and listen to your boots connect with the wood floor. As you practice your spins, observe the wood-clad interiors and high ceilings. No air conditioning folks! So pick a spot by a fan. Scan the walls for early hand-painted tool advertisements offering tractor repair and pointing out the local grocery store. Some of them even still have their original three-digit phone numbers! Intertwined initials carved decades ago by young lovers still adorn the wooden benches and ceiling beams, and some of those couples may be on the dance floor as you watch, waltzing together still.  Fathers hold onto young daughters who are dancing on their toes, parents polka on date night, and friends celebrate a birthday with the chicken dance. All is well.

texas-dance-halls-6

While each hall has its own charm and story, a few do require a little more love and care than others. Round Top Dance Hall is one example of a building that was nearly lost to disrepair, but under the new ownership of Jon Perez and after a little Junk Gypsy-style makeover by Amie and Joilie Sikes, it has a second life.

ROUND TOP ON TOP

The Airway Dancehall (now called the Round Top Dance Hall) had been welcoming the townspeople of Wesley, Texas since 1907, but after 90 years of hard dancing and crowded Saturday nights, it was drooping. Slated for demolition, it won a last-minute reprieve in 1995 when it was purchased, disassembled and moved to Fayette County’s own Round Top, Texas where it was reassembled and reopened. It now stands proudly among the largest concentration of dance halls in the state, enjoyed once again by the Czech community for meals and dancing.

“We helped with some of the final restoration of the Round Top Dance Hall by building a stage made out of salvaged materials and a huge chandelier rehabbed from an irrigation wheel with over 24 porcelain light sockets wired in place,” explains Junk Gypsy Amie Sikes. “We reached out to our picker friends to find some vintage stage curtains and we found the perfect ones. They were 1960s, authentic blue velvet stage curtains that had been saved from a school auditorium in Michigan. They found the perfect home in Round Top.”

round top dance hall texas
Round Top Dance Hall Texas

JUNK GYPSIES HELP THE HALL

“There’s a lot of people in Texas holding on to the history of dance halls, the legend and lore, the grit and the glitter “ explains Jolie Sikes. “ I think people in Texas are trying to save these historic dance halls because, for one, most of them are architecturally beautiful, and they are ‘feel good’ places. Dance halls were part of the Texas culture when family and community were the most important things. These halls were where these communities gathered for dances, weddings, and fried chicken after church on Sundays, back before everyone had access to easily stay home and watch a marathon of Netflix, these halls were hallowed. Today, it’s still where the 85-year-olds and kids gather to dance.”

PRESERVING THE POLKA 

As far as motivating the younger generation to stay on the dance floor, leave it up to Deb Fleming, Executive Director and Past Board President of the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc. a ten year old state wide non profit whose mission to help preserve the historic halls of Texas as well as the music and culture found in them.

“We want to help our kids understand the history and heritage of their community,” says Deb. “The folks who supported this culture are aging, so we’re inspired to engage younger musicians and their fanbases to get them out and playing at the dance halls. We want this generation to reconnect live music, the kind that’s meant to be heard and danced to in a dance hall.”

The Texas Dance Hall Preservation Inc established that at one time there were around 1,000 dance halls scattered across Texas. It’s their personal mission to preserve the 400 that are left through local awareness, grants and social media. 

“People want to see these dance halls restored not because they like to dance, though that is part of the traditon, but because they’re part of Texas history,” says Deb. “It’s an honor to keep my Polish/German/Czech heritage alive through through dance hall preservation work and to keep the stories and memories alive as well”

If you’re interested in learning more about dance hall history and music, sign up to take a Texas Dance Hall Tour led by Deb and the Texas Dance Hall Preservation Team along with Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel and others this coming October! 

To close off this Texas piece, let’s let Steinbeck take it away,

“For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America.” Go experience it for yourself and don’t forget your best boots!

Have you ever danced in a dance hall? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Photo/video credits by Amie and Jolie Sikes, Kiki Teague, Deb Fleming, Dave Norris, David Bucek, Patrick Sparks and archival photos from various sources.

 

 

Pack for you trip to Texas with our Weekender Bag. Created by Bradley Mountain, it’s strong enough to hold all your boots and fringe. Get the bag!

weekender-bags-banner

 

15 Comments

 

New-Barge
The entire Living Lands & Waters fleet causing the river for their next cleanup location. Photo by @livinglandsandwaters

Cleaning Up the Rivers of America

Life on a two lane road is an unpredictable adventure. We can plan a trip down to the last detail, but there’s no anticipating who we’ll meet along the way or how the road will bend and turn as we go. Not to mention the possibility of running out of gas or cash, or needing to call upon the saving grace of a tow. Something the crew of Living Lands & Waters is hoping for right now.

Why are these people living on a trash barge?

“We are currently floating near St. Louis waiting for cargo barge to cruise by to tow us up the river!” exclaims Chad Pregracke, the founder of Living Lands & Waters, the largest river cleanup project in America. “We are hitchhikers with a big backpack.”

The backpack he is referencing is his fleet of five barges, two towboats, six workboats, two skid steers, and an excavator, all of which carry Chad and his crew of 13 2,300 miles up and down the Mississippi River, year round, where they clean up the litter inside and around the Big Muddy. Something Chad has been doing since he was 15 years old.

LEFT: Chad Pregrake RIGHT:
LEFT: Living Lands & Waters founder, Chad Pregracke RIGHT: Crew member, John Bestrom. Photo by @livinglandsandwaters

“I grew up in East Moline, Illinois, spending summers as a commercial mussel diver with my brother. Diving the mighty river, I was surrounded by sand-covered oil drums, tires, refrigerators and other garbage that littered its floor. Once I realized I was swimming in garbage, I decided to rewrite the river’s reputation, and do it alone if I had to.”

