What if you could make a difference and save your local history all at the same time?
You can. And it’s not hard. You just have to want to be involved.
I’ll tell you a story and share an idea.
In my community there was a group of people in the 1970’s and 1980’s who decided history was important. They were the last generation who benefited from their elders telling them the stories. Or just maybe they were the last generation who listened well to the stories. They got together, and with no real money, decided to create the Historical Society. Turns out the town folk wanted to preserve the history too. They donated some money, buildings, old things and plenty of stories.
These everyday rural American’s formed committees and brought history to life. The Old Stone House committee repaired the first permament structure in the county. They held events. They reveled in their history. The REA group took an old building that was a major part of rural Americans history and created a museum. The Pleasant Hill people built a town from nothing. Buildings were donated and they take care of them. When the Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm came on board, that committee ran with the opportunity. Today, our ancestors Danish history is alive and well. The museum committee collected, wrote about, displayed and repaired the items for the museum. They found a building, and they made it bigger. They gave us a place to experience our history. And it’s free.
Today, those founders are still donating countless hours of volunteer time. They could use your help. Carve out some time and spend an hour or two a month at the museum and clip out newspaper clippings. Or make copies of original documents that need to be preserved. Or sit with Shirley or Wilda or Mary or Connie and learn the things they do – and see what you can do to help. Join the machinery hall committee, call Joel Eslinger, and bring another new building into the fold. Call Barry Johnson and learn how to plant a garden for the Harriman Nielsen Historic Farm garden. Contact Deb Brown (me) and help preserve the Old Stone House.
Monday Brook Boehmler and I decided we wanted to see the REA Museum. Neither of us had seen it and thought it would be great to take a tour. We called the museum and they sent us to Marvin Rodemeyer. Marvin agreed that a tour on Wednesday morning would be fine. Brook, Keri Holmes and I met him at the museum. Marvin spent a good hour taking us through the exhibit and museum. It was fascinating and there was so much I didn’t know. For example, there was a town called Reeve built there (now there’s only the museum). The elevator burnt down and that was the end of the town. It has since reverted to farm land. Marv said he’d come over and play at the REA building when he was a kid. Once they let him turn on the machines.
Remarkably, Marv said “you should have been here 10 years ago and you could have talked to the men who worked here.”
That made me think. What stories are we going to lose? How easy would it be for you to step up and give some time and make a difference?
Franklin County Historical Society
as a side note – Brook stated yesterday that he wanted to rejuvenate the committee that takes care of the REA Museum. Brook’s got ideas.
I love your blog especially when you talk about subjects that you clearly love. You know I have a big soft spot for Iowa (felt a lump in my throat when I saw the lane to your farmhouse, cornfield, goose and all), and it’s terrific that you’re keeping history alive there. It’s my opinion that a lot of people who live outside of Iowa have no idea how culturally and historically rich the state is.
Thanks Paula – I’m glad you like what I write. And, yes we need a lot of flights and tours to Iowa- if people only know how cool this state is, we’d be overcrowded!