Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Mountain Monograms...U Ever Wonder Y?

Mountain Monograms!
Pleasant Grove's "G" with Mount Timpanogos looming above.

For as long as I can remember, the big white "G" on the mountainside east of my hometown of American Fork, Utah has been a part of the landscape of my life.  Every time my parents would take us on a drive we watched for the "G" that presided over the neighboring town of Pleasant Grove.  I always wondered what it meant.  What did that big "G" stand for?  One late summer night I looked out the window and was amazed and enchanted...the "G" was all aglow. That was when I learned that the "G" stood for Pleasant Grove High School and that it was all lit up for Homecoming.

The "G" from the hiking trail.

According to Wikipedia, in 1921, a group of seniors put a block letter "G" on an unnamed peak west of Mount Timpanogos.  The first time it was lit was in 1929.  There was once a Pleasant Grove holiday called "G Day" when the letter would be lighted and the townsfolk would celebrate.  The holiday was discontinued due to revelers causing damage to the football field.  Recently students raised $5,500 in a "Light the G" fundraiser to keep the icon lit on special occasions such as homecoming and graduation.

Why a G instead of a P?
It bothered me a lot back then, that Pleasant Grove used a G instead of a P.  It just didn't make sense to me.  I was doing some research online today and I think I may have come across the answer.  In the high school's early years, their mascot was known as the Pleasant Grove "Grover."  in 1959, the mascot was changed to the "Valkyrie" and eventually became the "Viking" which is the mascot today.

Distribution of Mountain Monograms Across the West
Notice the line of dots along the I-15 Corridor.

Mountain Monograms
The hillsides and mountainsides of Utah and other western states are adorned with big block letters...like the Block U of the University of Utah and the giant Y above Brigham Young University. Lately I have wondered why there are so many of them?  I wasn't even aware there was a term for such things...Mountain Monograms.  A definition from Wikipedia states "Hillside letters or mountain monograms are a form of geoglyph (more specifically hill figures) common in the American West. These are typically created and maintained by schools and towns.  Ranging in size from a few feet to hundreds of feet tall, they are an important part of western culture, symbols of school pride and community identity.  Water towers play a similar role in other parts of the country.  There is a popular myth that hillside letters were built so that early pilots could identify towns from the air in order to drop off "air mail."

The Big "C" in Berkley, California

Berkley's Big "C"...The First Mountain Monogram
According to online sources, the first three mountain monograms erected were due to class rivalries at universities.  The first letter was built in 1905 on Charter Hill overlooking the UC Berkley campus as a means of ending an unruly rivalry between the classes of 1907 and 1908.

The "Block U" of the University of Utah.
Size...a little over 100 ft. tall.

The "Block U."
A few weeks following the (1905) building of the Berkley "C,"  class rivalry between the sophomore and freshman classes of the University of Utah produced a hillside "U."
Students Repainting the "Block U."

The "Y" of Brigham Young University
The "Y" is 322 ft. in height and 120 feet wide.

"Y Mountain."
The following year, 1906,  Brigham Young University proposed the first 3-lettered hillside emblem, "BYU." After building the letter "Y", the school decided that it would be too much work to build the remaining letters.

Students apply hot lime...1908

Dr. Harvey Fletcher, the renowned scientist who graduated from BYU in 1907, wrote about the first Y Day in 1906, "The students stood in a zig zag line about 8 feet apart stretching from the bottom of the hill to the site of the Y.  The first man took the bag of lime, sand or rocks and carried it 8 feet and handed it to the next man.  The second carried it another 8 feet and handed it to the third man and thus the bag went up the hill, each man shuttling back and forth along his 8-foot portion of the trail."

This year Brigham Young University finally became the owner of Y Mountain.  Representative Jason Chaffetz sponsored a bill that was passed by Congress, allowing BYU to purchase the 80 acres surrounding the "Y."

Hillside Letters Across the West...
Even the fictional western town of Radiator Springs has a mountain monogram.

Closer View.

Hillside letters have been a part of my life for so long that I really didn't pay much attention to them any more...until recently.  Pulling out of the drive-thru of the Boulder City Mickey D's, I noticed this on a rocky mountainside:
Boulder City, Nevada.

It was like a bolt out of the blue...there had to be a story in these letters that seem to be everywhere! On my drive home I noticed letters on the hillsides of Parowan, Beaver, Fillmore, Nephi and Payson...and there are many more.  There are an estimated 72 hillside letters, messages and acronyms across the state of Utah...over 500 across the West and Canada.   For example, there are 81 in California, 45 in Nevada, 59 in Arizona and 34 in Idaho.  The densest concentrations are found along the Mormon Corridor in Utah, Idaho and the Los Angeles Basin.

