November 22nd, 2011

Crafting the Perfect Holiday

Christmas Display 2011_1A few days ago I started working on the decorations we will use for our holiday book display at the Elkton Central Library this year.  I am decoupaging old book pages on to a Styrofoam tree.  Will it be a success? I’m not sure at this point.  For me the joy of creating is not really being sure what you will end up with and the pleasure I receive when it turns out, hopefully, better than expected.  The other nice thing about it is that I’m recycling old books and flower pots!

Everyone is looking for ways to save money during the holidays.  One of the ways I save (and recycle) is by making my own gifts for relatives and friends out of vintage paper and fabric.  They appreciate the thought, love and effort put into the gifts, and I enjoy making them.  It, however, is not a pretty sight at my house during the “creative process.”  When an idea strikes me, I rip through the boxes and boxes of vintage paper and fabric I collect until just the right pieces come together.

The library has a wide assortment of craft books from Scherenschnitte (Papercutting) to rug hooking and many dedicated just to holiday crafts. Two of my particular favorites are Sara Toliver’s Vintage Christmas Crafts and Terry Taylor’s Altered Art.  I love the vintage quality of these two books and have made shadow boxes as gifts using ideas from both of them.  Happily, these shadow boxes have become treasured gifts, prized by the recipients.

vintage xmas gifts bookHere is a list of some other craft books available at the library that might inspire you to “craft” the perfect holiday this year.  In December all the Cecil County Public Libraries will host holiday craft programs for all ages and open houses with music and food.  We invite you to join us in celebrating the holidays.  And now is the time to check out those craft books!

What will you be crafting for the holidays?


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October 12th, 2011

Civil War Legends & Lore

Most of us know the “greater story” of the Civil War—the battles, the politics, the leaders. We’ve heard of Grant and Lee, Gettysburg and Antietam, Abe Lincoln and Jeff Davis. But it’s the “little stories”—the quirky ones about

people and events—that make this time period so fascinating even today. Some of these tales of Civil War legend and lore are funny, some sad, but they all bring a very human side to the war 150 years later.

These stories will be the focus of “Civil War Legends and Lore” at  7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 18, at the Perryville Branch Library. We’ll classify these stories as “legends and lore” because local tradition and folklore have filled in the blanks between the known facts.

Our region has no shortage of Civil War legends and lore, much of it spiced up by the fact that Cecil County residents had divided loyalties. Maryland itself was a border state, even though it is located south of the Mason-Dixon Line. In Cecil County and the rest of Maryland some were fiercely pro-Union; others were pro-Confederate to the point that they fled South to take up arms against the United States. Once war was declared, Cecil Countians for the most part supported the Union and its new president, even if they hadn’t necessarily voted for him.

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- How “mule skinners” took over the mansion and grounds at Perry Point, where the owners were pro-southern. The owners complained that Yankee officers banged up the elegant staircase with their swords.
- The C&D Canal played a huge role in the early days of the war, enabling Lincoln to bring loyal troops from “up north” to occupy Maryland after Federal troops traveling by train were attacked in Baltimore. The nervous canal superintendent in Chesapeake City constantly feared attacks by Confederate raiders.
- George Alfred Townsend spent his summers as a boy in Cecil County. The war made him famous as an Anderson Cooper-type newsman of his day who went on to be friends with Mark Twain. We’ll take a look at a story he wrote with a touch of dark humor about the topic of undertakers making their fortune after the battle of Antietam.
- A newspaper editor whose pro-Southern editorial got him marched out of town at bayonet point by Union troops and locked up in Fort McHenry.
- A Civil War romance that started when a Chesapeake City girl met a captured Confederate officer on his way to the prisoner of war camp at Fort Delaware.

As divided and cantankerous as the two sides could be here in Cecil County, one of the impressions that stands out is how people seemed to have put aside their differences after the war. It’s a lesson that shouldn’t be lost on us today as we struggle through difficult, sometimes divisive times of our own.

Interested in more Civil War programs? Make sure to check out the complete list of upcoming programs.

Have you heard Civil War legends about Cecil County? Share them with us by commenting below and we hope to see you at the program.


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