Thursday, February 24, 2011

Treat Yourself to the Best . . .

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A few posts back at the end of January, I had shared a detail of this barn facade with you, showing just two words, "the Best", asking if anyone could guess what the entire message was. Just in case anyone has been losing tremendous amounts of sleep over that unanswered question, here is the entire barn end, from central Pennsylvania, back in September.
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Was thinking about this again because I just finished re-reading Edward Abbey's marvellous book, "The Fool's Progress : An Honest Novel", in which he mentions one of these Mail Pouch barn advertising signs, which were prevalent long ago. Less so now that the risks of mouth and throat cancer associated with chewing tobacco are widely known. No wonder the signs are fading. A bygone era, when tobacco was made to sound romantic. Although, can you imagine wanting to kiss someone who has a mouthful of chewing tobacco ?
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Someone was a bit perplexed as to why I was hanging over the rail fence there taking pictures early that morning.
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60 comments:

Margaret said...

LOL! I would never have to ask ... I would grab my camera and do the same thing. A cop asked me once. I felt so guilty and I wasn't doing anything wrong! Love these shots. The black cat was rather cooperative.

Genie -- Paris and Beyond said...

Great old barn and you know that it was eons ago that those messages appeared... yucky.

The black cat looks just like Virginia's Meeps...

Thanks for putting our minds at rest. ;-)

Genie

lgsquirrel said...

Great photos. :Looks like a good location for a horror story ......black cat included.

Chris said...

Excellent. I love building (and barn) advertising. Well done.

Oakland Daily Photo said...

Wonderful photos. Mailpouch may not be around any more, but there are still plenty of people who "chaw" Copenhagen. Ugh.

Gary said...

Very nice shots :-)

Laurie said...

Owen, I thought it might have been 'Magic Lantern is the Best'! Kissing someone with chaw tabbacie? I think not. Yuk!

Steve said...

You mean brown spit isn't attractive?

Gabriela Von Bohlen said...

Quite a find. The wooden wall has aged beautifully. It wouldn't be the same if it was concrete.

Pastelle said...

On a l'impression de pouvoir toucher. Les murs, le bois, les feuilles, et le chat...
C'est sans doute ça le meilleur. :)

mythopolis said...

Nice shots. That patina of passing time in the fading flaking old paint, and in the stone wall too. There are still remnants of that era when it occurred to advertisers that the barn could be a billboard. Here in Tennessee you can still some of this. "See Rock City" was a popular sign on barns advertising a tourist attraction in Chattanooga. For the farmer, I suppose it was some quick cash to allow advertisement on the side or roof of the barn.
My grandfather chewed tobacco, and at each corner of his mouth it seemed to form a dark brown stain. And there was always a coffee can on the porch full of nasty brown tobacco spit!

...louciao... said...

Mmmmmmm, there's just so much to love about that third picture in particular. Must I count the ways? I think not; by now you must have some inkling of how my mind works (scary as that might be).

Mary Ann said...

Leave it to modern medicine and science to ruin a simple pleasure. Not that I'm a fan of chewing tobacco, or any tobacco, really. But I can't help feeling some kind of sorrow for days that are over and never coming back, because we now know better.

Le Journal de Chrys said...

J'aime particulièrement ton avant-dernière photographie qui marie le végétal et le minéral. De plus j'apprécie son graphisme horizontal qui délimite les différentes matières!


BRAVO

Céline said...

Si je me souviens bien, j'avais répondu que le meilleur était à venir... et je crois que j'ai eu raison !! Tes photos sont superbes, la peinture écaillée, le bois vieilli par la pluie, le soleil et le vent et même le chat s'est mis en accord avec le vert tendre de l'herbe et de la barrière aussi.
Owen, tu es vraiment un magicien ! Merci de nous faire partager ton voyage.

Roxana said...

ooooh the wonderful colours, especially that green wooden fence, so unexpected, it strikes me with surprise and delight :-)

Mr. Charleston said...

I guess Mail Pouch must have been a northern thing. Never saw one of those down here in the deep south. Down here it was Red Man or Copenhagen. Or, of course, See Rock City.

Great shots.

Margaret Pangert said...

That looks like the same cat from the Pere Lachaise! Same expression on his face, too.
We do know now that tobacco is almost a death symbol, but food back then didn't have the chemicals and hormones in it, the air was less smoggy, etc. Who knows what will ultimately prove the healthiest? me

Nathalie said...

