Sunday, December 6, 2009

Volunteering at Lang Pioneer Village

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Today’s Blog Post
Volunteering at Lang Pioneer Village

The words are so powerful… jumping from my screen…
“The heart of a volunteer is not measured in size, but by depth of the commitment to make a difference in the lives of others. ~ DeAnn Hollis”

“You make a living by what you get, but you make a life by what you give.” ~ Winston Churchill

“Don't ever question the value of volunteers. Noah's Ark was built by volunteers; the Titanic was built by professionals.” ~ unknown

“No person was ever honored for what he received. Honor is given by what he gave.” ~ Calvin Coolidge

It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference.
~ Tom Brokaw

“Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it.” ~ Chinese Proverb

“You have not lived until you have done something for someone who can never repay you.” ~ unknown

“Volunteers are not paid not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.” ~ unknown

Last Evening and Tonight
Again I have been to Lang Pioneer Village as a volunteer. It happened last evening as we celebrated the 2009 “Christmas by Candlelight”.

An army of some of the best volunteers in all of Ontario came together to make a difference for somewhere between 600 to 700 folk that gathered. They all came to the Village that sits somewhere in the era of 1856 to 1890 village of rural Ontario.

The smells, the sounds, the sights, and the feel of Old Ontario is as alive in Lang Pioneer Village as it was 153 years ago – when real people came to this real village so long ago.

One guest at the village last evening told me, “I have come every year to this Village celebration for a long time now… I wouldn’t miss it for anything! This is a part of Christmas for our family. We can go back in time to when it was simpler.”

The room that I am situated in to do the Lace Making demonstration is warm and cozy.

Beside me is ‘Carrie’, and expert volunteer in just about everything. She is demonstrating a very old paper art form that was used to make simple Christmas Tree Decorations. She also does ‘tinsmithing’ – working tin into all kinds of shapes that are useful and decorative.

Across and to my right is Catherine, an amazing lady, that takes bows from trees and fashions a wreaths that will adorn the front doors of the very old houses in the Village. She twists and folds and manipulates the beautifully scented every green bows into garlands as well… showing the 2009 crowd how they can take a bit of the Village craft home with them.

Just beside her and directly across from me is ‘Father Christmas’. He is not the fat, Coca Cola Santa Claus with the curly white beard and the “Ho, Ho, Ho” of the Shopping Mall. This one is a kindly older man dressed in a robe like coat that could pass for a ‘rich man’ or a ‘king’ in the poor Village.

The Christmas Tree standing beside him is covered with simple decorations that are hand made, mixed with sheets that ask for blessings for others. No fancy electrical lights and tinsel here… just a simple tree from long ago… before Wii, before Nintendo, before Barbie & Ken, and IPods and Cell Phones with ‘Unlimited Texting’.

Remember this is Christmas of 1856 to 1890.

On my Lace Making Table I have a model of an 1860 toy that I have constructed. It is a carousel that has four horses with Tatted saddles. The horses stand on the round base which is hanging from red ribbons. As you wind up the base round and round the center pole – then let go – the carousel whirrs silently one way and then the other as gravity and momentum take over.

The children gathered quietly at the table with wide eyes and watch intently as the carousel does its thing. “Wow! Mommy look at this.” is the comment over and over from little boys and girls that are delighted with something so simple. Their dads ask questions about ‘how to’ then continue making mental notes for their workshop.

One older lady (maybe 80+ years young)looked at the spinning carousel and said quietly… “We used to have one like this a long time ago when I was a little girl… this is so beautiful!” Her eyes filled with a little tear. Christmas from long ago came back again for this dear lady.

On my table I have all the tatting that I have done over the years. I have tatted since 1976 – 33 years of it. To say that it is spectacular sounds as if I am bragging… I am not… and it is!

One of the Tatting Shuttles that I have on display was hand carved by my Great Grandpa Ben Phillips about 1895. He made three from Hickory found on his farm near Springfield, Illinois. His daughter Lenore was young at the time as well as her two sisters. Together they sat around the large kitchen table in the old farm house. The only light was a coal oil lamp that flooded the light for the students and teacher to see.

There was no Radio yet, definitely no TV, and reading material was well read on that small farm. Perhaps the only sound was the ticking from the old clock that hung in the dinning room… and the crackle of the burning wood in the old kitchen stove… the date was about 1895.

The Tatting Shuttle that I have on display has traveled a long way from Springfield, Illinois. It went with Lenore when she became a School Teacher in the lonely country school… (not far from where Jessie James, the Outlaw, was killed – I was told). It went with her through the some of the later wild-west days. It came with her in 1915 as her favorite belongings when she moved to southern Saskatchewan as a new bride to live in the small wooden house that her “Jim” had made for her on his new farm.

It was there with her as her children were born, Annie, Clifford, Clara and Ralph. She tatted all through those times of loneliness on that vast prairie with the eternal wind howling around the little shack, and through the howling blizzards of the ice cold winter time.

If this small shuttle could speak – what a story it could tell.

Lenore used this shuttle during the war time and specially through 1943 and into 1944, April 13 th to be exact, when her first Grandson Murray Lincoln was born. That was me if you have caught it yet.

Lenore Phillips Lincoln tatted until just before she passed away January 11, 1973 at 85 years old.

(Ben Phillip's Hand Carved Hickory Shuttle shown with Lenore Lincoln's last tatting shuttle)

There on my Tatting Table display, in the display case, nestled beside the Hickory Shuttle is my Grandma Lenore Lincoln’s last piece of Tatting that she was doing just before she died. It is a handkerchief purchased from a ‘5 and 10 Cent’ store… and has part of her Tatted edging already attached with a well used metal tatting shuttle still in place – ready to finish the job.

As I told that story many, many time last evening the response was similar… “What a treasure…” Yes it is… yes it is.

I cannot prove it theologically and there is no physical or spiritual evidence for this. Being “a man of the cloth” I would/could not preach this… but last night… I think Grandma Lenore Lincoln along with her dad, my Great Grandpa Ben Phillips were standing near by… and smiling… as their little boy Murray proudly displayed what one shuttle has done over the approximately 115 years later.

Today I read the family history book my Aunt Annie and Cousin John McCaw gave me. Something of note popped out today…
“Ben Phillips was a great story teller who often embellished the truth for the sake of the story. When his wife was near she would say, “Now Ben,” and he would make the story a little more realistic. But as soon as she was out of hearing range, the story would be changed again and greatly exaggerated! Hearing this account in 1980 his daughter, Clara(my Great Aunt), exclaimed, “Isn’t that the truth!”

I come by it honestly… oh boy.

Hey! I am a volunteer and proud of it!

~ Murray Lincoln ~

Lang Village site – showing the special events – Dec 5 & 6


❦TattingChic said...

What a precious heritage you have! It would be neat to see photos of that old hickory shuttle and the tatted lace pieces that you speak of in this post! (Hint, hint: you could always edit and upload them into this current post to accompany the words) :) (just a thought) :)

Gina said...

Hey Murray, I loved hearing your stories when I was in Canada. Did you have that shuttle with you then? Would like to have seen it. I have a fallen Hickory that I want a shuttle made from so I was especially impressed by the story.

David Grant said...

Isn't it nice to be a volunteer again? When pastoring, no matter how much extra time you put in, you're just doing your job is the thinking of most people. Much better being honored with simply honor.

From Murray & Alida.... said...

David it feels great! Really!

Gina... I have added some photos for my Tatting Friends (and Non Tatting Friends to understand)-