Incredibly, he has never needed to. Chad’s one-man mission started a conversation that spread across the country and now includes the helping hands of more than 100,000 volunteers who have donned gloves and boots and joined him on the riverbanks.

“Before paved roads and railroads, goods and people arrived by boat,” explains Chad. “America’s waterways were and are still major transportation hubs building and propelling the country forward. With more than 17,000 miles of rivers weaving across America, every mile of water is worth protecting.”

Litter on the side of the river. Photos by @livinglandsandwaters
Litter on the side of the river. Photos by @livinglandsandwaters

When the crew isn’t busy organizing one of their thousands of river cleanups, they’re on board their 310-foot floating home. Let’s climb on board and show you around!

Welcome Aboard!

Built in 2011 in Kentucky, the solar-powered house barge has two bathrooms, seven bedrooms, two offices, a galley, a full basement, a classroom, and a 31,000-gallon water tank.

“More than 18 million people a day drink the Mississippi River water, ” shares Chad, “so we make sure that while we’re spending this much time trying to clean up the river, we aren’t  inadvertently adding to the problem. On board, you’ll see we’ve done a great job of recycling and reusing salvaged bits and pieces to build our home.”

Classroom and galley on board
Classroom and galley on board. Photos by @livinglandsandwaters

There’s a cozy, silly, nature theme present throughout the vessel from the warm wooden floors and walls to the four dog dishes in the kitchen!) Photos of past river cleanups form an orderly line around the classroom walls passing under the large cattle horns that hold a very snazzy pair of white leather shoes. Above you, a fierce snapping turtle hangs over the kitchen table, ready to clean your plate for you when you’re done.

The entire barge is a Frankenstein boat with a support structure assembled from a flooded strip club, reclaimed barn tin and wood, recycled license plate awnings, reclaimed rebar, and old bridge girders. Along with the creative use of former river garbage, the barge design includes sustainable materials like the bamboo flooring covering the bathrooms, hallways and classroom, the eco-friendly concrete counter tops throughout, and Energy Star® appliances to handle preparation and clean-up of the most common shipboard meal — frozen pizzas.

“Life on board is fun and exciting,” proclaims Chad. “We have this amazing job that allows us to have a quick commute and lets us work outside at a job that produces immediate results. We love coming together at the end of the day around the kitchen table and talking about the people we met that day or strange things we pulled out of the water and then quickly jump back into our Netflix shows and card games. It’s all about keeping it chill on our unconventional setup.”

The house barge cruising along. Photo by @empoweractive
The house barge cruising along. Photo by @empoweractive

The best part of the house barge is the classroom. Complete with chairs, desks and a projector, the onboard teachers Megan Elgan and Michael Coyne-Logan have taught more than 10,000 students about river ecosystems and ecology restoration. (Michael actually quit his job as an 8th-grade history teacher and swapped a traditional classroom setting for a floating one. He has been on board for the last 10 years!)

“Getting the river clean and keeping it clean are two different things,” explains Chad. “We have to explain this to folks and remind them that their work is not done in a day. It takes a piece at a time, which is how the river got polluted in the first place. Michael and Meghan are education rock stars, teaching this to everyone – young and old – on board.”

2016_livingwaters_cleanup_65
Thousands of tires pulled from below the water fill up the corps barge attached to the house barge. Photo by @livinglandsandwaters

The crew comes from all sorts of different backgrounds— professional disc golfers, college grads, former dental hygienists, handymen, bakers, etc. When united they form the ultimate river cleanup machine, but it never feels like work.

“It’s like living on a cruise ship,” says Chad. “When the boat docks, we jump off and go explore the mainland. We take the time to explore the green spaces and the downtowns, to pick up dog food and toilet paper, to organize local citizens for a river cleanup, and then return to the boat when it’s time to move along to the next port.”

If these folks sound like your kind of company, there are a few ways you can help them reach their goal of recycling one million pounds by the end of 2017.

How can you join the crew? 

Show up!” exclaims Chad. “We keep things light during river cleanups with skits, contests for the strangest thing pulled out of the water, karaoke, loud music, motivational speeches… it’s incredibly entertaining.”

Chad and his crew aren’t just sticking to the Mississippi. Living Lands & Waters has cleaned up 23 rivers in 20 states and they are always looking for volunteers along the way. Everyone from churches, businesses, families, and students looking for an alternative spring break option for next year is encouraged to sign up. More than 100,000 volunteers have helped pull bowling balls, evidence from robberies, sunken boats, and school bus roofs from the water. But there is always a need for more hands, and all ages are welcome!

Mike, volunteers, the Living Lands & Waters crew clean up the Mississippi River
Mike, volunteers, the Living Lands & Waters crew clean up the Mississippi River

“The communities we’ve visited and worked with have done a great job of keeping their section clean long after we’ve gone,” explains Chad. “Because of that, we don’t ever have to visit the same place twice, and that makes it easy to expand our outreach, share our passion, and educate new people every day. We promise you a good time out there while doing a good deed for the environment.”

Get involved with Living Lands & Waters and follow them on Facebook to find out when Chad and the gang will be floating by your town!

 

 

Whether it’s tires from the bottom of a river or a roached Ford uncovered from a pile of junk, we’re all about the salvage game. Support USA made when you order your Nash Salvage tee!

nash-salvage-banner-3

15 Comments
ghost signs columbia tn
Ghost sign on Mike’s building in Columbia TN

The comeback of nostalgic advertising in small town USA

Have you ever caught yourself trying to decipher a ghost sign?