Ah j'adore te suivre dans tes voyages, l'Amérique par tes yeux prends un charme particulier. Encore !

Nevine said...

You always seem to attract the attention of the cats, Owen, no matter where you go; she's got her eyes right on you. :-) And of course, you are the master of photographing barns, so should I be surprised at these photos? You know I love barns and such, by now. As for chewing tobacco, I can't imagine what anyone ever found appealing about that. But then, to each his own.

Wishing you a beautiful weekend, Owen!

Nevine

Springman said...

The Color in the third shot just knocks me out. Blue to brown to green...What a pallet! I would bet a days wages there's an antique ride in that barn that your iconic black cat sleeps in.
The romantic past of stuffing a chaw under your lower lip and drooling thick black liquid? Not so much. That's akin to an M.D. lovingly reminiscing about the days of bleeding patients. At least lighting up has some good ol' film noir ambiance associated with it.

Stickup Artist said...

You know I'm loving these. Great textures, colors, time worn, and a fading message from the past. As indeed our days will one day fade into the past as will our folly and what we venerate. And I swear, it seems the same black cat pops up wherever you go!

Looking for Siddhartha said...

oh, I like the ancient rock - how beautiful! But I adore the black cat. What a noble-minded animal...!

Have a nice week-end, dear Owen!

Renée

mythopolis said...

I got a kick out of Stickup's comment about the black cat. I mean what's with that? I hope he just sat there, and didn't cross your path. Meanwhile, try not to break any mirrors, or walk under ladders. I am not superstitious, but, better safe than sorry.

Owen said...

Hi Margaret, I know what you mean, quite a number of times while on that trip in September, I ran a little film in my mind where police cars were coming after me because someone would have called them about a person acting suspiciously, poking around farms and abandoned houses and such, I was trying to think of what I would tell them... just a tourist from France.... and them saying, "You don't sound French to me, son...". Anyway, my philosophy is : Take pictures now, then run !

Thanks so much for stopping in...

Owen said...

Hi Genie, well, I felt guilty causing so much sleep deprivation, and I figured you all deserved to know the whole story... and you are all still "the Best" ! Yeah, eons ago, and it must have been quite a job to get up there on the sides of those barns to paint, while being careful not to spit tobacco juice in the paint pot !

Guess I'll have to go further back in Virginia's blogs to find a shot of Meeps ?

Owen said...

Dear LGS, I'm sure Stephen King could have had a field day here... I imagine you've read all of his work ? You probably even know that he named one of his sons Owen Philip... apparently Owen Philip King is also a writer. Anyway, I can't fault Stephen King's excellent taste in choosing a name for a son. And at one point in the story "IT", a certain Owen Phillips makes a cameo appearance... Some people would say there must be a connection. I guess it's just coincidence. Or not...
:-)

Owen said...

Hey Chris ! Thanks, and nice to see you here in this Arctic white comment box.

And thanks for leaving the link here to the main page of American Photographs, I'd only been on the blog page until now... will be looking around, and will be doing a plug shortly on the blog to encourage the good people who visit the Magic Lantern from time to time to mosy on over your way... here's a sneak preview...

*********************************
********News Flash***************
*********************************
Excellent new photo website at :

http://american-photographs.com/#home/

*********************************
*********************************

Owen said...

Hi Oakland...

Yeah, it's the "chaw" part that makes me go "UGH" too !

Copenhagen ; how awful to associate that lovely city's name with foul brown juice spit copiously into what ever receptacle might be handy, or worse, on the ground... And Red Man was the other popular one way back when. Don't know if that is still around. Horrible stuff.

Owen said...

Gary... many thanks, the barn was beautiful, in the Susquehannah River valley area...

Owen said...

Hi Laurie, Fortunately for all of us chewing tobacco doesn't seem to have caught on in Europe. It's a profoundly rural American thing. And yes... YUK !

Owen said...

Steve, well, mostly, no, not really, but then again, if Keira Knightley or Gwyneth Paltrow or someone like that came up to me with brown spit running down her chin, and needed to be kissed at that moment in time, I'd probably be seriously torn...

Owen said...

Hi Gabriela, yes, absolutely, concrete would not work here.

Owen said...

Bonjour Pastelle, et oui ! C'est ça le but; de créer des photos dans lesquelles on a envie de rentrer dedans, pour aller voir de plus près, et toucher. Ce chat noir, il crevait d'envie que quelqu'un vient le caresser, car d'habitude, les gens fuient les chats noirs... je ne sais pas pourquoi, d'ailleurs.

