Monday, July 21, 2014

The Boy at the Museum

I am not a fan of television, and I abhor one particular genre of television programming - reality TV. As if, I ask myself, any of those shows depict the real lives of their characters. If this is true, I have a great deal of sympathy for these people. So why the immense popularity with reality TV? It is human nature to be drawn into other people's problems, to witness their downfalls, even to marvel at their greatest flaws. And this is nothing new.

How did Ripley's Believe It or Not come about? Why were the carnival side shows so popular a hundred years ago? We are fascinated by the dark side of humanity. Such is the premise of “The Boy at the Museum” by Tamera Lenz Muente.



An eight-year-old boy becomes an attraction at a Cincinnati museum in 1843 simply because he was born without legs. The story is told by his mother Elizabeth and by Arthur Watson, a young man desperate for a job in the big city, who gets pulled into the macabre world of the museum by becoming a sort of nanny to the boy. As any eight-year-old boy would be, Enos is just as curious about the museum as its visitors are about him.

In addition to following the antics of young Enos, we follow the stories of his mother and his caretaker Arthur. We root for them and hope that good conquers all in a place where darkness seems to prevail. Told in the first person by both Elizabeth and Arthur, at times, I became confused as to who was telling their story.

Overall, though, the author has done a great job creating an America of the past, one that we don’t usually hear about. “The Boy at the Museum” is a great story and reminds us that we haven’t come so far in 170 years.   

Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's ok to bend.

 Some people refuse to bend when someone corrects them. Eventually they will break, and there will be no one to repair the damage. Proverbs 29:1 Easy-to-Read Version

I’m reading “Years of Stone” by Beth Camp and the male protagonist is serving a seven year prison sentence. It is the 1840s and he has been shipped to Tasmania to serve out his time, so you can imagine what the conditions are like. Being the noble hero that he is, whenever he is confronted with injustice, he is compelled to fight back. But instead he controls his instinct by telling himself, “Bend, don’t break.”

When we are faced with trials, our first reaction is to react, whether that means we adamantly disagree, blatantly argue or simply dig in our heels until we get our own way. So what does it mean to bend instead? Let the other person get what they want. Do what you are told to do no matter how badly you don’t want to or even know that it isn’t the best thing to do. Turn the other cheek. Ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?”

Ask yourself “is this doing harm to another person? Does this go against my beliefs in God? Is this going to matter years from now?” Bend when you need to, just don’t break.


Lord, God, help me to make the right decisions. Give me strength to stand up when I need to and grant me peace when it is best to sit it out. Amen

Outside the prison in Ayacucho, Peru, the only prison I have been inside. Was never so relieved to walk out of a building as I was that day. It does put a whole new perspective on the importance of making the right decisions. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Streets of Hatchet Creek - Day 6

Here I am again sharing the streets of my home town. I didn’t walk much for this blog post. Instead I spent an hour at our little historical museum. It’s too bad that more people don’t stop in there. Many hours by long-time residents have gone into the collected memories contained in the two buildings which make up our historical museum. 
 “ON TARGET was a fiberglass prototype boat built in 1961 by Tomahawk Boat Manufacturing Company. The 18-foot, two-passenger craft was created by company co-founder, Frank Winter. ON TARGET was featured in Newsweek and on the Today show. With its fighter-like fuselage, it was part of Winter’s extensive involvement in boat racing. Despite it groundbreaking features and advance publicity, this one of a kind boat never made it into production.”

“In 1998, after many years in storage, ON TARGET was donated to the Tomahawk Area Historical Society. After undergoing major restoration, as well as more time in storage, the boat finally came to its permanent location in Washington Park in 2009.”  
 “This steam engine, called ‘Old No. 19’, is a Mogul type 2-6-0, was built in 1923 as #19 of the Charcoal Iron Company of America and was first used in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Old No. 19 was purchased by the Marinette, Tomahawk and Western Railroad in 1947 and served the area until 1957. A few years later it was given to the City of Tomahawk. For more than 25 years it was on display near the Wisconsin River bank, not far from the bridge it had once traveled in its working days. In the 1980s it was renovated and moved to its final resting place in Washington Park.”
 This log cabin had been originally built in 1927 on the North Tomahawk Avenue boulevard and served as the Tomahawk Information and Visitor Center. It burned in the famous 1929 Mitchell Fire but was rebuilt. In 1987 it was moved to its current location in Washington Park.

In 1888, this building became the city’s first school building. It served as grade school, kindergarten and school district office. In 2000 it became the second historical museum, across the street from the log cabin.  
 Inside the old school-house museum. Scenes from days gone past.
 (Information included in today’s blog was taken from signs posted in Washington Park or from articles in the book “Souvenir Views ofTomahawk, Wisconsin” compiled by Dixie and Andy Zastrow.)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Happy Birthday, Pat

Fifty-five years ago today, Paul and Margaret welcomed a second daughter into their family. Patricia Ann was chubby and cheerful, or so I’ve heard from family stories and seen in family pictures.

