What I Did This Summer, Vol. 1

| 10/2/2018 10:05:00 AM

Leslie C. McManusYes, I was that nerd in the fifth grade. When the teacher assigned an essay reporting on What I did on my summer vacation, my fellow students groaned — and I did a happy little twirl. As the proud owner of a Kodak Instamatic (complete with those little square flashcubes), I even had photos to accompany the report.

Decades later, little has changed (other than the technology). I'm still reporting on what I saw this summer. The season started with a jaunt to Lubbock, Texas, to take in the Windmiller's Trade Fair, held this year at the American Windmill Museum. The museum speaks eloquently about the role of wind power in development of the west. It's an unbelievable collection, a beautifully conceived display, and the staffers are so friendly you may suspect they're on the chamber of commerce payroll. If you haven't been, go. There's nothing like it anywhere else.

Museum exhibits focus on everything from windmills to weights, turbines to trains, millstones to memorabilia. Visitors play an active role. Old-timers' recollections, preserved in the occasional display, capture the essence of a time now long past:

Two men who lived next door to each other were feuding. The feud started because one of the men, Mr. Barker, had a squeaky windmill and would not oil it, and it bothered Mr. Whitt's family at night.

Mr. Whitt awoke one morning to see Mr. Barker climbing his windmill tower. Mr. Whitt got his shotgun and, after Mr. Barker stepped to the next step of the ladder, Mr. Whitt would shoot off the step he'd just left. Mr. Barker got to the top of the tower and turned around and yelled, "What are you trying to do, kill me?"

"Nope," Mr. Whitt replied. "Just gonna leave you up there until you oil that windmill."


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