Hole N' The Rock...tourist attraction near Moab.

On your next vintage vacation in the Old West, keep your eyes peeled for hillside letters.  They could be found in any little town with a big hill or mountain nearby.  I can't wait for my next car trip!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Baby Dot...Vintage Baby Powder Doll!

Vintage Baby!
I love the soft colors of vintage baby cards!

When I was expecting my third daughter Sascha in the 1980's I was mad for all things Vintage Baby!
I decorated her nursery corner with vintage baby dresses hanging on the wall and a vignette of baby care items on her dresser...little pink containers for cotton balls and baby pins, tiny brush and comb.  Every thing for Sascha was soft aqua and pink.  I still love the soft colors of vintage baby cards and baby care items like baby powder containers.  Some of the graphics are amazing...I only had the basic Johnson's Baby Powder.

The variety is endless!

My friend Dorothy sent me a pin one day...a vintage baby tin that I immediately felt needed to be repurposed into one of my vintage tin characters.  I wrote back that it needed a doll head and arms. From her response of "Mercy!" I gathered that it sounded a bit creepy...lol!  I already had an old composition Patsy doll that was in pretty bad shape.  The sawdust and glue was starting to deteriorate so I though it might be fun for a creepy Halloween project.

I found a darling baby powder container from 1936 at a Salt Lake antique mall.  The brand was "Baby Dot."  I wish I had taken a pic of the container before I transformed it.

Baby Dot!
She's about 8 inches tall.

Close-up of Powder Container

Rear View

Side View
The top of Patsy's head was crumbling.
The bonnet is made from a vintage plastic Easter party favor.

So that's the story behind Baby Dot.  I went on a tin buying binge yesterday, so there will be some odd new characters coming up in the next few months.  It is so strange when Easter is in March.  It leaves April all dressed up with no place to go.  I leave up a lot of my spring decor until Mother's Day, so things look cheerful even when it's a rainy day.  Spring is definitely taking her time this year as I know many of you will attest.

Happy Spring!

PS: Some darling vintage baby images for you...

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fun With Friends...Craft Day!

Beautiful Basket of Chicks!
I think this is my favorite Easter postcard.

Have you noticed that the longer one goes without posting, the harder it is to get going again?  I had to literally force myself to sit down at the computer and start editing pictures for this blog post.  I have so many stories in the hopper that I need to work on...some from as long ago as last March!  Lazy?  Or is it Spring Fever?  Yesterday my daughter Amber told me a word that she learned from a German co-worker...Fruhjahrsmude.  This means essentially "Spring Fever."  Amber tends to get Fruhjahrsmude every February so we've always called it her "February Meltdown."

One way to fight Fruhjahresmude is to get together with a group of crafty friends and craft something so stinkin' cute that it lifts your spirits for days afterward.  I have been fortunate to be welcomed into a fun group that meets monthly at the home of Jann Olsen of Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson in Alpine.  She has a beautiful home just filled to the brim with wonderful things!  Our last meeting was March 15 and it was my turn to teach a craft.  I had so much fun a couple of years ago making things out of potato mashers...inspired by Pinterest...that I chose Easter Mashers as my craft.

 March Craft Day...Easter Mashers!
Oh, the lowly potato masher...what can you become?

My Masher Trio.

The idea is to use the masher as the platform for a tart tin or a nest and build the arrangement around it.  I love picking up mashers from the thrifts, so I had a few to spare for those who couldn't find one.  I made the red one two years ago.

Easter Parade of Mashers!
Each is as beautiful and individual as the woman who made it.

Masher Press Conference...lol!

Simple Easter/Spring Garland.

We also made these pretty and simple shabby garlands with Easter graphics, scrapbook paper, lace doilies and rick rack.  The paper circles are 3" in diameter and it takes about 2 yards of rick rack.

February Craft Day!
My Spring Basket.

February 16 was the first time we got together.  Talented friend, Joanne Martin, showed us how to make beautiful baskets using peat pots or berry baskets.  We brought tons of crepe paper and embellishments to attempt the ultimate in Easter cuteness.  Everyone was a winner!

Spring lambs were a favorite theme.

Every fashionable chick needs a party hat!

Easter Parade lined up for the photo shoot.
I wish I had taken more pictures. 
For more pics go to Jann's Post.

Paula of Pollyanna Reinvents showed us how to replicate
German Putz Sheep with Sculpy and light quilt batting like Warm and Natural.
She also has a lot of fun photos on her post.