Owen said...

Hey Myth Man,
Yes, the patina is where it's at ! That coffee can on the porch sounds gross, but was probably fairly common in many places.

There are entire websites devoted to Mail Pouch Barns, apparently, which I should have guessed. Google makes it so easy for us to find out just about everything about anything...

http://www.ohiobarns.com/mpbarns/

http://www.thebarnjournal.org/people/004/index.html

I wonder how much they paid for the advertising space...

Owen said...

Dearest Lynne, I've been terrified for some time now at the amazing workings of your unfettered mind...

But of course, go right ahead, and count some of the ways, flattery will get you everywhere... maybe even a trip to see the barn in question. I could probably find it again.

Owen said...

Ah Mary Ann, a slight hint of nostalgia ? I'm with you. We've taken away the romance from so much of life. And replaced it with... plastic.

One of my favorite songs starts out :

Gone are the days when the ox fell down, pick up the yoke and plow the field around, gone are the days when the ladies said please...

And so on... (Brown Eyed Women... Grateful Dead)

...louciao... said...

1. The texture of the barnwood
2. The hues of the wood
3. The prickliness of the vines
4. The downward reaching vine lines
5. How the downward lines from the barnwoods meet and taper into the vines, drawing the eye down and into the centre area of the picture
6. The wood combined with the brick!
7. The many different textures and tones within that wall
8. The different rhythms set up by the uneven shapes and sizes of the brics
9. The incongruity of the small window
10. The interplay of the graphic, rectangular and linear elements of the composition
11. The linear fence posts leading the eye back up and into the central area of the composition
12. The shock of that brilliant green, which at first appears manmade but upon reflection must be a vibrant moss created by Nature
13. The natural, organic element of the brilliant green grass framing the bottom of the picture
14. The inherent theme of Nature embracing/altering the manmade (weather-worn elements, vines, moss, grass)
15. The horizontal emphasis given to the bottom portion of the composition by the boards piled behind the "fence"
16. Again, that fence in how it is broken, isolated, yet integrated in the piece, much as an artist's mark-making technique might be employed in a painting
17. The cat!
18. And, of course, I love that it's an "Owen Photo" and that you went out and found it for us all.

So, you see why I don't always go into details about what might please me about your photos?
Okay, my bag is packed. When do we leave?

Gwen Buchanan said...

Gorgeous textural compositions!

Owen said...

Dear Lynne, I knew you were dangerous !

By golly, if you keep up like that, Google/Blogger is going to have get much bigger computer servers to house all the additional memory they'll be needing ! It could impact their financial results for several years to come. Putting a damper on the entire technology sector. Causing a worldwide recession even larger than 2008/2009...

Yep. Dangerous !
:-)

I wouldn't hold your breath for too long with your bags packed though, Toads have trouble hopping through the deep snow...
:-)

Deborah said...

Well I might have had half a chance to leave a decent comment but once I read Lynne's, it was game over.

Yes.
Yes.
and many more yesses. I did love the cat, too. Black is my favourite kind. I bet you have a linen sportcoat/blazer, Owen. Or something equally texture-y.

...louciao... said...

Well, you asked! Okay then, to make up for my gross overuse of Google/Blogger bandwith I've racked up here, my grandstanding usurption of your comment box allotment, to say nothing of the extreme stretch I've put on your attention span, I will refrain from leaving a comment on your next 18 postings. I've mulled it over while unpacking my bag and feel that this is the right and noble gesture that must be made.

James said...

I love these shots! I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing old barns or ghost signs. I'm also a big fan of cats and this one did a great job posing. :)

Owen said...

Bonjour Chrys !
Je pense que toi et Lynne Louciao raisonnent de la même manière... qui est une bonne façon de raisonner. Merci bcp !!!

Owen said...

Chère Céline, je pense moi aussi que tu as dit que le meilleur était à venir... et voilà. Mais bon, ce n'est pas fini, non plus. Pour moi, le meilleur est bien à présent, mais j'espère encore mieux pour demain !

Merci bcp pour ce petit mot sympa, qui me met dans la compagnie de Merlin...

Doit courir maintenant, il y a des amis qui viennent dîner, pour goûter ce que la grenouille a préparer cet après-midi... j'ai vu des coquilles St Jacques dans l'affaire, et je ne sais pas quoi d'autre... mais on vient de me sommer de venir ouvrir quelques bouteilles.... de riesling... à bientôt

Owen said...