You know — those extra large, faded advertisements for brands like Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco and Coca-Cola you see flaking off the side of brick buildings and barns? That art you’re admiring is actually a major piece of American advertising history known as ghost signs– the remains of a hand-painted brick ad that was big enough to catch the attention of travelers and consumers alike to buy American products like King Midas Flour, Maxwell Coffee, and Owl Cigars.

Painted decades before the Great Depression, brick ads were considered the main advertising platform beginning in 1890. (The same year W B Purvis submitted his patent for the fountain pen.) But, whoever’s steady hand was behind these sky-high signs surely used something stronger than a delicate fountain pen to bring them to life. It took lead paint, brushes, and the grit of the All-American Walldog.

LEFT: Vernor's ginger ale ghost sign in Detroit. Photo by @bealebo RIGHT: Trenton China Pottery in Old City, Philadelphia photo by @danehorvath
LEFT: Vernor’s ginger ale ghost sign in Detroit. Photo by @bealebo RIGHT: Trenton China Pottery in Old City, Philadelphia photo by @danehorvath

It’s an appropriate nickname given to the uncredited, commissioned artists who worked like dogs under the scorching sun and against the frigid air for 10 hours a day. Tethered to their canvas high above the ground, the painters dangled off the side of the building balancing their brushes and buckets of paint. Wall. Dogs. Makes sense right? Their flawless paint strokes produced the brick ads we see today up until the 1960s when neon signs became more relevant. It has been about 100 years since this advertising style was relevant, but folks like Scott Lindley are here to proclaim ghosts signs are back from the dead.

LEFT: Scott Lindley and fellow Walldog. RIGHT: Community of Danville, IL showing up to paint a brick ad in their town. Photo credit Scott Lindley
LEFT: Scott Lindley and fellow Walldog. RIGHT: Community of Danville, IL showing up to paint a brick ad in their town. Photo credit Scott Lindley

In a century bombarded with flashy emblements, pop-up ads, and commercials, brush-to-brick advertising is making a comeback thanks an organization called The Walldogs. As its event coordinator and a decade-long Walldog himself, Scott’s mission is to help get The Walldogs work again by painting the unique history of small towns across America one wall at a time. Scott’s goal turned reality by Nancy Bennett, who organized the very first Walldogs meet up in Allerton, Iowa in 1993.

“Walldogs are above everything else, storytellers,” proclaims Scott. “We say that the first Walldog was a caveman. Just sitting there in his cave painting on the wall the events of his day. The Caveman started this movement of painting pictures of the past!”

walldogs-murals-2
LEFT: Walldog paints a sign in Arcola, IL RIGHT: Walldog in training Bulter, PA Photo credit Scott Lindley

So far, more than 300 Walldogs have painted 548 brick ad murals in 26 towns across America and counting. Scott fulfills Walldog requests submitted from communities coast-to-coast that need a shot of life and have a story to share. Once a town is selected, The Walldogs dive into their history and begin to collaborate with the community on sign designs. The one rule they have: no commercial murals. Walldogs insist on only painting historic event murals and advertisements for businesses that don’t exist anymore but had a hand in the town’s history. When everything is ready to go, Scott makes a call to Nova Color, an American made long-lasting acrylic paint company in California, and they get to work.

 

walldogs-murals-1
LEFT: Paint brushes ready to go RIGHT: Walldog goes to the sky Marshall, IL Photo credit Scott Lindley

“When we come to town, we average about 100 to 200 people per project,” explains Scott. “While many professional Walldogs are on site, there are loads of volunteers who want to be a part of the action, too. That means between seasoned Walldogs and untrained volunteers, art students, and more these murals showcase multiple influences and styles. It boosts confidence and turns folks into Walldog junkies after they dip their first brush.” 

walldogs-murals-5
Star Fireworks Manufacturing Co. Created displays for Eisenhower, Carter, Reagan and William Wrigley. All made in Danville, IL Photo credit Scott Lindley

It’s interesting to see how the reputation of a Walldog has evolved because back in the early days they simply showed up, painted, and hitchhiked to the next town to earn their next paycheck. Today, it’s more of an honest investment and community project that brings pride to the people.

walldogs-murals-8
A page of out of The Arcola Record sharing the news. Arcola, IL Photo credit Scott Lindley

“Over the years, these events have transformed into more of an education opportunity for folks,” says Scott. “People want to feel like they’re a part of it and we love that. We want to unite friends and neighbors using historic art as the bridge and it has proven to be long-lasting and uplifting.”

Today, brick ad advertising is being recognized for the nostalgia and historic value it adds to buildings and the community. Ever the eager bunch, the Walldogs are currently taking submissions for small towns looking to share their history one wall at a time. And it’s as easy as a Facebook message to Scott.

Photo credit Scott Lindley
Before he was a decorated war hero, Joe Ernst was a hero in another away. While working at a restaurant during the time of segregation, he was told to turn away a bus of African American people including Ella Fitzgerald, and refused. Photo credit Scott Lindley

“The best part about my job is establishing bonds and telling stories,” says Scott. ” It’s addictive because you want to hear them all! After working with a town, I consider myself a part of it. Proud to say that to this day I’ve helped organize 102 murals and that I belong to five communities all around the country and counting.”

Are brick ads making a return to your town or do you know where one is? Tell us about it in the comments below.

