select photos from travel article
Think back to your favorite teacher. The one with the unvarying smile, the perpetually kind demeanor, and brimming with the unabashed joy of sharing interesting facts and enlighten tidings. Now, picture her in a handmade calico apron over a modestly high-necked, long-sleeve dress, made from tow linen spun from cultivated flax. Or him, in his vest and trousers fabricated out of buckskin or possible fashioned from the wool shorn off one of the family's sheep. Picture him or her now happily dispensing their volumes of charm, knowledge and wisdom from within a sprawling and wondrous microcosm named simply: Old World Wisconsin. An inch-for-inch living, breathing and awe-inspiring enclave of nineteenth and early twentieth century ethnic environs that have been painstakingly preserved for the enrichment, edification and fascination of all who visit. This is not a theme park; not a series of replicated villages. This is a lovingly re-installed collection of rescued farms, houses, and compounds from every corner of the State. Family domiciles, stables, barns, stores, blacksmith and wheelwright shops, schoolhouses, implement sheds, even an outhouse or two. Each secured by the tireless and passionate efforts of key staff members. These irreplaceable treasures have been sought out and snatched up before the dozers took their toll. Then each is carefully dismantled, orderly numbered, transported and then sedulously reassembled to their near perfect origins: board-by-board, stone-by-stone and pot-by-pan. Not to mention housing a surprising menagerie of domesticated livestock. All settled amidst a likewise carefully created and maintained indigenous habitat. There are the very farmsteads and settlements of out European ancestors. Our families. In all there exist sixty historic structures and over one hundred years of American survival and ingenuity to take in. Each guide and docent is thoroughly and respectfully versed in every aspect of these historic hamlets. Not just of the specifics of the ages in which they subsisted, but of the citizenry, of the handmade tools and machine implements, and the farming of their own foods, their ingenious inventions of necessity and of comfort, their health, clothing, and of their spiritual nourishment. Even their most humble entertainment. In short, the all-encompassing elements of their daily toil, where every person had a long list of chores, while every penny had a single purpose. Life is tough. But this life was tougher. And yet, beauty, serenity and sensibility seem almost to have been harvested right alongside the autumn wheat. Whether a visitor comes once or comes often, they learn to appreciate and value that-and-those that came before us all. Yet, all have an enriching and beneficial experience, happily provided by these wonderful teachers of yesterday who just happen to disguise themselves as pioneering men and women of our Country's rich past.
Former Advertising Creative Director turned award-winning professional photographer (2010). Occasional travel writer, former and awarded creative of television, radio and print advertising. Living in suburban Milwaukee, WI. USA