Sunday, July 29, 2012
Somehow it seems quite appropriate to write today (Sunday) about an old church next
to the one room schoolhouse I wrote about in the last blog.
Bethany Lutheran Church, located in Beechwood, Michigan is no longer in use. We
walked around the building and I imagined how it looked back in 1913 freshly constructed.
In 1911, the co-owner of the Beechwood Store, Albert Sandgren, drew up the plans.
The cornerstone reads 1912; my research indicates the church was actually finished in 1913.
The church construction was primarily carried out by volunteers - most likely Swedish
Lutherans in the small community.
The front of the church houses a square-shaped belfry tower.
The church "footprint" is rectangular with a gable roof structure. Clapboard sides
sit upon a rough-cut rock foundation. Knowing this is a rocky terrain, this indicates the
rocks are from local soil. Farmers coped with this soil with limited success. Wes
reports that his relatives tried various crops, including potatoes, thinking that it would be
a longer growing season like back in Sweden. Eventually, it was realised that logging was
the best "crop" and Wes's grandfather and his three brothers owned a logging company
But back to the church....really back to the back of the church. It has an apse (love that
word!) hexagonal in shape with a small leaded window.
Probably my favorite feature of the church exterior is the use of Gothic windows. (How is it
that I can never look at a Gothic shaped-window without thinking of the couple depicted in the
painting American Gothic by Grant Wood? I think that as we age, Wes and I are going to
look more and more like this couple.)
Again I digress...back to the church.
Though we couldn't go inside the vacant church, we were told that the sanctuary
was very typical of a Swedish Lutheran church back in the old country. The curved
oak communion rail and altar were altered a bit after another congregation moved in
years ago, but the pieces were retained. Perhaps someday, the Historical Society can
refurbish this building as well and restore it to its former simple glory.
It has been said (written) that this church is "significant" due to its unaltered
condition in a rural environment. For me, it was a significant experience to walk around
the building and imagine the sounds of a congregation singing hymns with the
accompaniment of a pump organ wafting through the windows on a hot day of summer:
Rock of ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee
or from The Church's One Foundation
O happy ones and holy!
Lord give us grace that we
Like them the meek and lowly,
On high might dwell with thee.
Coming next in this series of UP Oldies: the cookbooks.
Friday, July 27, 2012
One of my favorite book series (and TV show) is based upon the life and experiences of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
The "Little House" series captured a life of long ago where kids went to school in a one room schoolhouse, parents were hard-working, and life was tough at times. But, oh for those calico dresses and bonnets!
When we were reminded that there was going to be a special event at the old Beechwood schoolhouse - a BBQ and "tour" - Wes and I decided to go have a look at the place where his Grandfather attended school. The school was built in 1914. After the Chicago and Northwestern Transportation Company made a railroad stop in Beechwood in 1888, a post office soon followed in 1889. The next building project was Bethany Lutheran Church, built in 1912. (More on that later.)
By 1934, the school was no longer used as a school. It was the Town Hall. Currently, the Beechwood Historical Society is using the building and working on needed repairs. Come along
now for a little tour with me!
You might ask where the building's bell tower is? Rumor has it that it was "borrowed" after the school closed, and it ended up in a nearby museum. Soon, it is going to be returned. The historical rendering, below, shows the bell in its tower. Meaning the tower will have to be rebuilt as well.
Once you walk up the steps, you can see two bathrooms side by side to the left. The
tour guide pointed out the unusual toilets and explained why they were unique.
Becuase this area gets so cold in the winter, the cylindrical water tank holds no water to freeze. What happens? The user sits on the "throne" causing the seat to have pressure as the weight of the user touches down (see the gap between toilet and seat?) causing the cylinder to fill up with water and allow flushing. Cool, huh? Sure beats "going" ouside to an outhouse!
To the right of the entry is a small room, now a vintage kitchen. Originally, the room
was for the teacher's use. A cut-out was made to open up to the main room years later.
And now we get to the main room where all the learning took place nearly 100 years ago!
It is set up with tables for the Open House, but you can get the idea quite well as to
the room plan. The chalkboard and flag are original.
Isn't it interesting to think about the songs being played on this piano back in the day?
Many original one room schoolhouses can be found throughout our country, but
somehow knowing there is one in our cabin "neighborhood" is very special indeed.
Coming to this blog next: The Old Church
Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Yes, we have been back to the family cabin in Michigan. This time, though, was a bit different than previous visits as there were many more glimpses of the town's past history than usual.
The main road through the center of town is currently under construction.
Therefore, a detour is necessary to get from one end of town to the other. The detour sends the vehicles
one way on the side streets, and the return trip leads the vehicles back on the opposite side of the main drag.To me, an out-of-towner, this translates to seeing buildings and houses not usually glimpsed as we leave our lake cabin to fetch groceries, visit the local thrift store or gather materials for yet another repair project. And this time, I fell in love with an old, boarded-up beautiful building which I assumed was formerly a school bustling with students and teachers. This building is magnificent! (And much larger than it appears in these recent photographs.)
