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Marveling at Southern pies

By Staff | Jul 17, 2009

After seeing those attractive pies at the Pierce County Fair a couple of weeks ago, I started recalling other brilliant pies I had the pleasure of meeting and enjoying. Southern pies rank in my book right up there with cured country ham!

Several years ago, I took a week-long class in the Carolinas in the art of hand-coloring black and white photographs. Long before there was color film, photographs were tinted or hand-painted using oil paints to add color to them. Many of you in the Rugby area have beautiful hand-colored photographs done by the gifted hands and eyes of oil-colorist Maxine Strand. Curt and Maxine Strand started Strand Studio in 1948 on the corner of 9th and Main in Rugby. At that time, all photographs were done in black and white. However, photographs which contained color were touched by the hands of Maxine. I know that Maxine colored enough photographs to reach to the moon and back to earth several times over!

I have always admired hand-colored photographs and to this day consider them to be the epitome of fine photography. With our current age of digital photography and Photoshop, there is still not a program that can compare to a well-done hand-colored photograph. I will agree that both digital and Photoshop can help us enhance our images to be colored. It is, however, the touch of the hands and the artistic eye of the oil colorist that will make the image remarkable and almost everlasting. I have been in many homes in Rugby which still display the fine hand-coloring work that Maxine created, and I always am in awe.

Today hand-coloring is considered a fine art, and many make their sole living at it. What a dream this would be! Each day you stroll to work, knowing you are creating works of art. I once visited a darling studio in Boston where the only work they produced was hand-coloring.

Let me share with you the setting for the studio. It was basement studio which had a large stairwell exposed to the busy street. A sturdy, encrusted black wrought iron stair railing served as the barrier between you and the large covered window where the colorist sat doing his art. Passersby would stop with packages in their hands and cast their eyes down as the colorist brought the dormant, vast black and white images to life with color. The worn paint box, spattered easel and snarled tubes of oil paints were signs that had stood the test of time. The day I was there the artist was coloring a beautiful image of a weathered Nantucket door complete with a trailing honeysuckle vine.

Travel with me to North Carolina. Several years ago in the heat and humidity of July, I took a hand-coloring class from an artist rival to this Boston artist. It was a week of heaven as we transformed black and white images into beautiful works of art. I could engage you with the details of this class for weeks. When you see me hand-coloring for hours on end, you know I will have reached a slice of heaven here on earth.

Each July evening we dined at local restaurants in western North Carolina in cities such as Greensboro, Thomasville, Kernersville, High Point, and Asheboro. It was easy to see that fine living and the pleasures of the table have long-standing traditions in the South. These generous meals were always followed by bountiful desserts. Any respectable restaurant had as much dessert as the southern air had humidity! I was so intrigued by the marvelous pies that I often had light meals so I could enjoy pie twice a day. This compulsive nourishment certainly delighted my taste buds – especially the buttermilk pie! I did gather great recipes for Brown Sugar Pie, Vinegar Pie, Pecan Pie, Egg Custard Pie, Sweet Potato Pie, Butterscotch Pie and Molasses Pie. I plan to share with you the day I spent at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, so that will be the perfect time to share a few more of these pie recipes.

Repnow is a Rugby


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