Category: Cultural History

Folklife: Cooking Up a Batch of Poke Salet Brings Fond Memories


You know the old saying, “You need poke salet to thin your blood and get you ready for the summer”? This spring tonic is a controversial nefarious weed. More than likely growing wild in your backyard, Pokeweed has been a southern delicacy for centuries.  You won’t find this weed on an official list of edible native plants.  This wild green comes with a warning label due to its relation to the nightshade plant.  But yet, every spring “poke salad” fanciers gather the young shoots despite the warning label.

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Retro Cinema: 1949 How to Build an Igloo in 40 Minutes



The igloo or “iglu” is a temporary winter shelter built by native Eskimos to use for winter hunting camps. From the Arctic to as far west as the Aleutian Islands of Alaska and as far east as the western coastline of Greenland, the igloo structure evolved through trial and error over hundreds of years. Without the aid of math or engineering theories, igloos have been constructed with only a long sharp blade knife to cut the snow block.

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Viscious, Rude and Crude: Vinegar Valentines and Penny Dreadfuls

Not all Valentine cards once received were a warm welcome of sweet sentiments from your adoring admirer. If you were the unlucky recipient of a vinegar valentine, these cards expressed everything except love. Filled with bitterly sarcastic illustrations, these vicious, rude and crude sentiments that were meant to spike humor were so penny dreadful.

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Food for the Soul: Growing Up in the Collard Culture


Collards are a unique vegetable that shares a common glory between black, white and Native American people. Collards are celebrated on all sides of the southern family table. Collards are the pearl of the Real South that unites us rather than divides us.

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How The Great Depression and Walt Disney Made Haunted Houses a Cult Icon


Leaving your front porch light on for trick-or-treater’s has a more sinister history behind the tradition.

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Flu Masks and Onions: Wacky Cures and Remedies During the 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic


Between 1918 and early 1919, Spanish influenza became the deadliest plague since the Black Death of the Middle Ages. 

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Folklife: The little wartime pamphlet that sold over 3 million copies in 1943


The best selling book of 1943 was a little pamphlet entitled “Victory Garden” published by the Department of Agriculture. With the recent events of “The Great Pause” of 2020, quarantined families are beginning to get back to gardening and growing their own food. With possible food shortages amid the COVID19 pandemic on the rise, this is nothing new for Americans.

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Folklife: The Forgotten Custom of Women Proposing to Men During Leap Year

The custom of women proposing to men during Leap Year is traced back to a legend of St. Patrick. So girls get out your scarlet flannel petticoats and make a date with your local justice of the peace!  No worries fellas! You can blame the Scots for declaring it open season on bachelors.

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Appalachian Legend: The Wild West Stagecoach Bandit Who Couldn’t Ride a Horse

An Appalachian legend in his own right and Kentucky native George Brittain Lyttle aka Dick Fellows aka Richard Perkins, turned out to be the most famous stagecoach bandit of the wild west that couldn’t ride a horse!   

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Vintage Christmas: Remembering the Sears Christmas Wish Book


The arrival of the Sears Christmas Wish Book began the start of the holiday season in our household.  As a child, I remember spending hours looking through the pages of the catalog plotting my Christmas wish list.  Having to share it with my four other siblings was another story. 

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