Nowhere is a sign or cornerstone to mark the building's history or name. But, there
is a very reliable source of information: my Father-in-Law. He grew up in this town
and when I explained the location, he immediately told me that this is Central School and
he attended the school from kindergarten through 6th grade. He remembered one teacher
specifically: Miss Scott.
Once I knew the name of the school, I could search online for details. I found out that
the construction for the school started in 1904, was completed in 1909 and this is what it
looked like then.
With the population of the town rapidly growing, the school was added on to in 1911.
You can see it under construction here.
And here is the school in 1919.
In case you are interested in specifics of the history, click on the link here.
My FIL told me he thought there were possible plans of turning the old school
into apartment units. The article found online confirms this, though I do not
know if the plan is progressing. I would love to see this happen! Meanwhile,
I was pleased to learn that this grand structure has been placed on the
National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Good call here, folks!
Finding this building was more than just finding a building for me. It was a
gentle reminder that a detour in the road - the road of life if you want to think
in a broader stroke - can bring inconvenience, but also unexpected beauty.
Coming: A visit to a one room school house.
Thursday, July 12, 2012
You might ask how that "zip" project is going
these days. After all, it is now the half year marker
for the 2012 Resolution Word
in which I plan to bring zip into my life in three ways
by lip-zipping, zippy surroundings and using actual zippers in my craft projects.
The results are in: there have been some ups and downs (pun intended)! I had a good four
months with using zippers in January, February, March and April with the projects shown
here: two dresses for Miss E with back neckline zippers - one needed repair after wearing.
The zipper flower pin sits in my jewely box. The zipper-pocket-in-the-back monster is with
my nephew and is hopefully still enjoyed.
May and June were busy! The zipper use was in a felted wool mitten. Only one zipper, but
8 animal characters: all to go with an "activity set" based upon the book THE MITTEN by
Jan Brett. Miss E fell in love with this book and the plot in which a young boy loses his white
mitten made by his grandmother and the forest animals crawl inside one by one. The mitten
keeps stretching until the little mouse lands on the nose of the bear, The bear sneezes and all
the animals fly out of the mitten and the boy is reunited with his mitten that is now much
Most of the animal patterns were found in the book COUNTRYSIDE SOFTIES by Amy
Adams. (Thanks, Patricia, for this book!)fun books!)
Now it is July, and I am happy to report that my long-saved 90 inch pink zipper (rescued
from my girlhood sleeping bag) is repurposed into a fun catch-all bag. I simply sewed the
zipper sides into a continual seam based upon an online tutorial. Voila - a bag that can
accommodate craft supplies and also amuse one by unzipping and zipping practice. The
unzipped zipper, before sewing, is shown as the pink heart around a place setting of our
china on the dining room table, just to give you a scale as to how long the zipper is.
One challenge I am having is making these collage pictures. It's taking a lot of time to
download my pictures to an online sight, create a collage and then right-click save to
post. Any ideas?
Wishing YOU zip as you go about the business of summer --- stay cool!
Friday, July 06, 2012
Not wanting to give to give away the exact age of Wes's baby sister, let's just say she was little a looooong time ago! As Wes was quite a bit older, he was able to make this special rocking horse to present to her when she was just the right age for rocking in style.
Stored away as his sister grew older, the rocking horse was brought out of storage, painted and readied for own two little wranglers. Once again, this horse was much loved.
Now the much-loved horse is back in action! This time, the paint is chipped and dinged from all those years in the attic. One day Miss E was over and we had an inspiration to pull the horse out of the attic and she has been riding it ever since.
She rides it in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening. And when she has to leave the horse, she'll even say good-bye with a little kiss to the head. I'm so glad this three-generation horse is a part of our "stable!"
Is there anything you are saving for a future generation?
Monday, July 02, 2012
It was a red letter day
for my over-a-decade-old
Take a look at the milestone as shown on the dashboard speedometer
mileage calculator. That's a lot of zeroes, and a lot of miles!
In this car, I have driven my kids to and from school and college.
In this car, I have driven my now deceased mother to her doctor
appointments and out to eat and shop.
In this car, I have been driven by (and with) my husband to destinations
around the country.
In this car, I have filled up the trunk with groceries, purchases and
In this car, I have toted the most precious cargo in a carseat behind me.
In this car, I have listened to so many hours of music of my choosing.
In this car, I have had an accident that was my fault; witnessed
by Miss E (repeating the sequence of events to this day) and John and Kari
as they pulled up behind us.
Way to go, you beautiful 2000 red Taurus, you!