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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Arrival

This morning I picked up my copy of my newest book, The History of the John F. Martin Company. This is the second book published this year and number eleven in the lineup. 
I counted it a privilege to be asked to write this book for the company. John Martin was my uncle, married to my father's sister, Edna. We spent a lot of time with their family and I knew them well. I remember the butcher shop on the farm before the company was incorporated. 
John and Edna were married during the Depression and struggled to find solid financial footing while their family continued to grow. John's butchering business began with dressing chickens which he took to market in Philadelphia. Many years later he began doing custom butchering in the shop where he once dressed chickens. Then he got into the retail business and incorporated in 1961 as John F. Martin & Sons. Eventually the family built their own grocery store.
The business grew by leaps and bounds with products being shipped across the country. The company outgrew the plant on the farm, opened a second plant, and moved all the bacon production into it. Both plants include a warehouse department which handles products not made by the company. 
John would be amazed if he saw his company today. He was just trying to make a living to provide for his family and had no intentions of establishing a business of this size. But I'm sure he would be pleased to see his grandsons are now managing the company and this year two of the fourth generation became partners in the business.
If you would like to read the whole story, look for this book in local bookstores.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Changing of the Guard

So far this fall has been warm and dry. We have not turned the heat on yet which will help to stretch the heating oil supply. On the down side, I'm afraid we won't have a very colorful leaf display this year as that requires sunny days and cool nights. 
This week it began to change as we had some rain and days that didn't get out of the sixties. As I was cleaning today I brought out some fall things to replace summer ones and took some screens out of a few windows. I put the candle lights in the windows again. I think it looks so welcoming to have lights in the windows but take them out over summer when the daylight lasts so long and the windows are open. I also divided a Boston fern and brought it inside. The patio where my plants live in the summer is not heated and the jungle moves indoors for the winter. It's not too cool out there for them yet but it won't be long until the rest come in.
I finished housecleaning the kitchen yesterday and am ready to shift into my fall and winter projects. I have the usual scrapbooking and crocheting to do and also plan to put a quilt in this winter. At this point the winter doesn't look as hectic as the last one. I'm looking forward to a more relaxed pace. 
I'm glad I live in a place with four distinct seasons. Each one is beautiful in its turn and has its own work to do. Variety is the spice of life.


Monday, October 2, 2017

Burkholder Tour

On Saturday I did something I never did before. I was the main narrator on a bus tour sponsored by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society. The tour was based on my newest book, Loyalty Test. The bus was filled by the middle of June, more than three months in advance. I did not know who had signed up so it was interesting to see who came. 
We left the historical society at 8 a.m. Our first stop was the Groffdale Mennonite cemetery where Christian Burkholder and some of his family members are buried. Lloyd Weiler was the speaker there. He gave us some Groffdale history and showed us the gravesites of Christian and his wife's grandfather, immigrant Hans Groff, who was the first to settle there in 1717.

 This picture was taken several years ago. There was no snow on the ground on Saturday!

After that, we drove by the first farm Christian Burkholder owned on the south side of the Fairmount hill. The land stretches north to Farmersville Road at the foot of the hill. This stone house was built in 1770, the year Christian paid his father-in-law for the place.

In the 1780s. Christian bought three farms on the north side of the hill for himself and two of his sons. These farms stretched from the Conestoga creek and up over the Fairmount hill and down to Farmersville road on the south side of the hill. He owned the whole Fairmount hill and the land on three sides of it. What would he say if he could see it today?

This is the view from the hill of the land Christian and his sons farmed. Christian's farm is the set of buildings in the center left. His son Abraham's farm is on the left edge and Christian Jr.'s farm is just right of center, marked by the red roof building.

Before going down to the farms, we went into the Muddy Creek Library on the Fairmount hill to see Christian's Martyrs Mirror and Froschauer Bible as well as other artifacts on display.

We got off the bus at Christian's farm. The current owner is the tenth generation of Christian's descendants to own the farm. In the attic is a date stone that once said the house was built in 1775 but a jolt during a severe thunderstorm shook off the plaster on which it was written.

Our next stop was at the Ephrata Cloister where Ken Sensenig told us the story of John and Anna Bear's voluntary service there during the Revolutionary War. While nursing the ill and wounded soldiers, they caught the typhoid of their patients and also died.

Christian's sister Elizabeth married Jacob Sensenig. We drove to his farm south of Hinkletown and showed the people how to find the Sensenig cemetery on their farm where they are buried. Unfortunately, the bus could not drive the long bumpy field lane to reach it and it was too far to walk. All we could do was tell them how to find it and give them a photo of it. They will have to go back sometime on their own to see it.

Lunch was served at the Village Chapel in Voganville. Then we headed for Bowmansville where Christian's oldest brother lived and preached. We pointed out a few highlights along the way such as the mill and the place where the first Mennonite church was built in 1794. It stood on a spot that is now in town. We pulled off at the Pine Grove cemetery where we believe Ulrich is buried but he has no legible gravestone. It is probably one of the old field stones that no longer has any markings.

