Posts Tagged With: farms


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Yesterday, with the pall of the Peshtigo fire in my brain, I forgot to post we had found  my maternal grandmother’s house in Marinette. A frustrating search.  Again, one we made easily in 2006 and failed to record. (That was before I was a blogger and had a digital camera.) The house front had changed. I spoke to several neighbors but these old houses are now mostly cheap rentals for young people with kids. My grandmother, who had 12  children, moved here after my grandfather died. She bought the house with money she won from suing the company over his death. My mother was born in Marinette but never lived in this house. As the oldest, she and three sisters were married and gone by that time. I particularly cherish one family wedding at this house  when I was about 10 years old. My uncles pushed the couch and lamps against the wall and taught me how to polka and waltz on the smooth hardwood floor so I could dance at the wedding. My grandma carried her money in a pouch around her neck and when we were little, she would send us to the grocer for something and allow us to spend a penny of the change.

img314Rose Dionne and daughter Marietta Rhinehardt

All those children.  It still boggles my mind. My grandmother was only 4 feet 9 and a half inches tall  with a tiny waist my dad would demonstrate by encircling her waist  with his  hands. My grandmother on the left with her daughter, my aunt Marietta on the right about 1950.

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Our journey took us through farmland,  from Marinette & Menominee to Bark River, to visit a childhood friend. Marinette & Menominee are twin cities perched on opposite banks of the  Menominee River from each other. During the war, we had to color our margarine because the state of Wisconsin, a strong dairy state, refused to allow “colored” margarine to look like butter.  U.S. highway 41 is dotted with small towns  the names of which brought back more memories. Auggie Schultz’s bar in Shaefer where I tasted pop and potato chips for the first time. Stephenson, where an aunt and Uncle once lived. Powers, Wells, Ingolls, Wallace where once stood Lime Kilns my great grandfather buiilt.  Dagget, Carney, Spalding, all remind me of someone my dad bought piglets from or hunted with or peeled pulp with.  Nadeau where my paternal great-grandparents settled in the “Belgiantown” after coming here from Leige, Belgium  through Ellis Island.

img444-Inspecting the lime kilns near Shafer, Mi.

My brothers Bill, Dan, Norman and myself in front of one of the lime kilns my great-grandfather built. He came as a specialist in this type of kiln. My great-grandmother, who was pregnant made the trip alone after the baby was born.(It died.)  She traveled with trunks of household goods with four children, one of them blind. She spoke not a word of English, but she carried a sign that said Nadeau, Wisconsin on it. I would have been terrified to make such a journey.

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We arrived at my friend Bernice Patrick’s farm in late afternoon. Bernice was widowed 7 years ago and her son runs the farm. She works at a local casino and we got there before she got off work.

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This interesting old house, a log house with chinking, was lathed over at one time. It stands on her property. Double click it for a better view.

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The weather wimp checks the thermometer. One of the hottest days of the year, it turned out. And, the humidity made it pretty miserable. We sat outside playing with the cat and eating apples from her orchard and watching the bulls in one pasture.

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When Bernice got home from her job at the Island Indian Casino, about seven miles up the road, she likes to take off her shoes and relax. We took off our shoes and cooled off in the house and looked at pictures before dinner.

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Bernice’s graduation photo.

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Her sister, Marie, who was my sister’s age. The Cousineau family were our neighbors and school chums when we burned out in 1948 or 1949. The bus dropped us off from school and this is what was left of or house:

img553Rubble of Hardwood house fire.


img552Hardwood fire rubble. Everything burned, 1949 Spring thaw, March or April


img551Ruins of the fire from earlier in the year, during spring thaw, 1949. (Copy)

It was because of this fire that Bernice, Marie  and I met again at my home in Murphys, over 60 years later. More on that tomorrow.

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It takes me by surprise when we park in a town, knowing nothing about Towanda, PA, to learn that some famous person once lived and went to school here. In this case it was popular American songwriter,  Stephen Foster.  We spotted a mural about one of his songs, Camptown Races.