Our classic logo patch is now on a navy blue mesh back trucker hat with snapback adjustable closure. A great summer hat for fans young and old.
navy patch hat banner
CLICK HERE TO SHOP NOW NAVY TRUCKER CLASSIC LOGO PATCH HAT
46 Comments

good-grit-main

Many of you saw our news about our very own Mike Wolfe being one of three guest editors of the southern focused magazine, Good Grit, the Heirloom issue. What does that mean exactly? Let us explain.

As a guest editor, you get to hand select the content and stories. Between this issues’s 169 pages, Mike and his two friends Garlan Gudger and Nick Dryden have put together an assortment of small town destinations to visit, recipes to try, and artisans you outta know all found below the Mason Dixie Line.

But even more than the strawberry BBQ sauce recipe found on page 98, the intent of the issue is to bring the focus on the physical memories you can touch. Something Mike brings forward in his professional career daily. With each piece he pulls from a barn, he holds a tangible connection to the past in his hands. For those of you who hold tight to hand-me-downs, personal treasures, and tell their stories, this issue is for you!

good-grit-3

We’d love you to have a copy of this magazine. Here’s how:

  • Order a single Heirloom copy
  • Pick up a copy in a store near you
  • Subscribe to the magazine and when you sign up for a six-month subscription to Good Grit, you’ll get the Heirloom issue featuring Mike for FREE while supplies last!

Important thing to mention: If you use the PROMO CODE: smile17 $10 of your subscription cost goes towards a nonprofit close to Mike’s heart, Operation Smile.

Enjoy!

Team Antique Archaeology

good-grit-1

14 Comments

While you’re visiting our Nashville shop, be sure to check out our neighbors also located within Marathon Village – locally owned and all unique.

Bang Candy Company

The Bang Candy Company is a Nashville-based sugar-peddler specializing in whimsical confections. It is a magical, indulgent place where candy lovers bear no shame. Indulge yourself in the gourmet marshmallows half-dipped in Belgian chocolate, enliven drinks and desserts with delicious syrups.

bang-candy

Vincent Peach

Vincent Peach aims to create a balance of casual elegance and sophisticated luxury through their handcrafted jewelry. Specializing in pearls, diamonds, and precious metals, they mix these elements with woven exotic leathers to give the collection a sense of captivating comfort. Don’t forget to get a glimpse of the in-house workshop where they design each piece by hand making yours exclusive to you.

VINCENT-PEACH-WEB

Jack Daniel’s General Store

The General Store offers customers a wide-ranging selection of specialty Jack Daniel’s products and gifts, including exclusive branded apparel and accessories and commemorative guitars. Being in Music City, they carry specialty products that connect the history of Jack Daniel to the music and culture of Nashville. No booze sold here, but plenty of watering holes around to quinch your thirst!

jack-daniels-web

Third Coast Comedy Club

Third Coast Comedy Club is the only comedy club in town for local comedy. And the only comedy club for all types of comedy (improv, sketch, stand-up, etc.). There’s comedy practically every night of the week with shows Wednesday-Sunday. Stop by the Green Room bar for food and drinks before, during, and after shows.

Grinder’s Switch Winery

5 family members. 7 acres of vineyards. 10 tons of grapes harvested and 10,000 gallons of wine produced last year alone. These folks are as serious about their wine as it sounds, yet they pair it with a ton of fun. Serving wine from Hickman County, Tennessee, ask Jodie and some of her fellow-winos to give you a taste of what Tennessee wine has to offer. Who doesn’t love a wine slushie after a long day of shopping?

gsw-web

Boswell’s Music City Harley-Davidson Store

Boswell’s carries genuine Harley-Davidson apparel and accessories, as well as other official licensed products. Throughout the shop are personal photos that tell the story of the owners (they have had Harley dealerships since the 1950s!) and antique Harley memorabilia.

harley-web

Island Cowgirl

Island Cowgirl is a mix of unique, handmade, fun, and rustic things for everyone. The sign outside their door says “Cool Stuff Inside”… and the sign doesn’t lie. Much of their curated collection features local and regional artists and pieces like handmade metal animal sculptures, both funny and inspirational barn wood signs, birdhouse puzzles, metal laser cut city maps and state ornaments, as well as the Island Cowgirl brand of rugged and romantic inspirational jewelry.

island-cowgirl-web

Safehouse Tattoo

Safehouse has six talented artists with styles ranging all over the tattoo spectrum. If you’re feeling wild, book an appointment ahead of time or you may have to settle for a t-shirt (designed by their artists naturally) as due to high demand, they are by appointment only.

SAFEHOUSE-WEB

Screened Threads

A commercial screen printing business “in the back” with carefully selected vintage goods “in the front”, they have everything you need to bring home with you to remember Nashville. The hand-painted art is made by the owner’s daughter.

SCREEN-THREAD-WEB

D.Luxe Home 

Anytime we need a gift (or maybe just something for ourself… shhh!!) we love popping into D.Luxe. An industrial, glam, and kinda kooky home store you’ll find furniture, lighting, salvage finds, oddities, gifts, and art. And for all you Sun Record lovers, plenty of their licensed products too!

dluxe-web

Garage Coffee Company 

There’s something about Garage Coffee that invites you in and makes you want to stay a while. A down to earth spot to connect with your buddies and get your caffeine fix. Don’t miss their jalapeno corn muffins — we’re obsessed.

garage-web

Southern Engine Deli

A comfortable home-town deli with big city flavor — you won’t go home hungry. They serve hot and cold sandwiches including the famous SE Club… and yes we ate it after we photographed it! If you got your pooch with you, their outside seating is dog friendly!

