Happy 9th Birthday, Katie

Hi, Katie. Another year, and another post so that when you’re grown up you can read this and remember what your early years were like.


This was the year of Legos. We went to Legoland Atlanta and a Lego build day. Your mom entered you in the Lego contest at the fair and you won second place.

Winning 2nd Place at TVA&I Fair

Miner 49er at Legoland Atlanta

You have a lot to proud of this year. You made a perfect score in math on the TCAPs. You can came in second in the Academic Olympics for reading. You and Natalie were on Charles West’s Blue Dogs soccer team and went undefeated for the season.

This is something you might forget. At Lake Hills summer camp you made this bracelet and gave it to me for Father’s Day. I loved it. I wore it all summer. I put it in the cigarbox where I keep things I want to save.

I want to tell you a story for your birthday. This one is about your grandmother Dorothy.

I don’t know if you know this, but grandma Dorothy was an orphan. Her mother, Fanny McCosh, died when she was very young. Her father, Wiley Everett, worked for TVA and had to travel for work. Her brothers and sisters were older and could take care of themselves – kids back then had to be a lot more self sufficient than they do now.

Her father didn’t think they could take care of grandma Dorothy because she was so young then. He placed her in the orphanage in Maryville. A family in Walland, the Whiteheads, adopted her. You know my cousin Johnny and his wife Tina and son Caleb. They’re Whiteheads.

One of things I did for money in high school and college was to cut grass. For a while I took care of the lawn at the Mill House in Walland. It was an old brick mansion that had been converted to a restaurant.

I have a specific memory of working there. I owned a Sony Walkman (a brand of cassette player), but I couldn’t hear it over the sound of the mower, so I’d sort of sing songs, or remember songs, in my head as I worked. I remember very clearly thinking through REM’s “Welcome to the Occupation” while mowing the grass at the Mill House. I also recall taking the money I made there one day and going to the store and buying a Levi’s blue jean jacket.

One day I told mom that I was doing some work for the Mill House. That’s when she told me that she had worked there as a girl, when it was still someone’s home. She did work for families here and there to earn money. She used to walk to that house and work in the kitchen and make pies.

I thought you’d like that story.

Your mom and dad love you, kiddo.

Charleston, SC

Charleston, SC

Mast General Store

Moon Pie Store in Charleston, SC

Baby Boy Update: The Name, Ultrasound Pics, and Baby’s Gonna Be Here Sooner Than We Thought

Charlie Logan Jones 3D Ultrasound

The Name

The baby boy is going to be Charlie Logan Jones. Charlie is my wife’s father’s name. He’s thrilled beyond words to have a grandson named after him. On my father’s side of the family Charlie Houston Putnam is my great grandfather, so it’s a family name on both sides. I like the symmetry of our kids being Katie, Natalie, and Charlie.

Logan was my pick for a middle name. All of the men on my side of the family have L as a middle initial.

Baby’s Coming Real Soon Now

The original due date was April 15th. Melissa was hoping for an Easter baby. That would have had the memorable birthday of 4/8/12.

As the due date got closer Melissa started saying she would never make it until then. The baby was too big. This wasn’t her first time at the rodeo, so she knew when a baby was coming.

Sure enough. The doctors changed their minds. Mid-March started looking more likely. Possibly even early March. So I spent President’s Day weekend painting, decluttering the house, and disposing of furniture that was surplus to needs to get ready for baby.

We had another ultrasound on Tuesday. As of 32.5 weeks the baby is healthy, 5.5 pounds, and in the 78th percentile for size.

30 week ultrasound video:

Photographing Tombstones / Headstones



Hard to read, innit?

“All those people. All those lives. Where are they now?”
– Kaufmann and Hart, The Man Who Came to Dinner

My wife is into genealogy, so we often wind up in obscure little cemeteries in the mountains searching for her ancestors. When we do, she wants the biographical information from the tombstone for her records and a camera is the easiest way to record the details.

