R. R. 2, Brandon, Wisconsin 53919
Yesterday I started this column for the New Year ahead. Things did not go too well. Last evening I went to a Writer's Meeting, came home about 10:45, and reread what I had written. ICH! IT WAS AWFUL! The criticisms and comments at our meeting had been sharp and to the point. There is so much to learn in any trade or profession.
After making a short trip to Dearborn, Michigan recently, both Mr. B. and I came home with a renewed appreciation of the craftsmen of the past. We found our way, without incident, to the modern wonder of an airport such as Metro. We warmly greeted our son and his wife from New Jersey. It had been more than a year and a half since we'd seen them. Therefore the first evening was filled with catching up on the news as we gathered in one of our adjacent rooms at a nearby motel.
Tuesday morning found us ready to travel a few blocks to the Ford Museum. It was cold and windy. The added spurts of light rain made us welcome the thought of being undercover for the day.
As we entered the imposing front door Phyllis and I were immediately impressed by the elegnt Highboys, antique chairs, settees with hand-carved wooden trim, love seats to embellish anybody's love making, dishes beautiful enough to grace the tables of royalty. We were feeling a bit elegant ourselves. We knew, at once, that our $3.00 admission charge had been well spent. THIS was going to be a day!
Of course, Mr. B. and son Jim were soon headed toward the steam engines, old cars, and every other ancient implement which runs, one way or another.
After Phyllis and I had 'oohed and aahed' our way through the furniture and piano section I found one tool which was strange and forbidding. 'What in the world is that?' I asked anybody willing to listen. It was almost a work of art, gruesome looking, to be sure, but nevertheless it had a certain flair. The note attached called it a Porcupine Thresher. It was made in the shape of an ice cream cone, lying on its side, and had heavy wooden spikes running all around it. Somehow or other a horse or horses were used in pulling the large end in a circle and thereby threshing the chaff from the grain. I would estimate it was about 10 ft. long, give or take a few feet. It looked more like a torture instrument to me. I shuddered.
Have you ever seen these elaborate little parlor stoves? They were black as midnight and decorated with Corinthian Columns, and even in Cathedral designs. They were there in a sizable number, some rather plain, others almost excessively ornate. Mercy! We never even had a parlor, let alone a parlor stove!
We also were intrigued by a Shaker Stove, plain but very useful. These were made at a sharp angle against both sides of the stove, leaving a flat surface for cooking between them. I really took this all in. I formerly had an Uncle Ben who was a member of a Shaker Colony. I expect the irons, to do up his shirts, were heated in this fashion. Oh! How the memories of dear Uncle Ben came flooding back to warm me.
Another special item was a smokehouse, made from the hollowed-out trunk of a large Sycamore tree. It had all the earmarks of an oversized bird house slanting roof and little drilled holes to take care of excess smoke. I leaned over the separating ropes to try and detect the homey aroma of hickory-smoked ham and bacon, but was disappointed. Oh well! You can't have everything! But for you men I am throwing in this bit of info. There is a Corliss stationary engine there which has a 24-ft.-diameter wheel. The wheel is 4 ft. wide, 300 H.P., 65 R.P.M. I couldn't believe the size of it. And old cars, well, you just have to see them.
On Wednesday we took in as much of Greenfield Village as we could. The high point of that day (between shivers) was seeing the very chair in which Abraham Lincoln was sitting the night he was shot to death in the Ford Theater. Even the coverlet which protected his knees from draughts was there, draped over the worn arm. It brought me close to tears. I can't describe my reaction. History became so vibrantly alive.
As we met on the Village Green our two bragging men declared that they had seen the very best exhibits there. We women contended we had surely picked the top layer to view in this remarkable place. In this kind of mood of friendly controversy we drove Jim and Phyllis back to Metro, dropped them off and left for home. We carried many appreciative thoughts with us.
Such outstanding men and ingenious women have shaped our past, and given us a present, too perplexing (we sometimes feel) to cope with. But then we remember that the Great Creator of us all is the One who enables man to think, to plan, to create. Our hearts were full of deep thankfulness and wonder as we returned home. Yes, it is a trip well worth making. Summertime is best as so many of the buildings are closed by October, and the crafts not in operation.
All my life I have wondered what it means when we sing POP GOES THE WEASEL. Now I know. When the spinster measured off the yarn she had spun on a measuring reel she was told by a certain noise on the wheel that she had her 200 yards for a skein. It was then that the weasel went POP. AND THE SPINSTER was often an unmarried lady. Thus that term. Lesson completed. So long for now.