SANDWICH-WEB

Brown Dog Market

Brown Dog is a family owned gift shop that carries many local artisan goods with a flair for the snarkier side of things. You never know what you’ll find as you treasure hunt in this little shop.

brown-dog-web

Magnolia Goods 

Magnolia Goods is a curated space for children and their grown-ups. Specializing in small mom n’ pop brands from around the United States, they also have a few of the larger brands we all know and love from around the world. You will find everything from handmade children’s apparel to wooden hand crafted toys to small batch skincare items and locally crafted jewelry and leather goods. Community based events such as new baby classes, mom’s night out,  and hand dying workshops are also offered.

magnolia-web

Pure Nashville 
Pure Nashville is an all organic salon and spa. They have a team of creative people devoted to creating a toxin-free salon and spa experience. Their purpose is to spread awareness, educate and provide you with a space for self care. Several of us visit them regularly!

pure-salon-web

Lorraine’s Boutique / Lorraine Frances Jewelry 

Full of women’s clothing ranging from fancy to subdued, the real gem – ok, pardon the pun, is the jewelry that is hand-crafted in the space. Many items, like bottle caps, watches, typewriter keys, guitar picks, and coins, are recycled and incorporated into their jewelry, proving that jewelry can be unique wearable art.

loraine-francis-web

Corsair Brewstillery

You might be asking yourself, “What’s a Brewstillery? Is it a brewery? Is it a distillery?” The answer is yes to both! Corsair’s original location focuses on high gravity beer within their malt whiskey program. Here’s what you’ll find: grain to glass story for beer and whiskey, paired tastings of experimental whiskey and unique beers, as well as beer cocktails and experimental whiskey shots. Tours are available.

corsair

 

O Gallery

Across the street from us is O Galley – a fine art and gift shop that presents the artworks of Olga Alexeeva and other local artists, from paintings to wood to jewelry and photography. Whether you’re shopping for a big piece of art or a little souvenir – everyone can find something unique here, including painting classes!

ogallery-web

Greenbrier Distillery 

Take a stroll to the end of the street and go see the stunning Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. After three years of research, planning and hard work, brothers Andy and Charlie Nelson re-formed the business that had closed exactly 100 years earlier in 1909 during Prohibition. With the spirit in their blood, Charlie and Andy followed their hearts and devoted their lives to resurrecting Nelson’s Green Brier Whiskey made the way their great-great-great grandfather did it. We love the story of this business and it’s history so don’t miss the tour.

greenbrier-web

Marathon Music Works 

Originally built in the early 1900s, Marathon Music Works has been restored and adapted to produce a wide array of live music experiences and special events. The venue has hosted a wide range of artists from Garth Brooks to Chance The Rapper to EmmyLou Harris. Check out who’s playing on their website!

marathon-music-webPhotography by Meghan Aileen

 

Our water tower raglan is the exclusive shirt for our Nashville store. Inspired by the same water tower you’ll see beside our building when you visit. Pick one up!

ecommerce banner - water tower raglan

10 Comments

Because well-behaved women rarely make history.

When was the last time you were brave? Was it when you tried a new dish for dinner or when you jumped off that waterfall last weekend? If you’re on the down side of courage these days, let these six fearless females inspire you. Without the benefit of fancy high-tech gear and environment-tested apparel we have today, these women earned their immortality by walking on the wings of planes as they flew through the sky and crossing teetering tightropes. They defined bravery and showed the boys that girls have grit too, and here they are — the lion-hearted women who changed our perspective female power with death-defying stunts and unheard-of acts of strength.

Gladys Ingle, the only female member of Hollywood’s 13 Black Cats aerial daredevil stunt troop

Gladys could fly with the guys, all 13 of them. In 1924, at just 26, she was initiated into Hollywood’s aerial daredevil men-only stunt group The 13 Black Cats. She proved her worth when she walked blindfolded on the wings of a Curtis JN-4 biplane as it flew over Los Angeles, and mastered midair archery from these planes! And no parachute for Gladys either, not until several deadly accidents resulted in a new 1927 law requiring these fate-tempters to wear them. Picture her the next time you’re on a plane snapping a traditional photo of the wing.

gladys-ingle-transferring-from-bob-mcdougalls-airplane-to-art-goebels-1
Photo credit of San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives

Maria Spelterini, the only woman to cross the Niagara River Gorge on a tightrope

Maria “Spelterina” Spelterini had perfect balance. To prove it, she donned an elaborate costume and showed up at the lower suspension bridge on the Niagara River Gorge on July 8th, 1876.   Stepping onto a two-and-a-quarter-inch wire, the 23-year-old Italian “Signorina of the Niagara” made the trip look easy. She completed the walk a second time with her feet strapped to peach baskets. Her third walk, five days later, was done blindfolded, and three days after that she walked the wire with her ankles and wrists tied.

maria
RIGHT: Photo credit George E. Curtis LEFT: Photo credit C. Bierstadt

Zazel, the first human cannonball

Rossa Matila Richter, aka Zazel, literally flew into the room with a big boom. At just 14, she became the first human cannonball when, in 1877, she was shot from a spring-loaded cannon created by The Great Farini at London’s Royal Aquarium. The big bang and cloud of smoke produced by a perfectly timed firecracker awed audiences and fooled them into thinking she really had been shot from an actual cannon. Zazel later toured with and became a star attraction of the PT Barnum Circus, entertaining crowds of thousands as she shot across the sky.

zazel-human-cannon-ball
LEFT: Photo credit Comtesse DeSpair. RIGHT: Wikimedia Commons

May Wirth, circus Hall of Famer and equestrian daredevil

Tiny but mighty comes to mind when we think of May. Standing a mere five feet tall, she was strong enough to balance herself on the backs of cantering horses while doing forward and backward somersaults, and performing backward flips from one horse to the next in the Australian circus. She once even danced the Charleston on top of a trotting white horse!  At the early age of 10, she was scouted by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey and Hagenbeck’s Circuses with whom she toured for 15 years. Her craft and passion earned her an induction into the Circus Hall of Fame in 1963 where she is forever enshrined as the greatest bareback rider who ever lived. You can understand Mike’s excitement when he picked one of her touring trunks on an episode of American Pickers.