Thing is, photographing tombstones turns out to be harder than I thought. (I’ve included bad photos with this post to illustrate just how hard some can be to read.) Some of the carvings are shallow and the stone surface is often covered with lichens or mold, so there isn’t much contrast between the stone surface and the carving.

Rootsweb has a page of advice. Some of the techniques require altering the tombstone in some way, which I don’t want to do. Some tips of theirs I want to try:

  • Pour water on the stone.
  • Use a reflector to cast shadows across the carving.
  • If you don’t have a photographic reflector they suggest a mirror or aluminum foil.

Couple ideas of my own I want to try:

  • Get the flash off-camera with my sync cord so the light is coming in at an angle to the stone.
  • Use color gels on the flash. While playing around with gels I noticed that while red gels conceal blemishes and such, blue gels exaggerate them.
  • See if an infrared bypass filter will increase contrast.
  • Note to self: remove the flash diffuser. In this case you don’t want soft, even lighting. You want hard light with lots of contrast.
  • Try some shots with and without flash. And vary the flash power – that’s always a good technique for getting the light right.

My maternal grandparents’ wedding announcement from 1913

Melissa found this on TNGenWebBlount:

Maryville (TN) Times July 3, 1913

Mr. Wiley G. Everett came to South Louisville last Wednesday, June 24th and claimed as his bride Miss Fannie Gourley McCosh.

Mrs. Everett is a charming and accomplished young lady, who by her winning ways makes friends of all she meets and will be greatly missed at the above named place, and all who have the pleasure of her acquaintance are delighted to know that she will make her future home in Maryville.

Mr. and Mrs. Everett boarded the train Wednesday evening and were pleasant visitors at the beautiful home of the brides sister Mrs. T.G. Callahan of Mentor.

Mrs. Everett is the second daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J.W. McCosh and the writer with a host of other friends wish the young couple all the success, happiness and prosperity this life affords, and hope their troubles will be few and far between as they travel the journey of life together.

My maternal grandmother’s family, the McCoshes, were well off. They owned a marble mine just down the road in Louisville, TN. The Times writer seemed to be a friend of the family, which might make sense for a prominent family. Gourley was Fannie McCosh’s mother’s maiden name.

The McCoshes disapproved of my maternal grandfather, Wiley Everett, because he was of modest means and didn’t come from a prominent family. On my mother’s birth certificate his occupation is listed as “carpenter.” He later worked for TVA.

I have a reproduction of an early Maryville phone listing that shows Wiley Everett living on McGinley Street in Maryville near Five Points and Everett Hill. My parents later lived on Everett Hill and opened their carpet store (Dorolee’s Carpet House) a half dozen blocks away on Broadway.

Fannie McCosh passed away in 1929, three years after my mother was born. The other children were old enough to fend for themselves, but my mother was sent to the Maryville orphanage. Why the McCoshes didn’t take her in I can only guess. She was adopted by the Whitehead family in Walland. Her father later remarried three times. He eventually settled one county over in Lenoir City.

Fannie and Wiley are buried in Grandview Cemetery in Maryville, TN at a monument for Everetts and McCoshes.

Paul Harvey, RIP

Paul Harvey passed away. When I think of Paul Harvey I think of my dad. He was about ten years younger than Harvey and was a big fan.

After my parents divorced my mom got the carpet store in Maryville and my dad opened one in Knoxville, behind a building on Broadway near Old Gray Cemetery. Sometimes I’d work for him on Saturdays or on weekdays during the summer. He’d pay me a couple of dollars a day. I’d spend most of that on comic books at the Pilot on Alcoa Highway on the way back to Maryville.

We spent a lot of time in the truck with the radio on and he always listened to WIVK and Paul Harvey. At lunch dad would tune in Harvey’s show on a radio he kept in the office and we’d listen to that while we ate our sandwiches. That show was one of the small routines in my dad’s day that gave his life a certain constancy.

Mom's First Brush with Electricity

My mother, Dorothy Lucille Jones, was born in 1926. I knew that she was 10 years old before she lived in a house with electricity, and that she learned to cook on a wood stove using a White House cookbook. This morning she told me about the first time she lived in an electrified house.

