Posts Tagged ‘Craighead twins’

Craighead Exhibit at Historical Society

August 15, 2014

Yesterday, Cumberland County Historical Society videotaped an interview of me for their oral history project and for the upcoming exhibit on the Craigheads. The video is to be in conjunction with the artifacts displayed in the two large cabinets in Todd Hall from September through January. I talked about a dozen different topics related to the Craigheads, beginning with their emigrating from Ulster to Boston in the American colonies in 1714 and settling in Cumberland County in the 1730s. The topics selected are related to the various portions of the exhibit visitors will see (if I can fit them all into the cabinets). Jean Craighead George’s writing desk, which Craighead House is loaning for the exhibit, will sit between the cabinets, helping with the space problem a bit.

The backpack Frank Craighead Jr. made for Johnston Coyle fits snugly but is an interesting artifact of which I first became aware when reading an article in a University of Michigan alumni magazine that included the photograph below. Following up on the article, I learned that Frank Jr. and John made a number of these backpacks for their families and friends. I also learned that the canvas portion was made by Maslands—the Craigheads are close friends with the Maslands. Dave Masland informed me that, during WWII when there was zero demand for automobile carpet, his father converted the plant to producing canvas duck and quickly became the country’s largest producer. This fabric was used in tents, jackets, and numerous other products.

We still need some artifacts for the exhibit: a falconer’s glove, an ex, and a ball of cord, all in used condition. If you can lend us any of these, please let me know.

Babies at Big House

Babies in The Big House


Typesetting The Summer of the Falcon

May 31, 2014

A significant part of the work we do on Craighead House Committee toward preserving Craighead House at this stage involves finding ways to raise money to fund repairs and to pay off the mortgage. A recent task for me was to typeset a book, which required me to learn a little about typesetting. Jean Craighead George’s heirs graciously allowed Craighead House Committee to reprint The Summer of the Falcon, a book that was set in Craighead House in the 1930s. No professional typesetting agreed to donate his services, so it fell on me to get the job done. Not wanting to invest the substantial amount of money required to license Adode’s professional typesetting software, I studied Perfect Pages, a book by Aaron Shepard on typesetting with Microsoft Word, a word-processing program not intended for book production. Shepard convinced me that I could do a credible job with Word, especially for a relatively simple book to typeset.

I started off by sending an old copy of the book to be scanned into a text file to eliminate the extremely tedious job, especially so for a slow, error-prone typist, of typing the entire text. Scanning is an imperfect process. I had to correct numerous errors from the scanning process and an experienced proofreader donated fifty hours of her time finding the errors I missed and those I introduced. Through trial and error, I eventually got headers and footers to appear as they would appear on professionally-typeset books: on the bottoms of the first pages of chapters and on the tops of the rest of the pages, except those that only contained photos, which have neither headers or footers. I scanned Jean’s drawing from a book and cleaned up spots introduced by the scanning process. I placed her drawings at the beginnings of chapters as she had done decades ago. I also included photos given me by family members to illustrate sections of the text.

I used a 1933 group photo of the Craigheads for the cover because, although classified as fiction, the book is autobiographical in nature and the characters are thinly-disguised versions of family members. To assist readers, I created a cross-reference that tied characters to real-life names to images on the cover and inserted it as a frontispiece. The finished books arrived from the printer this week. Readers have especially appreciated this key to the characters in the book.

I closed the book out with reflections on the house and family that were written by friends and family members. These musings summarize what the people and place meant to those writing them. At $10 a copy, this book is quite a bargain and can be purchased at

Front cover

Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch

October 22, 2009

The connection between the topic of this message and my work is tenuous to say the least, but it caught my eye. Readers may find it to be informative. A friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, along with some friends, made a trip through the western states in the late 1940s. One of his stops was Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch. I thought little more about that until I read that the Craighead twins also stopped there on their way to catch a ship to Indian for their famous trip to visit their friend, Bapa, who was an Indian prince. They documented their stop at the “ranch” in Life with an Indian Prince, their account of the trip. My friend may have shared some knowledge about this attraction with the twins before their trip because they had confined their previous travel to places where wildlife could be studied. This time they studied a different kind of wildlife.

No, the “ranch” was not in Nevada. It was an attraction with the Golden Gate International Exposition that was held in 1939 and 1940 at Treasure Island in San Francisco. This event was also known as the 1939 San Francisco World’s Fair. Rather than being located on the Great Plains or some grassy meadow, Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch was housed in a nightspot known as The Music Box. The Music Box was in the Treasure Island Amusement Zone, the place where “flesh” shows were found. The area was also known as the “Gayway.” But that wasn’t where it always was.

In 1936, Sally advertised across Texas for a few attractive young girls to work at her NUDE RANCH in Fort Worth, Texas. The bold-faced type surely eliminated any confusion that potential applicants may have had about what the work entailed at this Depression-era enterprise. Her requirements were also clear: “Can be any height. Perfect figures necessary. Highest salaries paid.”

For those interested in knowing more, follow this link: