Saturday, March 18, 2006

Whoop Ass Art Festival

No, there's no Whoop Ass Art Festival -at least not yet. Today's entry is too different things.

First, I thought I'd give you a history of the term Whoop Ass.

This is something you don't find much on the internet, and probably not in too many books. It's an old term, but not that old. Take a close look at this picture:

That tractor isn't too dissimilar to this one:
Okay, it's not dissimilar. The paint is the only real difference. These tractors are steam engines, much like steam locomotives. Steam tractors go back as far as the 1830's. I think this one is from the early 1920's. Look close at the first picture. There's a long belt going from the small wheel above the right-back tire, or iron wheel. The strap was a long piece of spliced leather. Instead of buying more steam powered farm equipment, other companies made add-ons, or to use the computer metaphore, peripherials. You simply attached the belt to the wheel of the tractor, ran the belt to the other equipment (in the first photo, I think it's a bailer), back the tractor up to tighten the belt, put the thing in neutral, and cranked the beast up.
With even a slight bit of slack, the belt had a whoop, whoop, whoop, whoop sound. With more slack, the belt would slap against itself, and make a whoop/crack, whoop/crack sound. Over time, the belt would frey, and eventually break apart. I'm sure the original name of the belt was more technical, but it came to be called The Whoop, from the sound it made.

Back then, most people didn't waste things, like we do today. Even things that broke apart were somehow recycled. When the whoop broke, people would make smaller belts for their pants, shoes, straps to carry heavy things, and anything else pieces of thick leather would make.

Usually, the father of the family would fashion a wide belt, with a handle end, put pieces of wood on the handle, and used it around the farm -though I have no idea what for. When a farmer's child misbehaved, the farm told the boy to shape up, or he'd get the whoop, and take it to his behind. Roughneck farmers would say, "Boy, get yo nog a crackin, or I'll take dat whoop to yo ass." I have no idea what a nog is, but I imagine they meant noggin or head. Eventually, they just said, "Boy, I'm gonna whoop yo ass."

Over time, the steam tractors and their belt driven accessories gave way to modern equipment, but the term Whoop remained with the smaller, handled belt. And the farmers still made their whoop, and when necessary, took it to their kids ass.

I've actually seen a tractor like that when I was really young. It was at a museum, somewhere in Georgia, or maybe it was Tennessee. I overheard the curator talking to my Granddad, Saint Elmer Thompson (not yet sainted, of course....we're working on that), and his friend, Mac McDonald (yes, McDonald had a farm- soybeans and peanuts). I didn't recall the conversation till I saw a picture of tractor a few years ago.

Okay, so I'm no Paul Harvey, but now you know.....The Rest of the Story. Now shape up, or I'll take you out behind the radio station, and open-a-can-o-whoop-ass on ya.

Art Festival
Today, we did the judging and awards. Yesterday, Nancy and I escorted one of the judges around the festival, from 8 to 6. I was tired, but I learned a lot about art -which is why I wanted to join the festival.

This morning, the artist that were selected for judging brought the selected piece to nearby museum pavillion, and choose the awards. There was bickering, irritation, and a few mishaps (not between the judges, rather between us volunteers), but we worked through everything, and got the job done. We had some errors that told us we need a procedure for this or that. Most of our procedures worked fine in the past, but things are changing, even judging art, and we're adapting to new trends.

Click on my flickr banner on the right of the page, and you'll see the best of show. I don't know much about the fiber catagory, but I liked the way it smelled. Guess I've been around dogs too much.


Anonymous said...

I know you pretty well...lately you've been pretty what with working 2 jobs and going to I must ask....
When the hell do you have time to think of even researching these things?!! OMG!! I get home from a 9 hour work day, spend the next 3 hours trying to converse with my 16 year old and it's all I can do to keep my eyes open for that!!! Is it possible you STILL have too much time on your hands?? LOL!!!

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Danny said...

Actually, I didn't have to do much research. All I needed to do was find pictures of the steam engine tractors, especially ones with an actual Whoop. Took all of about 15 minutes, if that. Took more time to actually write it than research it. That, and I'm getting good at finding things online.

1 of the other x's