New Easter Find...Candy Colored Vintage Bunny! 
I found her at Retro Betty, a darling vintage shop in Salt Lake City.

I'm so happy I was able to post before Easter!
Have a Blessed Holiday!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

"Jack Valentine"...and a Few Valentine's Treats!

Punch-out Valentines were my favorite!

I loved Valentine's Day as a child.  In school we would spend a day decorating old shoe boxes with construction paper hearts and stickers.  We struggled cutting out hearts with those blunt scissors and usually got more paste in our hair than on our boxes.  There were usually a few kids who enjoyed the sweet minty taste of the school paste...myself included!  In my mind my finished box was a work of art...but probably looked something like this...

I liked to wander around the room admiring...critiquing...all the other boxes.  I imagined that there would be a special card left in my box by a secret admirer.

Typical Grade School Party.
The 60's were my era.

The party above was probably a lot more fun than the ones I remember.  The last hour of school was set aside for us to line up and "deliver the mail."  We all seemed to get an equal amount of cards and teacher made sure no one was left out.  I worried about that...there were usually a few quiet and shy children in the class.  I wasn't quiet, but I was a bit shy.  We usually got a heart-shaped cookie that someone's mom had made, then we gathered up our boxes and went home.  It was fun to sit on the floor and open the cards.  Some had a few conversation hearts sealed inside the envelope, but I don't remember a lot of candy in the stores, except for the heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.  I eagerly read each card with Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone and others seeking a secret message from my admirer, but "I Choo-Choo-Choose You" wasn't exactly a confession of undying love!

Jack Valentine...
Who is Jack?  

Until this morning I had never heard of a character called "Jack Valentine."  I was online looking for Valentine's trivia as a possible blog topic, when I came across several mentions of Jack. Jack is a folk character from Norfolk in eastern England.  He is sometimes known as Old Father Valentine. In Victorian times in Norfolk, Valentine's Eve was almost as important to children (and hopeful lovers) as Christmas with anonymous gifts from secret admirers or parents.

Dressed in a top hat and tails, Jack Valentine would knock upon the door and leave presents for the expectant child.  Sometimes Jack would play tricks upon the children and tie string to the gift, so when the child reached for it, he would jerk it away.  After the children were thoroughly frustrated, Jack would let go of the string and let them have the gift.  But they must never look for him.  Some children found the idea of Jack a bit frightening.

This story of Jack brought back a few Valentine's memories from my own childhood.  As much as I enjoyed the school party...it was the evening that I liked most.  When I got home from school, my mom would be putting sugar cookies on paper plates for our friends. In my old neighborhood in American Fork, it was popular to leave cards or cookies on a neighbor's porch, ring the doorbell and run.  This was also when we gave cards to children that were not in our classes.  Some tricksters would tie a string to a card and jerk it away when you tried to pick it up.  Does this sound familiar?  I had never heard of Jack Valentine...yet it seems his spirit crossed the ocean with the British pioneers who settled my home town.  What do you know?  I learn something new every day!

My Funny (Random) Valentines....

Snowmen for Valentine's.
Bethany Lowe tall snowman hat was changed with glittery red hearts.

I had so many creative intentions for Valentine's this year.  But some time in January the road got a little bumpy.  First, my father fell and broke his hip, which required surgery.  On the same day his wife, Geri, suffered a stroke that in a few weeks would take her away.  It was hard for my dad to be in a rehab center in one Chicago suburb while his wife was in ICU in another.  I am so thankful that Geri's family was on hand to help him.  When Geri passed away on the 26th, we made our plans to fly to Chicago for the funeral and to support Dad.  There are a lot of plans still to be made.  Dad will be in the center for a couple of months until he can get around, then he will be coming home to stay with us.  I'll be glad to get him here...Chicago is a whole world away from here.

In the meantime...here are the few Valentine's I was able to make this year...

Snow White Mini Fairy Garden

Alice and Bambi Mini Fairy Gardens.
I discovered that I could get miniature trees and such at Hobby Lobby in the train miniatures aisle.  Alice's tree has red "roses" added. The Queen likes them red.

Glitter Snowman Hat Ornament.

Framed Valentine's Card.
Print a vintage card 8"x 10'' on printable fabric
Paint the edge of an 8"x 10"canvas frame.
Glue the fabric to the frame and add glitter hearts and letters.
Walmart sold the frames in a 2 pack.

In the hall and on the wall...
A fast, easy project that would be a great gift!

Happy Valentine's!

Meri Wiley's Darling Valentine House!
Saw it in my file and had to share!