Then we went to Ulrich Burkholder's farm. He first lived in a log house and then constructed a stone addition. The current owners have done a wonderful job of restoring the house. The log end is on the left. They have added a new log addition on the back. The owners invited us to tour the inside of the house and served cider on the porch. For some, this was the highlight of the tour.

Our last stop was a bathroom break at the Bowmansville Mennonite Church. Then we headed back to Lancaster and arrived a half hour ahead of schedule at 4:30 p.m. It was a long but interesting day. From the feedback I got, our guests enjoyed the tour and felt they got their money's worth. I enjoyed it too but am glad it's behind me. Now I'm done with all my speaking engagements for this year. Well, except for teaching Sunday school, but that doesn't count.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Nostalgic Journey

Yesterday I tackled a project that has been on my bucket list for several years. My sister gave me a big bag of the letters I wrote to her over the years and I thought someday I will read them. They stayed safely tucked away "until I have time." Yesterday I decided the time had come and dug them out of hiding.
The first thing I needed to do was sort and organize them. It took me most of the day to do that. Now each year is in a separate folder with the letters flattened and in order by date. They are ready to be read and enjoyed. I read a few snatches here and there and look forward to reading them in entirety. I'm sure I have forgotten many of the little incidents they will reveal.
I made some interesting observations as I organized the letters. Most of the envelopes were missing but I amazed myself that I had faithfully written the date on all but a small handful of letters. That greatly helped in organizing them. The first letter was from 1965 after my sister was newly married and the last was in 2004. I kept the few envelopes that were included because they show the rising cost of postage. In 1965 a stamp was five cents and by 1996 it had risen to thirty-two cents. 
The letters also revealed other progressions. In the 60s and 70s most of my letters were written on whatever scrap or advertising tablets I could get free. In 1980 I had enough money to actually purchase a tablet of plain writing paper. 
All of the letters were handwritten until 1991. Then I purchased my first computer and the first typed letter appeared. By 1992, the majority of the letters were typed. The first computer paper had those strips on each side with holes to feed the paper through the printer.
I got a Juno email account in 1996 and after that most of the letters were sent by email. They would have disappeared into cyberspace but my sister printed them out and saved them. I'm sorry to say I did not return the favor and save all the letters and emails she sent to me.Old letters are fast becoming antiques as this generation communicates by disposable messages via email, text, twitter, and whatnot. 
I will read these letters to see if the words I wrote are worth saving for my posterity. If I wrote words better left unsaid, those will disappear. "By thy words thou shalt be justified and by thy words thou shalt be condemned."

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gift Wrap

The Gift Wrap and The Jewel

I looked in the mirror and what did I see
But a little old lady peering back at me,
With bags and sags and wrinkles, and wispy white hair
and I asked my reflection, how did you get there?

You once were straight and vigorous,
And now you're stooped and weak,
When I tried so hard to keep you
From becoming an antique.

My reflection's eyes twinkled,
And she solemnly replied,
You're looking at the gift wrap
And not the jewel inside.

A living gem and precious,
Of unimagined worth,
Unique and true, the real you,
The only one on earth.

The years that spoil your gift wrap
With other things more cruel,
Should purify and strengthen
And polish up that jewel.

So focus your attention
On the inside, not the out,
By being kinder, wiser,
More content, and more devout.

Then, when your gift wrap's stripped away,
Your jewel will be set free,
To radiate God's glory
Throughout eternity.

By Wanda B. Goines (age 92)

Monday, September 18, 2017

Switzerland Film

This video was produced for the 300th anniversary of the Hersheys in America and celebrated this past weekend.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

More Changes

About this time last year, Leroy's mom decided she is tired of maintaining a house and wants to go to an assisted living home where she would not be so lonely. At 93, I could understand and appreciate that decision. Her diminishing vision and hearing increasingly limited her activities. She put her name on the waiting list at her first choice of a Home and set about disbursing her possessions. 
We had several family meetings to discuss how to proceed and contracted with an auctioneer for a public sale of her property and contents at the end of April this year. Then we sorted through things that she thought should stay in the family or that someone in the family might want for sentimental reasons. A family sale was held at the end of January for those things. It was a blessing to have her with us to tell us what things were and where they came from.
Then the huge task of emptying the house and preparing for public sale began. Two auctioneers were selling most of the day on April 29. By the end of the day her possessions had been reduced to personal things that would fit in one room. 
A room was still not available at the Home so she lived with her single daughter until there would be an opening for her. We were pleasantly surprised when the wait turned out to be only four months. On Mom's 94th birthday, she was informed that a room was available. A few days later, on Labor Day, she moved to the Home. 
Some old people are uncooperative and cause major problem for their children. We have been blessed with a mom who always accepted life as it came and made the best of it whether it was pleasant or not. She decided on her own that she no longer wants to drive a car and when she was ready to go to a Home. She is a great example of aging with grace. I hope I can be the same if I live that long and not create a problem for my children.