 

 

Helen Gibson, the first Hollywood stuntwoman

This woman had a 50-year love affair with danger. After years of riding in rodeos, Helen Gibson, born Rose August Wenger, had developed the agility and strength she needed to succeed as Hollywood’s first stuntwoman. She made her name as the stunt double in the adventure series The Hazards of Helenand that led to a career in the movies. Poorly paid and socially stigmatized for her decision to become a stuntwoman, Helen persisted, often creating her own routines, many involving speeding trains. One of her most dangerous stunts required her to jump from a building roof onto the top of a moving train. The momentum sent her rolling to the end of the train car, only to be saved by catching herself on an air vent. Another stunt involved chasing a runaway train on horseback, grabbing a dangling rope to swing herself from her horse onto the train just before it went under a bridge. All hail Helen.

HELEN-DARE-DEVIL
Photo credit godsey

Ethel Dare, the first woman to switch planes in the air

Revered as the “Queen of the Air” in the 1920s, Margi Hobbs, aka Ethel Dare, took the audience’s eyes to the sky. This former Barnum and Bailey Circus flying trapeze performer was known for her wing walker talents and for being the first woman to successfully walk from the wing of one plane to another in mid-air. Did we mention she was just a teenager when she did that? Her two signature moves included falling backwards off the wing of the plane with nothing but a rope tied to her to save her life, and a move called the “Iron Jaw Spin” where she was suspended in midair by a special harness placed between her teeth.

ETHEL-DARE
LEFT: Photo credit George Dettling Collection via Rob Osborne via Holcomb’s Aerodrome RIGHT: Danes Homes Antiques, Waupaca WI via Holcomb’s Aerodrome

How many daring darlings do you know? Share what makes them brave with us in the comments below.

 

Daring women come in all styles and shapes, and our Main Street tee looks great on all of them.

main street crew neck banner

4 Comments

Who’s down for a sleepover in the clouds?

Sometimes you just gotta get away. You can retreat to a lakeside cottage, pitch a primitive tent in the woods, or hook up your fifth wheel in a fully-loaded campground. But if you’re looking for a more unique and rustic camping experience, head to Idaho where, scattered among the western white pine forests, an entire army of fire towers stands ready for your company. Originally built between the 1930s and the1960s to help spot forest fires, these towers have transitioned into historic hideaways for singles and families seeking rustic adventure.  No bigger than 14ftX14ft and priced around $40 a night, many offer basic amenities — bed, kitchen, heat — but you’re gonna have to brave the 50 yard –walk to the pit potty, and any other amenities are up to you!

While fire tower rentals are available all across the West, here are some of our favorites in Idaho. (Try to sample a few!) 

RIGHT: Arid Peak Lookout. LEFT: Trail back to camp. Photos by @run_robyn_run

Arid Peak Lookout

Location: Avery, Idaho

Fun Fact: Built in 1935, Arid Peak was built by the Milwaukee Railroad Line to help spot fires. Abandoned and vacant for 25 years, it was restored for rental to the public by the Forest Fire Lookout Association, the U.S. Forest Service, and a team of citizen volunteers. It’s also on the National Register of Historic Places!

What You’ll See: 360-degree views of the Bitterroot Mountains, the Loop Creek, and Idaho Panhandle National Forest

What to Do: Pack your bikes to take advantage of the seven trestles and ten tunnels on the Hiawatha Bike Trail that carves through the Bitterroot Mountains. Grab your poles and a cup of bait and head to the banks of the St. Joe River where the cutthroat trout swim in large numbers. If you feel like taking a hike over the miles of trails, keep an eye out for elk, eagles, and bears!

Hike It OR Drive It: Hike. Access to the cabin requires a moderately steep three-mile hike and availability depends on weather conditions.

Amenities:  This place has a wood stove, beds, propane, and cooking supplies. It’s perfect for an adventurous family of four! Just bring bedding, food, and a pair of shoes to wear to the outhouse back down on the ground. No running water, so prepare accordingly!

Make a Reservation

deer-ridge-fire-tower
LEFT: 4:00AM view from the lookout. RIGHT: Interior of the tower. Photos by @twilliams165

Deer Ridge Lookout

Location: Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Fun Fact: You enter this lookout through a trap door

What You’ll See: Unforgettable view of the Purcell Mountain Ranges of Canada, Montana, and North Idaho

What You’ll Do: You’ll find hiking trails along Ruby Ridge and Deer Ridge and wild huckleberries in August and September, and you can cook what you catch in the Moyie River.

Hike it OR Drive it: Drive. Kick it into four-wheel drive and save your strength for hiking 

Amenities: Sorry to say that the steep staircase, trap door, and rustic accommodations don’t give this lookout a kid-friendly rating. It sleeps two people in twin beds and has a pit toilet on the ground.  And while you are down there, you can do your cooking and water purifying.

LET: Interior of the tower. Photo by @twilliams165
LEFT: Waking up to Lone Tree Peak. RIGHT: Outhouse with a view. Photos by @jason_hershey_

Shorty Lookout

Location: Bonners Ferry, Idaho

Fun Fact: The closest convenience store is on the Canadian border– about 50 miles away!