At the time, Pat was the youngest of the whole extended family. Her brother and sister were much older, as were the cousins who got together all the time. It didn’t take her parents long to realize that they needed to have a fourth child to raise along with Pat so that she wasn’t so spoiled.

That’s how I ended up in the picture. Or at least in these pictures. 
Christmas 1967
 Christmas 1971
 July 1985, the day of my first wedding. 
No, we hadn't planned on wearing the same style of shirt that morning.
 Summer 1993, at O-Kun-De-Kun Falls in Michigan's U.P. on our way to go camping. 
Don't you love my shorts. I finally threw them away just a few years ago. Scary. 
 Spring 1997, at The Luxor in Las Vegas
Summer 1997, camping with my kids at Amnicon State Park.
We got the camper out this weekend to clean it up to take camping later this month. I panicked over its state of decrepitness, fearing there was no way we could take it camping. I shed a few tears at the thought of losing it, got a grip, cleaned it up and told it that it had to give us a few more trips.

Happy Birthday, Pat. You bum, you will forever be 39, while I keep getting older. Someday down the road, we will be together again. And then it won’t matter how old we are. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

How do you choose your king?

“One day the trees decided to choose a king to rule over them. The trees said to the olive tree, ‘You be king over us.’

“But the olive tree said, ‘My oil is used to honor gods and humans. Should I stop making my oil just to go and sway over the other trees?’
(Not an Olive Tree)

“Then the trees said to the fig tree, ‘Come and be our king.’

“But the fig tree answered, ‘Should I stop making my good, sweet fruit just to go and sway over the other trees?’ 

(Not a Fig Tree)

“Then the trees said to the vine, ‘Come and be our king.’

“But the vine answered, ‘My wine makes men and kings happy. Should I stop making my wine just to go and sway over the trees?’
(Yeah, I found a Vineyard)

“Finally, all the trees said to the thornbush, ‘Come and be our king.’

“But the thornbush said to the trees, ‘If you really want to make me king over you, come and find shelter in my shade. But if you don’t want to do this, let fire come out of the thornbush. Let the fire burn even the cedar trees of Lebanon.’ Judges 9:8-15 Easy-to-Read Version
(A Thorn Bush in Africa)

What do these verses mean to you? I have my own thoughts, which I feel best to keep to myself. All I will say is that when I ran across these Bible passages a while back I was once again blown away that God came up with this stuff thousands of years ago and yet we seem to be living this out today.

Lord, help us to wisely choose who our leaders will be. Let us always remember that you are the ultimate ruler and King. Amen.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Photo Challenge - Portraits



This month's photo challenge was "portraits". I reached way back in the archives for these first pictures. They are ones I took of my daughter for her senior portrait in the fall of 2007. I took them with my Yaschica 35 mm SLR camera and had the film downloaded onto CD right away so that I could tweek the photos on the computer. I like my simple, light-weight digital camera, but sometimes I still miss my bulky ancient 35 mm.
This would be the most recent family portrait. I took this with my Nikon Coolpix of the grandkids with my mother-in-law for her 80th birthday this May.

I had this sudden realization about family portraits just this week. Whenever my kids come over I always want to get a nice picture of them (they have been over several times since this portrait was taken), and they always give me a hard time so I don't get many decent shots. It just dawned on me why this is such a big deal to me. Coz there just aren't that many pictures of me when I was growing up. My dad had his 8mm movie camera and those grainy films are the majority of the photographic record of my childhood.

My advise: take as many pictures of the family as you can, restore as many of the old pictures as you can, and save them ALL.
My mom and my sister, Pat, at my first wedding in 1985. Aren't they both beautiful? 
My sister is gone now and my poor 87-year-old mom is a fraction of this size. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The Streets of Hatchet Creek - Day 5

Finally I have my map together. The streets I walked tonight are highlighted in yellow. The ones I have already done are in green.


Since it was my writers group again tonight, I started out at the library, headed south on Railway Street, then meandered my way back to Dairy Queen. Unfortunately DQ was swamped because every Wednesday night during the summer they have “Music on the River”, which is right across the street from DQ. Even though I don’t like crowds I really need to go to one of these outdoor concerts in the Park sometime.


If I continue my zig-zagging path, I will be re-walking a lot of streets. Oh, well. 
The parking lot on the back side of the Tomahawk Public Library.
 The back side of a building which has been sitting empty for years. A while back they had a haunted house in here. Way back it was a boat factory, and I think before that it was a casket factory. I always thought it would make a great community center.
 Flowers on the end of Main Street. How pretty.
 This was the Old Train Depot back in the day. It was the Sears catalog store for a long time, and before that a gift shop, the name of which escapes me.
Currently the American Legion. Had been a day care center for a while, but back when I was a kid it was Dr. Henderson's office. Can't say that I have a lot of good memories from inside this building.
I guess it goes without saying who this guy was. 
Proud home of the Tomahawk Volunteer Fire Department
 Another sign that states the obvious, or so one would think.Check out their website here. I never knew.
 I always liked this fence wall. Oh, look I can buy it, but I guess I gotta take the house too.
Wagon on the north side of the Barber's Closet. There really are a lot of people in this town who want to make it look like a special place to live.