She described the house as Doc Waters place* on the highway going from Maryville to Walland, Tennessee. What’s now called Highway 321, though some people in Maryville still call it Walland Highway. It wouldn’t surprise me if people in Walland and Townsend call it Maryville Highway, in the same way that what Maryville people call Old Knoxville Highway is what Knoxville people call Old Maryville Pike.

The house was an old three room log cabin that had been retrofitted with electrical wiring. In the early days of TVA and the electrification movement the houses closer to a major road were the first to get electricity. The farther you were from a major road the more years you had to wait for the utility company to get around to stringing wires to your house.

Once the family had a place with electricity her dad bought her mom an electric clothes washer. There was room in the kitchen for the washer, but her mother didn’t want it there. She wanted it on the porch so that everyone could see that she owned a washing machine. I used to wonder why people around here used to have washing machines on their front porches and I guess that’s why. If you had never owned an electric appliance in your life you’d be mighty proud of it and you’d want to show it off.

The cabin had electric lights, which Thomas Edison had invented in 1879. In their previous houses the family used oil lamps. She remembers her mother having to wash the lamp globes every day because they’d get black with soot. That’s how she started telling me the story. She was talking about house cleaning and that led to one thing and then another.

One evening the adults were gone and a lightbulb blew out. Mom knew where the extra bulbs were kept so she decided to change the bulb herself. She stood on a chair and started unscrewing the old bulb, but it seized in the socket and the glass globe broke off.

She decided to pry the rest of the bulb out. With a metal fork. Or as she put it, she planned on twisting the bulb, but the bulb wound up twisting her, and she learned a lesson about respecting this new force in her life called electricity. When her parents got home her mother switched off the light, put a piece of potato in the socket, and used the potato to twist the rest of the bulb out.

* For any local oldtimers who might want to take a guess as to the location of the house, here’s a couple of clues. The log cabin was whitewashed when they moved in and her dad whitewashed it with a mop every spring. Aso, her mom and dad in this story are her adoptive parents the Whiteheads, not her biological parents the Everetts.

Groupon files for $750 million IPO

Chicago Sun-Times June 3, 2011 Experts alternately expressed skepticism and enthusiasm Thursday about Groupon Inc.?ˆ™s prospects after the Chicago daily-deals phenomenon filed papers for an initial public stock offering of up to $750 million ?ˆ” a move that could make many Groupon employees multi-millionaires. this web site groupon phoenix

Groupon, which offers subscribers daily discounts at local businesses, collected $644.7 million in revenues in the first three months of its 2011 fiscal year ?ˆ” a 13-fold jump from the same time a year ago ?ˆ” but posted a net loss of $103 million for the period, according to the paperwork filed Wednesday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Last year, Groupon?ˆ™s revenue totaled $713 million, but it posted a $389.6 million net loss. That?ˆ™s because Groupon is spending heavily on marketing and attracting new customers, and expects to continue to do so. Groupon has 83 million subscribers.

The IPO, which could value Groupon at $15 billion to $20 billion, prompted Richard Brenner, president and CEO of financial-advisory firm The Brenner Group, to say that he would tell would-be investors to ?ˆ?sit out?ˆ? the IPO because Groupon ?ˆ?doesn?ˆ™t appear to have a sustainable business model yet.?ˆ? site groupon phoenix

?ˆ?Why would the public support a company that can?ˆ™t figure out how to be profitable??ˆ? Brenner said.

But Mark Lehmann, a Wilmette native who heads up JMP Securities in San Francisco, said investors are clamoring for a long-awaited IPO by a company that shows such terrific growth.

?ˆ?Groupon has the brand and the first-mover advantage, and it is extremely well-regarded,?ˆ? Lehmann said.

Andrew Mason, Groupon?ˆ™s 30-year-old CEO who is set to become a billionaire if investors scoop up the IPO, said in a letter with the filing, ?ˆ?We are unusual and we like it that way.?ˆ? Sandra Guy