Archived Story

Some color for the TLT story

Published 3:23pm Friday, July 16, 2010

Your scribe enjoyed reading about the Tryon Little Theater on the inside back page of the Bulletin for July 7.&bsp; But like the nostalgia e-mails I have written about, these accounts just dont go back far enough for this OLD guy. The 45-rpm discs with the big hole were new-fangled to one who remembers hand-cranked Victrolas that played quarter-inch thick records with grooves on only one side.

Likewise, the beautiful brick building by Little Creek on US 176 that younger Jeff remembers as housing a furniture store before TLT utilized it briefly was home to Mountain Industries when I was a boy. There were probably two dozen hand looms in there, operated tirelessly by local women to make cloth to be sold in craft and gift stores such as Blue Ridge Weavers in Tryon.

This budding engineer was fascinated by the looms, and had to go back for another look when he could not figure out how the warp threads could be crossed and recrossed with a trough running through the shed to carry the shuttle back and forth. Turns out the trough was UNDER the shed, and the pointed ends of the shuttle allowed it to ride on the lower threads of the shed while still guided by the sides of the trough. I realize you would have to be there to understand this, and the best I can do in a 700-word column is to send you to the Internet and the Wikipedia article on hand looms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loom.

The building was quite noisy, what with the wood levers slapping the shuttle back and forth, and the loud swish of the heddles raising half of the threads to open the shed for the shuttle to pass. I cannot imagine ladies being able to do this all morning and again all afternoon, feet alternately pushing down heavily on treadles to open the shed, right arm yanking a rope to slap the shuttle through, and the left arm pulling the beam with reeds attached to tighten the fill yarn against the finished cloth. They got a bit of a break when they had to tighten up the roll of finished cloth. I think they worked fast and hard because they probably were paid by how much cloth they wove rather than by the hour!

Not only hand weaving, but carding and spinning were commonplace in homes when I was a boy in the 30s. All the females I knew made quilts and did some form of knitting, crocheting or tatting. Even Mama Rippy, who worked like a field hand in her vegetable and flower gardens, did beautiful needlework when she could make time for it.&bsp; She also liked to put jig-saw puzzles together, and when she had assembled My Old Kentucky Home many times, with its numerous identical windows and shrubs, she put it together once with the gray side up!

Now to the younger Ritas account, I will add what the late Betty Doubleday Frost told me about the Drama Fortnightly: It began by gathering for script readings around a table. Soon friends started coming just to listen, and then the readers began to plan ahead and memorize their parts so that the lovers would not be hampered by their scripts and bifocals. Lead characters soon began to dress for their parts, and by then the audience size and a desire for sets to complete the illusion of reality required a theatre building.

I think the fine arts have flourished in Our Area because so many talented people have chosen to live here. I suppose they attract each other, and some of them even have the means to foot the large bills associated with bringing their love of the arts to life. My mother and Aunt Mildred did not cram culture down my throat, but rather shared their love of music and the fine arts with me so that I would come to love them too. I thank the people of Tryon for providing one of the best secondary school systems anywhere, and for bringing the likes of Mrs. Mazzy here to broaden our education to include the fine arts.

May the Tryon Little Theater and The Fine Arts Center continue to enrich our lives for years to come.

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