They have a festival celebrating Camptown Races, here. A number of his songs are still popular today. I couldn’t believe how many I was familiar with. You can check out his story here:
Also, David Wilmot, who was a politician and an advocate of anti-slavery in the newly acquired territories from Mexico. His name is on the official proviso.He practiced law at one time in Towanda. You can learn more about him here:

Highway 6 through Pennsylvania crosses the Allegheny Mountains and acquaints us with small, historic towns along the way. This building has 1880, as was the custom then, on the building’s front piece, like a signature.

Quite small towns have beautiful old churches indicitive of the values of long ago, the mainstay of social life.

Between the corn and clover fields, are plenty of old barns. Hard to photograph as you are whizzing by, but interesting. Makes you want to record them with the camera since they are beginning to deteriorate. Many of them are still in use, full of hay or equipment. Barns, a part of Americana we hate to lose to the steel clad factory farms along with the personable image we retain of the stalwart farmer, the backbone of his community and American rural life.

It was fun to see old Five and Dime stores, a couple of Ben Franklins and a few old Diners like this one:

It kind of makes you yearn for simpler times to see this part of America. Its nice to have the ability to do this in retirement. And, of course, I’m making mental notes of places I would revisit and spend more time.
I also like to photograph signs, if I can. I wasn’t able to catch them with my camera, but here they are:
At Denton we crossed through a ski area. The Alleghenies are scenic and we enjoyed our 150 mile drive to Smethport.

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From Mary’s desk:

The Lancaster County Visitor Center directs you to things Amish, the traditional crafts, tours, and places of interest. Amish don’t like having their pictures taken, we are told. When we were in Southern Louisiana, you sometimes thought you were in a different country. Amish country lends you that same feeling. They are shy, and modestly friendly when talking to you. But, on the road, or from a distance, all was fair game for the lens.

Our first stop was the farmers market at Bird In Hand, PA.  We indulged in home made sausages, shoo fly pie, local cheese, local Wilbur Chocolates and home made specialty noodles and coleslaw. Many women working the counters wore the typical head dress of the Amish or Menonnite. We aren’t sure of the difference and didn’t ask.

We stopped at the Old Country Store and found these chains and fasteners, the kind we still use on our ceiling fans. It’s impossible to find them anymore, and so pleased to find them. It was our goal to stop at a renowned restaurant for chicken pot pie. The village was so small we passed the restaurant and found ourselves in the village of Intercourse, PA before we were even hungry.

Traffic whizzes right along, but these little boys were undaunted by the traffic. I took the photo out the motor home window and couldn’t get the small shetlands pulling their wagon. Older boys used scooters for transportation;  never saw a bike.

Most of them drive these small horse drawn buggies and they move very swiftly along with the traffic. So swiftly, its difficult to get a good picture of them. You hear them, look up camera ready, 15 seconds, they are gone.

This gentleman had an open buckboard. We saw another two horse buckboard as well. The small buggies are often driven by women carrying kids.

And, of course, public parking is a necessary element because manure is an ever present commodity. Everyone takes it in stride, and, in fact, most of the stores we poked around in, including the hardware store in Intercourse, were run or worked by the Amish people.

The Intercourse Pretzel Factory gave us a tour of their pretzel making kitchen and a lesson in pretzel making. The instructor could roll that dough to the perfect thinness and length, then flip and twist it into the correct shape in seconds. Jim made a pretty good roll. No one got them quite as thin as our instructor’s example.

I thought my pretzel was the best, but everyone said it had an extra twist in it. The recipe, by the way, is very simple. Cover with a salt solution, sprinkle with rock salt and bake at 400* until browned. Then dry at 200* for two hours. Ingredients, flour, water and salt. Pretty simple stuff.

These ladies were having a grand time because one of them made her pretzel into a peace sign, (a rather crooked peace sign.)

One woman was blind and partially deaf, but she gave it a try while her guide dog seemed quite bored by the whole affair.

In any case, we all earned our Official Pretzel Twisters Certificate and had a lot of fun. This company claims that 90 per cent of  the pretzels made in the U.S. come from a radius of one hundred miles from their shop, but 80 per cent of them are eaten locally.
On our way out of town we stopped at an Amish farm for fresh vegetables. Though the radishes were huge, they weren’t the least bit bitter or strong. Yum! Fresh organic everywhere you look.
For a web album of more pictures, click on the link below:

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