Thursday, August 14, 2014

Silver Lining

A few weeks ago Ben and I taught a workshop for the local youth of our church at their annual youth conference. The conference was held about an hour and a half south of Bloomington and was in the midst of our packing, working, and hosting my mom, but we were looking forward to the event and discussing a topic we feel passionate about: people feeling like they don't belong, specifically at church.

The workshop went really well and it felt great to have a fairly large thing crossed off our list (another big thing was speaking at church that weekend... it was a really busy weekend). The kids seemed to enjoy the discussion and they got a really big kick out of Ben (he's pretty great). Free lunch was consumed, great conversation was had, and we left for home to work on the many things we had to work on.

Then, twenty minutes into our drive, our rear breaks blew up. We knew they needed work and we even had an appointment to take the car in the following Thursday (this was Friday...) which was the soonest the mechanic could see us. Nevertheless, the breaks decided that specific moment was their time to go. We pulled into a Wal-Mart parking lot, learned we were in Washington, Indiana, and desperately searched for a mechanic that could squeeze us in. We drove a short distance and found ourselves "downtown" about two blocks away from Main Street. Washington is a seriously small town with seemingly little to offer; nevertheless, we decided to explore on foot while our car was getting repaired.

Almost immediately upon turning onto Main (only really a few blocks long) we stumbled upon the local museum. It didn't look like much, certainly only one, maybe two, rooms with handful of artifacts from town locals. Little did we know we were in for a treat!

The first floor had three rooms, the first of which was set up as a one-room school house with the items inside donated from actual school houses in the county.

Rules for teachers, circa 1872:

A class of graduating seniors:

The next two rooms were large and filled with random items like high school jackets, newspapers from the local branch of the KKK, and fashion plates from the local dressmaker.

Left: a soda bottle topper, Right: a salon chair with curlers

Left: a battle flag from the Civil War, Right: other Civil War memorabilia:

A display skeleton a local found in their closet. Turns out it is an actual skeleton of a 28-year-old woman.

Upstairs there was even more! The building had once been a mason's lodge and when they left the building they couldn't take their large (and beautiful) cloak closets, which you can kind of see in the picture below, so the curators replaced the panel on each door with archival glass and use them to store military uniforms of the early 20th century. The rest of the room was pretty much dedicated to displaying items collected from the 20th century wars.

I was mesmerized by this picture which actually extends further on each side.

To get to the final portion of the museum we had to go through this room which is a floor-to-ceiling painting of the old town.

Once we made it through old town, we arrived at the Gill Funeral Practices Exhibit. Each room was set up to display the mortuary/funeral practices of a decade or era. So the first room was modeled after the local mortician's office from the mid-19th century, the next room was a room from the early 20th century, etc. There was also a display of different types of coffins and miniature hearses from horse-drawn carriage through to today.

The first electric embalming machine from 1940:

A wicker transportation coffin and, behind it, a display coffin with a drain at the end and tilted so that the ice the body was stored on could melt and drain into a bucket kept under the drain.

Our dear friend, Mara, arrived to take us home but the car was almost finished so I stayed while Ben and Mara left to get home in time for a performance that night of The Miracle Worker. Instead of just waiting around I decided to take a walk around town to explore a little more. There was some beautiful architecture.

I chuckled at this charming reserved parking sign.

Soon the car was ready to drive home. It was a really good day, and a great reminder that life throws curve balls that interrupt our plans but when we set aside our expectations, unexpected treasures may lay in store.

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