June also is National Rose Month (actually it’s a very long list). They mean of course the flower, but I’d like to think of it as Rose Wilder Lane Month. Please read something by or about Rose this month.
If you’d like to have something close to the prairie roses she was named for, look for the Nearly Wild Rose at your local garden center. I’ve had one for about three years now and it blooms more constantly than any other variety of rose that I’ve already had.
I was at Burr Oak this weekend for their Laura Days. They seem to be changing the venue somewhat. They moved several of the events previously held on Sunday, to Saturday, including the parade. This puts them more in line with how most of the other Days around the area work (Beef Days, Popcorn Festival, Trekfest, etc.)
The most interesting thing I hadn’t done before was the cemetery walk. I thought it was really interesting. Although there are a lot of modern stones, and not a lot of trees or flowers, if you walk around they really do have some interesting ones. There was the Symms family who lost sons to both Andersonville Civil War prison camp and with Custer at the Little Bighorn. There was the Brace family, two grandparents, who were caught in a flash flood while visiting friends. The house they were in was swept away leaving them floating on a bed. The grandfather fell off, he stayed near them awhile, but when he quit calling back the grandmother jumped in rather than go on without him. The friend stayed on the bed and lived. It was on a tributary of the Root River. Finally one of the earliest stones was a girl who was killed in a prairie fire. There seemed to be a lot of stones with the image of a hand pointing upward and a phrase such as “Gone Home” at the top of the image. There were your normal carved draperies, flowers, and books, and one 3-D lamb sitting on top of a stone that was very good and I can’t believe it hadn’t been broken.
I am also now firmly convinced that, if they still made them, the pressed metal markers are the kind to have. Except for some tipping, I’ve never seen one of them broken or damaged. There were three more perfect examples here. One was the only military size one I’ve ever seen. My great-grandfather, who never met a folk myth that he wasn’t willing to present as his own idea, swears that the one in our local cemetery was used as a drop off point during prohibition. (They are hollow and the name plates screwed on and off.) I’ve heard similar stories from enough other places that I’m pretty sure it was just a story.
I also want to commend you to the Burr Oak Mercantile. Laura fans want this place to stay open, so there is somewhere to eat in town and a second set of public bathrooms. They have kind of changed their set up since I was last there. They now have more antiques and serve more adult beverages. Their antiques are good though. Take a look if you are ever in town and I can highly recommend their iced tea. (Happy Iced Tea Month)
One of the listservs I’m on presents a list of what the current month is. The list for June just came out and it is National Iced Tea Month. Ice Tea is one of my favorite drinks. It’s best made out of brewed tea that is quickly iced before it has a chance to cool according to detailed directions I found in an old cookbook long ago and I think it’s exactly right.
Unfortunately brewed ice tea has a relatively short shelf life, so many restaurants have gone to running some sort of “tea” through their fountains like pop. This kind of tea can be kept a LONG time and never has to be dumped. I’m hoping a revolution against this disturbing, if understandable, trend is the works because I’ve seen lots more brewed tea lately as I drive around. Please celebrate National Iced Tea Month by thanking a restaurant that still has brewed tea today!
The National Archive produces its own magazine/journal with articles focusing on research done using items in the National Archives. I recently discovered that a really good article is available from them full text on the web. Although the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is part of this system, the article really looks at other federal government records (land management, census, weather, etc.) and what they can tell us about the Ingalls and Wilder families and where and how they lived.
One of the most well-known features of the Ingalls farm site outside of Independence, Kansas, is Pa’s hand dug well. In fact it was the existence was one of the ways they narrowed it down to one modern place. Pa’s well might be lost under concrete, but we can see another one and help a Tornado damaged town. See the world’s biggest hand dug well.
I thought the celery information in the Michigan presentation was especially interesting. Larry B. Massie told about how people from the Netherlands were used to growing stuff in swampy ground and draining and reclaiming crop land. They bought small plots of land and grew the labor intensive crop of celery (in the days before self-blanching varieties). He also talked about the use of celery vases on Victorian tables. I think he explained a piece I had seen for a pattern I collect and assumed was an urn with a broken lid.
Ari Weinzweig’s “What’s for Lunch and Why: Artisanal Cheeses in Wisconsin” was very interesting, especially the part about the failure to grow wheat as the main cash crop in Wisconsin. It might help explain why Charles Ingalls left and is worth pursuing.
The lunch for Saturday was very cleverly put together with color coded dots telling you what exactly you were eating. I was very sorry that we had to leave a day earlier than originally planned and that we missed Jane and Michael Stern who didn’t present due to a serious, but not life threatening accident.
It was a unique experience that I enjoyed very much and I encourage those of you with an interest in food history to attend next time.
UPDATED May 12 2017: I undid the link because I can’t find an archive of the page. I added a photo too.
Sarah S. Uthoff is the main force behind Trundlebed Tales striving to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation. Uthoff is a nationally known Laura Ingalls Wilder authority and has presented at five of the Wilder homesites, many conferences and numerous libraries, museums, and events around the Midwest. Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her onFacebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.