A seashell grotto in the front lawn, a Piet Mondrian front door, and a lavender house in the south

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Hellllllllo, Offbeat Homies! Let’s get the week going with a look at what’s been going on in the world of our readers, with a couple of just plain odd houses thrown in for good measure.

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Comments on A seashell grotto in the front lawn, a Piet Mondrian front door, and a lavender house in the south

  1. Short answer: A cracker house is any house a cracker lived in. 🙂
    Mostly these days, cracker houses and shotgun houses refer to the same style. A long house with a central hall and rooms branching off to the sides. Called a shotgun house because if you stand at the front door, you can fire a shot straight through the house and have it go out the back door.
    Sometimes you’ll see a house that looks like two small houses connected in the middle by a covered porch. That’s a central Florida style cracker house.
    Also, you have to be careful where you use the word. Calling someone in my part of Florida a cracker is akin to using the n-word. In central Florida, they are more likely to use the term with a sense of pride.
    Also, cracker cattle and horses are the most beautiful animals ever. 🙂 http://www.florida-agriculture.com/livestock/cracker_cattle.htm

    • I grew up thinking “cracker” referred to white people in general because of the color of their skin being like the food, and so the word had a neutral connotation to me. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized the actual, sinister meaning (whip-cracker).

      • Hm, I know Wikipedia isn’t always the most accurate, but it says:

        …………

        The term “cracker” was in use during the Elizabethan era to describe braggarts. … By the 1760s the English, both at home and in the American colonies, applied the term “cracker” to Scots-Irish and English American settlers of the remote southern back country, as noted in a passage from a letter to the Earl of Dartmouth: “I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode.” The word was later associated with the cowboys of Georgia and Florida, many of them descendants of those early frontiersmen.

        The term “cracker” in Florida usage relates to the whip that cowboys used to “crack” cattle out of the swamps and scrub.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_cracker

    • That’s my Cracker house photo up there. Thanks for the fantastic mini lesson in cracker history, Zingor. To reiterate, I was always told that the term “cracker” came from the sound of a cattle whip, and that these other terms (cracker cattle, cracker houses, etc) are derived from that. In central Florida, cracker houses are BELOVED because there aren’t too many of them, they have these old creaky wooden floors and lots of other antique-y elements. When I was a kid, a “cracker” when referring to a person meant someone white, rural, and usually poor. But my family used such terms with a kind of tongue in cheek pride (the not-Rodrigues side, obviously…)

      • Oh, I love your house! Until last weekend I lived in a shotgun house here in Tallahassee, my new place is a typical North Florida cottage style. I first heard the term “cracker” when I worked for the Dept. of Agriculture here, and we were developing the Century Pioneer Farm Family Program (honoring family farms more than 100 years old). In Central Florida, I am told, it refers to the whip crack of the cattle farmers. In North Florida, it is said to refer to the “corn crackers” and grist mills. But yeah, overall, I think rural, usually poor, but very self-sufficient when I think of the term. Personally, I don’t find it an insult, but boy, “stupid cracker” coming out the mouth of drunk FSU frat boy… you know he means it as one.

    • Other possible origins of the word “cracker.”
      From http://phobos.ramapo.edu/~pchang/etymology_of_hate.htm

      CRACKER:

      A poor, white person in some parts of the southern United States who, perhaps, could only afford to eat crackers.
      The most common explanation for the origin of this phrase is that it is from corncracker, or someone who distills corn whiskey (cracking corn is to crush it into a mash for distillation). The song lyric “Jimmy Crack Corn” is a reference to this. In the song a slave sings about his master got drunk, fell, hit his head, and died. And the slave “don’t care.” The usage, however, is probably not the origin of the term cracker.
      More likely is that it is from an early sense of crack meaning to boast. This sense dates to the 16th century. A 1766 quote in the OEO2 gives the origin of cracker as boastful. (The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language)
      a small firework
      a slang term used by 19th century Georgian slaves to refer to the cracking of the slavemaster’s whip.
      a white person (Dictionary of Afro-American Slang by Clarence Major)

  2. I wonder if the Victorian-Cracker house is on a former plantation. I hope you see where I’m going with this because I don’t really want to elaborate. I feel icky just thinking it. 🙁

    • These were usually houses belonging to relatively poorer cattle and other livestock ranchers, from what I understand, but certainly not an impossibility that some of them have connections to slavery. Most of them are really tiny homesteads, though, they are not large agricultural homesteads.

      • Ah…that makes more sense, then. I didn’t realize “cracker” also referred to livestock ranchers. Look how much we’re all learning! 🙂

    • I could be wrong, but the style looks to be a rather late Victorian, and is probably from the post slavery era.

  3. That seashell grotto house is just down the street from my work! I always see it when I’m driving to and from locations. It’s really close to the bay, so it’s a perfect front yard for a bay home.

  4. Yep, a lot of Southerners don’t take too well to the word cracker, hence the term shotgun house is used much more than cracker.

  5. The Omaha house is playing off an old album by punk “supergroup” Public Image Ltd. (PiL) from 1986. Lead singer at the time was Johnny Rotten, formerly of the Sex Pistols. Its various forms were called “Album,” “Compact Disc” and “Cassette.” At the time, pop culture was in the throes of a brief love affair with labeling things as “generic.” If you search the image of the album cover, you can see where this homeowner got his/her inspiration.

    • Pop culture got the ‘generic’ craze from the supermarket. The blue-stripe design was the most widely-known color scheme used on generic grocery products. The album and the homeowner are both parodying the same thing.

  6. Yeah–I always heard that Cracker was a derogatory term for poor white folks in the south–but mostly it’s used in a less mean-spirited way today. Personally, I always just thought it was funny and the term Redneck was more derogatory! Guess it depends on what you think you are Rednecks or Crackers.

  7. I don’t know if it’s different or not but I always remember hearing the term “cracker-box house”. Because I always heard that term used for 4-square type homes, I thought it was because of the shape that was similar to a box of crackers….. maybe it’s a different thing completely.

    • Hm…was it “cracker-box house” or perhaps “cracker box-house”, i.e., a house that comes in a box?

      I find this whole discussion completely fascinating.

  8. You wanna talk weird stuff on lawns? In Ontario, on Highway 7 somewhere between Georgetown and Guelph, there’s this house with a whole lot of plastic Canada geese in the front yard.

    That might not seem strange, but the owners rearrange the geese into different tableaux on a regular basis. Right now, the geese are at a drive-in theatre, watching Harry Potter and the Deadly Hallows II.

    One of these days I’ll stop a get a picture for you folks. 🙂

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