What You’ll See: The Selkirk and Purcell Mountain Ranges give a beautiful performance, and there isn’t a bad seat in the house.

What You’ll Do: If photography is your game, this is the lookout for you, with native elk, mountain bluebirds and the mountains themselves making spectacular portraits. And don’t forget to stargaze . . . unforgettable!

Hike it OR Drive it: Hike. Limber up for your 2.5-mile hike to camp!

Amenities: Inside, you’ll find a pair of twin beds, two tables, and a historic fire finder and district map.  Outside, a pit toilet – bring your own shoes for the 100-yard dash.  No water. No electric.

Make a Reservation

LEFT: Even the outhouse has a view. Photo by @Bendyfrog RIGHT: Hiker takes in the view of the Boise National Forest @griffon_steelheading
LEFT: Even the outhouse has a view. Photo by @Bendyfrog RIGHT: Hiker takes in the view of the Boise National Forest @griffon_steelheading

Dead Wood Lookout

Location: Emmett, Idaho

Fun Fact:  This fire tower was built in 1934 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, was on active duty until 1972. It has since become one of the most popular rental cabins in Idaho.

What You’ll See: A Dead Wood Mountain sky has colorful sunsets and the brightest stars. (No light pollution around this place!)  Be aware of the rattlesnakes and bull elk in these parts, y’all.

What You’ll Do: Scott Mountain, Julie Creek and Nellie’s Basin are great for hikers and bikers, while the Deadwood Ridge Trail is better for horses and Jeeps there to play in the mountain mud.

Hike it OR Drive it: Drive. You’re going to need a high clearance vehicle to tackle the terrain on the way up. (Deadwood Mountain is at an elevation of 8,200 feet!)

Amenities: The bare basics are provided: wood stove, two chairs, two single beds. You’ll spend a lot of time watching sunsets and sunrises on the wraparound porch.  Cooking and dining on the ground floor only, where a fire ring and picnic table await. This place is clean, with a vault toilet nearby.

Make a Reservation

LEFT: Bald Mountain Lookout. Photo by @msm98908 RIGHT:
LEFT: Bald Mountain Lookout. Photo by @msm98908 RIGHT: Room with a view. Photo by @abigail.georgia

Bald Mountain

Location: Potlatch, Idaho 

Fun Fact: This lookout is located on the White Pine Scenic Byway (aka Highway 6) — an 80-mile drive through historic small towns and thick forests.

What You’ll See: You’re in for a real deal birds eye view from Bald Mountain.  Not only is it one of the highest peaks in the Hoodoo Mountain Range, ( 5,334 feet above sea level), it’s thick with Douglas fir, hemlock and red cedar.  Wildlife watchers may see eagles soaring through the sky.  Bear, moose, elk and deer are frequently spotted in the area as well.

What You’ll Do: Advanced hikers and bikers can run around the 8.9-mile Beason Meadows Trail or the four miles of Strychnine Ridge Trail.

Hike it OR Drive it: Drive. Guests can drive to the lookout in vehicles with good ground clearance, but trailers are not recommended due to some rough spots on the road.

Amenities: This lookout sits 50 feet off the ground. A stairway leads to an exterior catwalk that surrounds the cabin, and can accommodate four people. A table and four chairs, a twin bed with foam pad and two cots are provided. Propane appliances include a cooking stove, heater and refrigerator. Cookware, dishes and utensils are provided. A pit toilet is located just below the lookout.

No water or electricity, so bring your own drinking water and lighting.  And don’t forget garbage bags to pack out the trash.  An added note: the propane fridge isn’t the most reliable, so for insurance, consider a well-iced cooler!Bedding and additional mattresses are not provided. The propane refrigerator may be unreliable, so guests may want to consider bringing a cooler with ice.

Make a Reservation

LEFT: It's a climb to the top! Photo by @arielamandah RIGHT: View from the lookout. Photo by @mountain_girl_fit
LEFT: It’s a climb to the top! Photo by @arielamandah RIGHT: View from the lookout. Photo by @mountain_girl_fit

Lookout Butte

Location: Kooskia, Idaho

Fun Fact:  There have been three different towers on this site over the past 80 years. The current one, now available for rent, was built in 1962.

What You’ll See: At an elevation of 5,869 feet, you’re breathing the fresh mountain air from three mountain ranges: the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness Area, Coolwater Ridge, the Seven Devils Mountain Range.  And there’s water everywhere, mainly flowing through the Selway River and Lochsa River Drainages.

What You’ll Do: Pick one of the many back roads that are perfect for off-roading or biking.

Hike it OR Drive it:  Drive. Bring a car with gritty tires to combat the incline, (add comma)  and ditch your trailer before the climb.

Amenities: With five steep flights of stairs up to the tower, this one isn’t recommended for families. (add period)  Parties of four are welcome to use the two twin beds, propane stove, and kitchen table. Down on the ground is a fire ring, and down the hill, a pit toilet.

Make a Reservation

A few final reminders about staying in these lookouts:

  • None of them have running water–pack plenty of H20 and appropriate tools to purify your supply
  • Cell phone coverage is unreliable, but snap all the photos you want!
  • To help prevent the spread of tree-killing pests only burn firewood near your destination

Happy Trails, out there!

