Saturday, September 24, 2011


At the Historical Society of Dauphin County, we are gathering information on potential craftspeople and artists who might come to the John Harris-Simon Cameron Mansion to display and demonstrate their work. So today I jumped in the Box and mosied on over to Carlisle, where the downtown association was putting on a street fair with food, music, kids' activities, and crafts. I thought I might find a plethora of top-flight artists, but alas, while they were mostly good, their crafts were contemporary, not traditional, and not appropriate for our Colonial/Victorian mansion.

The broom maker and a woodcarver creating Santas were possibilities. I was able to get a business card from the carver. Actually, he was working in the museum shop of the Cumberland County Historical Society, not on the street.

After seeing most of the crafters, I stopped in the VanGo!, a mobile exhibit prepared by the Susquehanna Art Museum of Harrisburg. It had very cool works using re-purposed materials, like old bottle caps, plastic utensils, wooden machine parts, etc. My very favorite was an incredibly brilliant idea of carving cameo-like faces out of an unusual material. You'll be surprised when you see it below.

The VanGo! was being staffed by a friend of mine from PHMC named Jesse and his wife Stephanie. It was the first time I had met Stephanie, and it was finally nice to be able to say hello. This young couple are supporters of the Susquehanna Art Museum.

Next stop were the museum and library of the county historical society. On the way, I passed some food vendors, who were preparing some pungent Asian foods. Entering the museum, I was directed to a new exhibit on the making and use of fabrics in the early days of the county. It was very colorful and professionally prepared. A beautiful reading and research room was just across the hall.

I completed my visit there by hoofing it to the museum store, which is housed in a storefront around the corner. It also serves as a visitor information center. It's there that I saw the Santas being carved.

On the way to retrieve the Box from its slot in the public parking garage (a bargain at 75 cents an hour), I took pictures of the spires on the public buildings on the town square: the Presbyterian church, the Episcopal church, and the old county courthouse.

I also captured two pictures of an odd little building situated at the intersection of two alleys off the main street, and a delightful little bloom of Queen Anne's Lace, a plant I have not seen much this summer. I recall as a kid placing some stems and blooms in water tinted with food coloring and watching the color climb up into the petals of the flowers. Is that capillary action or something?

Finally I was on my way home, with the intention of stopping at the Harris-Cameron Mansion on South Front Street to see how the visitation had been for Smithsonian Museum Day. The Friends of the Mansion were very happy with the turnout and had a great time showing visitors through the house. I took some "detail" pictures to use in future Facebook posts that I do on behalf of the historical society.

While there, I received a call from Susanne, asking me to stop at Target for a thin-crust pizza and some ice. I was amazed at the size of the grocery section and intrigued by watching the frozen food cases light up as I approached. For a minute, I was tempted to run up and down the aisle to enjoy the light show again, but thought better of it.

When I came out of the store, I found the Box cozied up to a hot little number with red leather seats. You go, Box boy!

 I swear, these whoopie pies were the first
thing I laid eyes on.

 The broom maker was working the crowd.

The street scene.

 Can you guess what these were carved from?

Oreos! How cool is that?

 All of the art in the VanGo! was made from used
or found objects.

 These noodles smelled wonderful.

The Cumberland County Historical Society.

 The fabric exhibit included a spinning wheel,
men's clothing, a coverlet, and bed covers.

Notice the mirror under the bed showing
the rope support system.

 "History on High" is the historical 
society's museum shop.

 The carver and his Santas.

 The old Cumberland County Courthouse.
From the County Website: "The Cumberland County Courthouse, built in 1846, is a brick structure with sandstone columns and an impressive bell-and-clock tower. On July 1, 1863, Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart demanded that the Union General William Smith surrender and he replied, "shell and be damned." One of the columns bears the mark of the artillery barrage that followed before General Robert E. Lee ordered the Confederate cavalry unit to the Battle of Gettysburg."

 The Episcopal Church spire.

The Presbyterian Church tower.

 The second floor seems to have grown through the roof 
of this odd little building.

Queen Anne's Lace, a delightful little weed (Daucus carota),
from which the modern carrot was derived.

 Ornate crown molding decorates the parlor.

 These corbels are found in the hallway.

 Simon Cameron looks like a Roman Senator
in this carved bust in its niche on the staircase.

 I have taken to calling this the "boxwood allĂ©e"
that leads to the front porch.

 Susan Artman, president of the Friends 
of the Mansion, donated this framed photo
that she took for a raffle being held as part
of the current photo exhibit in the mansion.

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