Monday, July 6, 2009

The work intensifies

Let's see, where did we leave off? We finally got to a Harmonia Sacra sing last night! It was, thankfully, much different than a Sacred Harp sing. Nobody yells, it actually sounds pretty nice, and the people singing the songs believe the words. It was in a larger Mennonite church, and most of the singers were gray-headed (like me, but even older...) There were a few younger people.

The men and women sat together, not on opposite sides of the church. One man started out leading a song or two, and then he listed two or three people he wanted to lead the next songs. As we finished one song, another leader would get up, tell us the song number for the "Legacy" hymnal (a more modern, standard format Harmonia Sacra) and another page for the "long" book (the facsimile of the earlier editions of Harmonia Sacra). We sang without accompaniment. Most leaders gave a pitch with a pitch pipe before they started. It was a peaceful, quiet sort of event with peaceful, quiet sorts of people.

There was one sweet, spunky looking older lady (with Forster=style eyebrows) that looked like she would be really fun to get to know. Her face looked like she had learned the things God had wanted her to learn through the circumstances of her life. We tried some songs that people didn't know so well, and others that they were obviously more familiar with. I was impressed with how many different people were willing and able to lead us. We sang a song to the tune of "O Sing a New Song to the Lord" (Psalm 98). The tune was changed a bit without the different voices entering at different times.

Most songs were of a more devotional nature (no imprecatory Psalms!), and we sang "Rock of Ages" and a few other familiar hymns, and one old guy led one song and then said something about the next one not being in the Harmonia Sacra, but that no one had kicked him out yet for singing it at the sings. It was the first verse of "Jesus Loves Me." He and the song made me think of that last Chancellorsville when Grandpa and Grandy sang "Jesus Loves Me" for the talent show.

We talked to several people afterwards. The lady in front of us, Mrs. Rhodes, commented on Joseph's tenor singing and talked to us quite awhile about learning to sing with shaped notes while she was in school (a Mennonite, not government, school) She and her husband read music totally by knowing the shaped notes, and can read the songs at the sings, but she said it had made it very difficult for her to learn to read "round" (regular) notes. She was making sure that her children learned how to read regular notation.

Mr. Horst, from the Crossroads Mennonite and Brethern Center that we went to on Friday, sat with us, and told Joseph different things about the songs as we sang. Mr.Showalter showed Joseph the newest edition of the Harmonia Sacra, one produced by the man that he will be talking to in Goshen, Indiana.

It was a very relaxing least until we met up with one last guy. He was the most energetic, fast-talking, personal-space-invading, fact-crammed person I think I've ever met. He talked to us for more than an hour in the parking lot, while I kept being distracted by fire flies blinking in the twilight. He is Reformed, has taught in classical schools, speaks Dutch and English, knows tons about local and every other kind of history, knew all about different hymnals and singing books, plays with a Baroque ensemble, is helping provide hospice care for his 103-year-old Grandma, knows an old guy who made lots of money raising hogs and spent it all on old and rare books, wondered if we were some of those Neo-Calvinists (leaning in toward me with his hands behind his back and his glasses slipping down his nose). I don't think I've ever met anyone quite like him. He did have some good tips for Joseph's study.

We finally went home and made dinner (pasta with turkey, broccoli, and parmesan, and Kline's chocolate ice cream (what was left after some of it leaked all over in our tiny freezer) and California strawberries. Then we spent the evening writing in journals, on this blog, and chatting with folks on Google.

This morning we arrived at the Rockingham Historical Society a couple minutes after they opened. I didn't remember that they had such a nice museum exhibit when we were here ten years ago.

And I had forgotten that we would get to see Gabriel Shank's battle flag! It was being restored when we were here last, and Daniel played his fiddle for hours during a town festival to raise money for its restoration. It was so amazing to stand there and look at the battle-worn flag, and know that Gabriel had carried it through battles, with God protecting him. The upper left and lower right corners were gone, there were many places that were mended with simple, masculine-looking whip stitches of different colored threads, and a large tear was right in the center portion where the figures are.

I was astonished to see my name, along with many others, on a plaque, noting that we had donated to its restoration in memory of Gabriel Shank. Another couple by the name of Bowers had also donated in his memory.

Can you see the names?

I was glad to be able to help Joseph make copies of different articles from the historical files as he found different items of interest for his research. I love this kind of work -- digging up information, putting together pieces of puzzle. That's why I haven't delved too deeply into genealogy yet; I'm afraid of myself if I get started. Susannah, it would be a fun history project together over the next couple years, wouldn't it, working on researching more of the family roots?

Rockingham County Historical library

We worked until 12:30 or so, ate our sandwiches on the way to Eastern Mennonite University, and I dropped Joseph off for his meeting with Ken Nafziger. I spent the time getting stamps at the post office and wandering through an indoor market south of town. One market space was loaded with all the Sprinkle Publication books, lots of Lamplighter style books, regimental histories, regional histories, and books on the War for Independence and the Second War for Independence.

Ken Nafziger's office

I found the perfect dinner bell I have been searching for for at least 5 years. (It's loud!) For some reason I thought of John (c.) when I saw the poster of the guy pointing his gun out at the viewer, saying, "Smile when you say Dixie." I also found the first produce stand I've seen (which surprises me -- there were so many produce stands in the Amish country of Pennsylvania. I thought it would be similar here with the Mennonites) I got some blueberries (to add to our cereal in the morning) and some peaches (to have with some more Klines ice cream when they get ripe. :-)

When Joseph's appointment was over I joined him in the historical library at EMU and helped make more copies. It's going to be really fun to sit down and read all this stuff when we get home!

EMU Historical Library

Photocopy of Joseph Funk's will

After the libary closed, we managed to find our way to Singers Glen, a trip I've been eager to make ever since we were there on our family trip. I hope heaven is a little bit like Singers Glen. It has to be one of my favorite spots on this planet. I love the way the road winds through town with the trees hanging over it, and all the broad, green lawns around the white houses. The birds were happy, too. We walked our way through town, reading Dale MacAllister's walking tour pamphlet as we went.
First glimpse of the Geil house from a distance

We were able to walk through the yard of Joseph Funk's house, and peek in the windows, since no one is living in the house now. It's a tiny house, fairly primitive house. We actually met up with Dale in the parking lot of the church. He was putting up letters on the church sign, announcing the Bible school that will happen next week. The Geil house still looks great. We decided to save our walk through the cemetery for tomorrow night, when we can bring a picnic. We came home an even more back route than the normal, already quiet route we had taken. It was beautiful with long shadows on the hills and behind the barns, as the sun went lower and lower in the sky.

Bumper sticker on the back of a rusty pickup next to Timothy Funk's old store building. It looks like someone is living in the store.

Joseph in front of Joseph Funk's house

Beautiful back roads views!

Dinner was pork chops. corn on the cob, rice, green salad, and another ice cream cone at Kline's Dairy Bar. Joseph should have included an ice cream allowance in his budget for this trip. Whoa! I just saw the time! Time to quit!

Question of the day: What does "WWBD?" mean? (as seen on the back of the same pickup at Timothy Funk's store)


  1. Sounds like Kline's is a hit! ;-)
    I guess it means either "What would Buhdda do?" or "What would Batman do?" :-)

  2. Cool post. Love all the pictures. Miss you guys!