 

Our newest hat for Mike’s Two Lanes: for explorers of the back roads, this charcoal snapback hat is MADE IN THE USA.

slide-two-lanes-eagle-hat-2

 

7 Comments

Vermont Army Major unites with fellow veterans to reunite Purple Hearts to military families across the nation

Imagine for a second that you’re seeing your brother, son, dad, or uncle off to war. That precious, fleeting goodbye is filled with tears, prayers, and the promise of returning home. You watch them walk down the driveway to catch the bus and just like that, they’re gone. Two weeks later, you get a knock on your door. You open it, your body tightens, and everything around you slows up. A man in uniform hands you a telegram saying that your loved one is never coming home. As your family and friends cope with the news, the telegram is later followed by a final piece of the person you’ll ever receive, a Purple Heart.

war notice telegram
Photo credit Zachariah Fike

Could you imagine losing or misplacing that piece of a loved one and having it returned 50 years later? A Purple Heart is family history at its most significant, and the oldest military award still given to those who have served.  Helping identify and locate the survivors of one who was awarded it, and then somehow parted from, a Purple Heart is a chance to reunite a family with a piece of a near or distant relative they may lovedor perhaps never have known. Something Mike has personal experience with.

“Neither my mother nor I ever knew my grandfather,” says Mike. “What we do know is that he was killed on 11 May 1945 while serving on the U.S.S. Evans (DD-552) during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. When she presented me with his Purple Heart and told me his story, I was without words. Men like Zachariah Fike are making it possible to give other military families closure and peace through his Purple Hearts Reunited nonprofit as he works unfailingly to return these medals to their rightful owners.”

mike wolfe grandfather
Mike’s Grandfather

Zac, founder of Purple Hearts Reunited and active Army Major for the past 18 years, left war a changed man. Especially after his last tour to Afghanistan, where he was wounded and later awarded a Purple Heart for his service and sacrifice. Like many other veterans on the mend, Zac needed an outlet to help him cope with post-combat stress, and he developed an interest and immersed himself in the world of antiques. The first piece of his collection was a gift from his mother — a Purple Heart she had bought for $100.

“When I flipped the heart over and read the name ‘Pvt. Corrado Piccoli’ my first reaction was sadness,” says Zac. “Having recently been presented with my own Purple Heart, I was all too familiar with its significance. The precious medal in my hand represented a fellow soldier who gave his life for me, my family, and our country. Suddenly that sadness fled and excitement took over as I felt I had a new mission at that very moment. I had to find out everything about this veteran’s service and answer the mystery as to who his family was and why his medal was discovered in an antique shop. I feel that excitement each evening when I go into my basement to research the fallen heroes of history.” (See Zac at work in the video below.)

Knowing that there were more Purple Hearts to rescue, and certainly other veterans needing an outlet, Zac founded Purple Hearts Reunited in 2012. His nonprofit is currently the only one of its kind uniting Purple Hearts and their proper families, free of charge and with the help of other veterans, serving the cause of historical preservation and education. So far, this alliance has resulted in the successful return of more than 300 Purple Hearts to military families all across the country.  Last year alone, the organization brought home 70 medals, with its volunteer veterans logging more than 28,000 miles and touching the lives of more than 70,000 people in 18 states.

Purple Hearts Reunited opens its Valor Guard to veterans from all branches of the military and special services, like Sgt. Greg Haak, who served eight years in the U.S. Army with two tours in Iraq. During his last deployment, he was wounded by an IED and the resulting infection cost him his leg. He has since retired from the military, gradually adjusting to civilian life with the help of Purple Hearts Reunited.

“Participating in these returns fills me with a sense of pride that I haven’t experienced since my time in the military, while allowing me to feel like I’m part of a new family,” says Greg.

“For me,” says Zac, “watching Greg stand in front of a family at a return, looking sharp in his uniform again, and projecting confidence in the mission he was performing, was one of the proudest monuments I’ve experienced since starting this organization. It has become more than returning a medal or honoring a family, it has transformed into a process that also helps heal my fellow veterans.”

purple hearts medals
Photo courtesy of Zachariah Fike

Veterans across the country have been given a new purpose and drive to stay active and serve others in need. Even the Executive Director of Purple Hearts Reunited, Sarah Corry, the daughter of a veteran, has a personal connection to the organization.

“My father is a two-time Purple Heart recipient from his time in Vietnam. I’m one of the lucky ones in that I get to sit down with my kids and show them that tangible symbol of sacrifice their Grandpa made for our nation. Being able to give that moment back to another Mom or Dad isn’t work for me, it’s a gift and a privilege. Participating in return ceremonies has been life-changing for me.”

Zac’s family has served all the way back to the Revolutionary War, so he understands the emotional attachment people have towards these medals.

“They tell the story and give closure to so many people. I believe all medals should go home to their true owners or be preserved in a special place of honor. Medal returns have become more than just returning a medal. We’re providing a very valuable experience for each family that often leads to families reuniting, learning more about their family history, and in most cases, finding closure with their loss. I once had help returning a Purple Heart from a dog named Smuckers after she dug the medal up in Denver dirt! That was a memorable story for me.”

purple hearts framed
Framed Purple Heart Photo Courtesy of Zachariah Fike

But there are so many more stories that still need to be told. In fact, Zac and his team have made a pretty amazing New Year’s resolution this year: to return at least 100 medals in 2017 to mark the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I. To keep that resolution, they will have to return one medal just about every three days!

“I guess you could say I enjoy the thrill of finding an item and learning more about it, in much the same way that Mike does. It’s our vow that through returning these Purple Hearts  we’ll tell each veteran’s story, preserve their legacy, and solidify their contribution to history.”

If you’re a veteran looking to volunteerto donate, or help identify current Purple Hearts, visit PurpleHeartsReunited.org.

 

usa made gifts
CLICK TO SHOP ALL USA MADE PRODUCTS NOW
46 Comments