As a mixed media artist, I'm always on the hunt for junk--the kind of stuff one could find, perhaps, buried in an old garage or shed. I'm talking rusty gears and nails, wooden boxes, brass drawer pulls, and the like. However, when I run across interesting paper "junk"--old journals, bills of sale, letters, that kind of thing--I usually grab them as well. Not only can I occasionally incorporate paper items into my assemblage work, I certainly can use them in my collage pieces. My favorites are those paper items that include something hand-written. One reason is that no one writes by hand anymore, so these items are somewhat of a rarity, and two, I find a certain beauty in the flow of cursive writing.
A few months ago at a local junk shop I ran across this (pictured above) old journal with pages and pages of hand-written text. I flipped through it and was intrigued by the old-style cursive writing so I bought it, thinking somewhere down the line I'd find a use for some of its pages.
Well as is often the case, I lugged it home and deposited it in my "studio," where it promptly melted into the pile of junk that dominates that area. Recently, as some of you who follow my blog know, I've put aside my assemblage work for awhile to play around with some collage. Looking through all of my paper stuff, I found the journal and began to thumb through it.
Many of the entries are dated 1925, so I knew the time period. Right away I knew it was a book of meeting minutes for some group. What group? At first I couldn't figure that out. The notes seemed fairly innocuous. For example, in the picture below, the group "moved that we go to sugar lake." Okay, sounds fun. In the picture after that, the group "moved that we throw a Halloween party." Again, relatively harmless stuff.
Given my inner-geek, I had to laugh when I ran across the entry in the next picture. Apparently "Night Hawk" was "absent" at the November 9th meeting. Night Hawk--ha--it made me think of some super hero get-together. I surmised that all the other super heroes were pissed off because it was Night Hawk's turn to bring the beer. Later on I discovered that "Night Hawk" was a code name for something a bit more sinister than my comic book day-dreams.
I'll admit, I'm not the best at deciphering cursive writing--plus my attention span has always been suspect--so my first couple of times through the journal were basically scans. But then I began to slow down and actually read the entries. That's when I began to pick up some strange words, such as (pictured in the next 3 images) "KloKann committee," "Klaliff-Kladd," "Kligraph," and "Klabee." Given all of these "K" words, I had a pretty good idea of the organization that used them...
And then on one of the last pages in the journal, I found the following entry, which validated my premise. This journal belonged to some chapter of "The Women of the Ku Klux Klan." Whoa, what a bizarre discovery!
By the way, according to a quick Google search, the definitions of the "K"-words are as follows:
klokann (plural of klokan): An officer of the Ku Klux Klan who investigates prospective members.
klaliff: a vice president.
kladd: a "conductor," in charge of initiating new members
kligraph: a secretary.
klabee: a treasurer.
By the way, a nighthawk is a member in charge of security.
The (sometimes mad) ramblings of a mixed media artist.