Tag Archives: Carriage Association of America

It’s a privilege

The Carriage Association of America is a terrific organization that puts out glossy, full-color publications, e-newsletters and more, keeping its membership informed and inspired by carriage history and restoration. It’s a privilege to be included in the March 2014 issue of The Carriage Journal alongside Dr. Thomas Kinney, author of The Carriage Trade. I’m doubly pleased to announce both books are carried in the CAA store along with a lot of other terrific, unique offerings. Purchases from their gift shop benefit this worthy organization. Special thanks to Jennifer Singleton for this great review.LOB Carriage Journal Review

Carriage relics and amusement rides

I’ve been following the posts at The Slower Road, a blog by the Carriage Association of America chronicling a trip of members who have been touring antique carriages all over Argentina.

The photos have reminded me how old carriages can appear in the most unlikely places, at the most unexpected times. I was just beginning research on my novel about a 19th century blacksmith and carriage maker, The Last of the Blacksmiths, when our family made a high school graduation trip with our daughter to Knott’s Berry Farm — for the amusement park rides, mind you.

But surprise, surprise, Mom got a kick out of it, too. And a leg up on my research. Knott’s Berry Farm’s Old West town and museum kept me happily preoccupied, along with the relics of old carriages everywhere I turned, mixed right in with the roller coaster rides. Even hearses, the irony of which was not lost on me as I waited in line to take the Rip Tide and the Supreme Scream.

Knott's Berry Farm wagon

Wagon interior
Enormous conestoga wagon
Conestoga wagon
Black hearse
White hearse
Wells Fargo wagon
Youngstown fire engine from 1853

World on Wheels

I always dreamed of being a writer, but somehow imagined the profession would mainly involve writing. As in, sitting alone at a desk all day scrawling words on a page. Dreaming up stories to tell, and telling them the best way I knew how. Now that I’m actually pursuing my dream, I’m figuring out there’s a whole lot more to it.

Specifically, the journey. In just a few months my book The Last of the Blacksmiths will become a physical reality (available February 15, 2014), but I’m beginning to understand it’s not just about the book. It’s equally about the journey, all the things that have led up to the moment when the book hits store shelves. The days and weeks and months and years of writing, but also of learning things and meeting people and experiencing the unimaginable.

For instance, back in May of 2011 as I was frantically finishing up my MFA thesis based on 19th century Cleveland wagon makers, I sought the assistance of a professor of history at Bluefield College, Thomas A. Kinney. I had come upon his book The Carriage Trade and couldn’t believe how beautifully it filled huge gaps in my knowledge of 19th century carriage-making. So I emailed to thank him, and to ask him a question or two, and the correspondence has continued ever since.

World on Wheels biennial publicationThe most recent communication arrived via snail mail just yesterday: a marvelous letter from him, as well as a publication by the Carriage Association of America called World on Wheels Number 4 2013: Studies in the Manufacture, History, Use, Conservation, And Restoration Of Horse-drawn Vehicles. The lead article is by Dr. Kinney, a piece called “Looking Back at Horse-drawn Commercial Vehicles.” The article includes not only mention of Michael Harm of Harm & Schuster Fine Carriages of Cleveland, but also two of my family’s antique photos, one of the Harm & Schuster carriage works and one of the men who worked there. World on Wheels also includes terrific articles about carriages and gender, about Holy Roman and Habsburg carriages, about royal coaches and European Harness Horses. Interested? Order one here.

world on wheels photo page

Opening the package, I got goosebumps as I realized how much more full of such rewards my life has become since starting this project. In our original email correspondence back in May 2011, Dr. Kinney wrote: “One of the pleasures of writing for publication is the often surprising responses it elicits from people one would never otherwise know.” Hear hear. My head spins with delight like a world on wheels.