PORT ARANSAS, TEXAS- FARLEY BOAT PLANTERS

Left from Aransas Pass over a long causeway and a ferry ($1.50 round trip, 50¢ for house trailers), to PORT ARANSAS, 5 m. (416 pop.) (boats and tackle for rent; ample tourist facilities), at the Gulf entrance to the Aransas Pass opening of the ship channel. This is a fishing resort on sandy, treeless Mustang Island, its few residences lost among the tourist lodges. Here are the United States Coast Guard Station and the Federal Weather Bureau Office, the latter stationed at this point to warn of hurricanes. A tarpon rodeo is held here annually.

Texas, A Guide To the Lone Star State (WPA, 1940)

Port Aransas used to be one of the best tarpon fishing destinations in the world, and the local Farley family was renowned for its tarpon guides and boat building talents. Several years ago, the Port Aransas Garden Club commissioned a mold that allowed a near-replica (though not to scale) of the Farley Boats to be reproduced in concrete. These concrete planters continue to be sold by the Port Aransas Garden Club, and nearly every business and a large number of the homes in Port Aransas have one. My favorite thing about the planters is that everyone who buys one customizes their boat through plantings and decorations, so each ends up as unique as its owner.

* * *

Brenna Brock is a State Guide to Texas who grew up in the western part of the state, but soon left for Austin in search of trees, hills, and occasional precipitation. When she’s not shooing varmints out of the garden, trying to cook native plants, or indulging her cats’ every whim, she’s probably chasing after something with a camera. She posts a photo nearly every day on Tumblr at Mr. Cake’s Photo Adventures.

STEEL & RIVER - PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - STATION TO STATION

Pittsburgh’s a city of steel and river. Its architecture, its buildings are skeletal: bare like bones. Water flows in, around and through it like blood in veins. The muscle is its people. These elements collide on the North Shore waterfront just outside Heinz Field, home to Steelers football on any given Sunday

There are some 24,000 boats registered in Allegheny County – one for every 13 city residents. And it looks like half of them are there on game day, at the confluence of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers. So while summer holds out — before it gives way to fall and fall succumbs to winter — the water’s colors shift: river gray to Steeler yellow and black.

Today is opening day and most have tied up their boats a week in advance to grab prime real estate. Big screen TVs, generous buffets and coolers of beer line the wharf. Friendly Pittsburghers are quick with a cold one and good words about their city. 

When did you show up?

“Two weeks ago. Started partying around eight this morning, most will be here past dark.” 

What’s the score?

"Doesn’t really matter who wins, as long as I get that white envelope on Tuesday. You know what I’m saying? The numbers."

* * *

Erin Chapman and Tom McNamara are co-editors of THE AMERICAN GUIDE.

* * *

THE AMERICAN GUIDE is joining STATION TO STATION for a cross-country train ride. Stop: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

 Follow your guide along the rails and see America. [Track A/G’s trip here]  

OYSTERTOWN - CONNECTICUT

NORWALK (Ind.: Norwaake, or Naramake) is an industrial city, spreading across both sides of the island-fringed harbor of the Norwalk River.

— Connecticut, A Guide To Its Roads, Lore, and People (WPA, 1938)

Norwalk, once nicknamed Oystertown, is part of Connecticut’s Fairfield County, also referred to as “The Gold Coast” because of the immense wealth of its residents who live in the various storybook towns and houses dotting the Atlantic coastline. Norwalk, however, doesn’t quite share the same qualities as most of these towns. It still very much reflects its blue-collar history, the opposite of the town’s white-collared neighbors Westport, Darien, New Canaan, and Wilton. 

* * *

Guide to the Northeast Brett Klein lives in Connecticut and works in New York, but prefers small town life and his homestate of Maine. Any chance to get rural is a mental vacation. Follow Klein on Tumblr at The Coast is Clear. His curatorial collection of Americana, rural life, other artists and ephemera can be seen on Tumblr at Tons of Land.