I had the first truly busy workday at Old World Wisconsin today, full of great surprises. The first was that a former co-worker showed up as a guest, with a motorcycle club from Willow Creek Church in Barrington. It was wonderful to see her and to have a group of 40 visitors from my old stomping grounds. What a contrast for them to be at St. Peter’s Church, though! Imagine, leather clad moderns stepping into a Catholic Chapel that was built in 1839. The church where they worship has 2 “sanctuaries” that hold some 13,000 people…balconies and upper balconies equipped with jumbo screens so that they can see the preacher or the lyrics of the worship song that a band is cranking out at how many volts? Here I am seated at the pump organ in my bustle playing for a congregation of 20. Quite a juxtaposition of growth. What is the value of history, of retaining some artifact or memory of a time before? Before growth, before technology, before the cultural shifts and changes that dominate our lives today? Steve suggests that an important value in our culture now is convenience. Willow Creek Church has a food court. You can get a pizza or a coffee or a host of other fast foods without even leaving the building. That’s convenient if you’re going from Worship to a class or meeting hosted there that same day. Was convenience an important value in the 19th century? I can bake 24 loaves of bread at one time in the bake oven at the Schottler farm. I suppose that’s convenience making headway. Also, I learned today that Sears Roebuck sold a Dixon Ticonderoga #2 pencil with a nickel clasped eraser at the end in 1905. You have your pencil lead and eraser on one tool, and you can order a box from the catalog and have it delivered to the train depot. Was that convenient? I suppose it was more convenient than whittling them by hand.
I like the feeling of being out chopping wood or trimming grass with a sickle around the homestead, and looking up to see the clouds or listen to a woodpecker. I think it’s convenient to be right there on the land so that any time I drop what I’m doing, I feel connected to the whole earth. Driving for a half hour away from the city to get to the country is not convenient.
Tomorrow, I’m back at St. Peter’s for another day of the Church Bazaar, the Temperance Rally and all the Women’s Work and Reform activities. Tonight, I am really tired! I’m draggin’ my wagon, and I’m off to bed now.