Dearest Roxana,
"Surprise and delight"... I like that much better than a phrase we heard in past years in the press quite a bit, in other circumstances, which was : "shock and awe".

I hope there are signs of Spring starting to appear in Eastern Europe just as there are here. Our forsythia is already flowering, a harbinger of good things to come.

Owen said...

Hi Mr Charleston, I think Mail Pouch was headquartered in West Virginia, as opposed to East Virginia, and I guess both are somewhere between "northern" and "deep south". In any case, the USA is definitely a country full of beautiful barns, many with beautiful decorations, even when from another era. Would love to see Rock City someday, as well as a barn or two exhorting one to do so... sounds like a rocking place !

Owen said...

Hi Margaret, yes indeed, that black cat sure gets around, from Père Lachaise to central Pennsylvania, he keeps popping up along my path. And bringing good luck as well. Just finding this barn was a stroke of good luck, it would have been very easy for me to miss it, down the side road where it was... And yes, very hard to say what is healthy these days, so much unnatural stuff out there... so much plastic...

Owen said...

Ah Nathalie, c'est dangereux de demander des choses comme ça... il y a encore des photos du voyage aux US, il se peut que tu l'auras, l'encore demandé... au plaisir...
:-)

Owen said...

Dear Nevine, most everywhere I go, cats come out of the woodwork. Either there are a hell of a lot of cats on this planet, or maybe I was born with a cat-attractor gene. As for the chewing tobacco, in French there is an expression when something is not very attractive, about it being a "remedy for love"... it could perhaps apply here. Hard to imagine falling in love with someone with a big lump in their cheek who periodically emits a long thick stream of brown spit. Although, then again, Clint Eastwood, in his film The Outlaw Josey Wales, tried hard to work the tobacco spitting bit into the film in an amusing, if not very attractive manner. Anyway, it was the peeling, faded, weathered paint which got my attention here, the letters could have spelled just about anything.

Owen said...

Hey Springman, What I wouldn't give to be able to see the inside of every barn in America. The amount of unbelievable stuff that must be hiding in such places would surely blow our minds...

Ah, yes, the romantic medical history of bleeding patients. Sometimes, I believe, it was even done by placing leeches on them. Ugh ! There is a medical history museum at one of the Paris medical schools in downtown Paris. Some of the instruments in that museum will make your hair stand on end. There is much to love about the past, including oftentimes the fact that it is just that... the past.

Owen said...

Dear Stickup,
Actually, that black cat is a pet, and I take him everywhere. He's the only cat I know who actually comes when he's called.

(ps... don't believe everything I say, I'm sometimes prone to fits of artistic license and hyperbole)

Owen said...

Renée, thanks so much. They are noble creatures. I don't know how they got such a bad reputation, they're dying for affection and attention just like every other colored cat out there, even if they pretend to be aloof.
:-)

Owen said...

Hey Mythops... I will try to be careful. But even the street address of the house I live in is #13.

No wonder black cats come out to see me. It's a wonder I've survived as long as I have.
:-)

Owen said...

Hi Gwen... thanks a million. Hope the snow isn't slowing down your wonderful creativity...

Owen said...

Hi Deborah ! Good to see you out and about, I was wondering if you'd fallen into a mountain snowdrift or somesuch.

Ah, I see you've recognized the master commenting power which our friend (and virtual big sister) Lynne possesses. She is sheer trouble when she gets her fingers warmed up on a keyboard and her mind warmed up on... well, on whatever it is that warms up her mind. But watch out when she starts typing. Or drawing. Or painting... I call it : Lynne-spiration !

Owen said...

Dearest Lynne,
I just posted and deleted in quick succession a total of 18 blog articles, so I guess that means you can come out of your self imposed asylum in the raccoon hibernation room... you know I couldn't survive for long without the regular doses of pure oxygen you bring with you from those snowy northern woods by the sea.

Owen said...

Hi James, I think this was the same black cat we met in Père Lachaise that day back in October long ago... He pretended to be playing hard to get, but finally he was a sucker for a camera !

Hope all is well in your corner of PA, Spring on the way and all...

Elisa said...

I like these photos so much.. I think I like all your photos. I am happy to see what is life there, thank you for that. Have a nice week ;) BTW we have only -3 now..

Deborah said...

Oh dear Louciano...plese don't think I interpreted your wonderful comment as anything so impolitic as 'grandstanding'! Far from it.

You just saved me a lot of trouble to write out my thoughts, being of a like mind and all.