Travel Theme: Entertainment

Of course you would expect anyone who calls herself TC History Gal to find museums entertaining. Unfortunately I forgot to take what my dad always called the “Record Shot.”

Photo by DrFumblefinger.com found on Google Images
Photo by DrFumblefinger.com found on Google Images

Traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Eternal Traveler and my hubby on Maui, HI, we all bought a “Passport to the Past.” This passport doesn’t expire, and allowed us to visit four museums for the normal price of visiting one museum. Below is the kind of building material used to build the walls in a home that lasted for over 180 years.

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The Reverend Ephraim Spaulding built the Baldwin House around 1834, and lived in it for only two years before he got sick and went home to Massachusetts. It was a great find for the Reverend Dr. Dwight Baldwin and his wife, who by this time had two children and lived in a nearby grass hale (hut). Hold onto your hats as we take our first look into the Baldwin House Museum.

Did you get dizzy? Carol and I enjoyed the quilts.  With six living children, Mrs. Baldwin probably had plenty to entertain herself and keep busy.  Somehow she squeezed out time to teach the Hawaiian women to sew. This pattern looks daunting to me, and features common creatures found in the Hawaiian landscape like the cute snail in this picture.

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These beds were in the boy’s room.

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In addition to the three or four boys, they often housed guests in this room. Whew!  I wonder if they had longer days back then than we have today.

According to the docent, the Baldwins had a rebound romance. Dwight Baldwin was thirty-two when he met Charlotte. His fiance jilted him because she did not want to travel to Hawaii. However, the missionary society wouldn’t let him serve in Hawaii if he wasn’t married.

Not to be deterred from his calling,  an hour after meeting Charlotte, an advanced maiden of twenty-five, he proposed. A week later they married, and within three weeks they were on their way on their five month journey to the island of Maui. I wonder how his former fiance felt about being so easily replaced?

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This netting kept the Baldwin boys safe from mosquitos. Hawaii didn’t have mosquitos until a Mexican ship uploaded them to the island. Actually, practically everything on the island is imported from somewhere. It all came by boat – except for the few birds that showed the first Hawaiians that there was land in the vast Pacific.

I hope you have found a brief excerpt from our trip to the Baldwin Home Museum in Lahaina, Maui, HI entertaining.  Click to see more entries to the Travel Theme.

Wo Hing Chinese Museum and Taoist Temple in Maui, HI

Americans constructing the continental railroad, in the United States and creating sugar plantations in Hawaii discovered the value of the hard-working Chinese in the mid 1800s. As the Qing dynasty began its long decline in China, men immigrated to Hawaii without their families to build many of the infrastructures we still enjoy today. On Maui they made the Lahaina sea wall, tunnels through the mountains, the Road to Hana, and the irrigation  systems for the sugar plantations.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-004Chinatown in Lahaina began as single story stores and homes on Front Street. Single men needed places to stay and congregate. Beginning in 1909 the Wo Hing Society began to collect funds to erect a building that would house the Chinese Social Club and provided a place for worship and festivities. This is one of only two social houses that survived in Hawaii.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x3264Wo Hing, the society’s name written around the door, means peace and prosperity.  The Wo Hing Society Hall opened around 1912 and remained active into the 1940s. When the Chinese population in Lahaina moved to Honolulu to find work during World War II, the Wo Hing Temple and Club House fell into disrepair. Restored in 1983 by the Lahaina Restoration Foundation, today it stands impressively restored on Front Street.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-005There were several displays and a gift shop on the first floor. Carol visited with the on-duty docent, and has interesting stories about her. The age of the money encased glass box for public viewing surprised both Vince and Carol. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-009One source stated that the Chinese originally called paper money “flying money. … Paper money came into use in the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD) as a larger denomination of currency to replace the bulky ‘bolt of silk’.”  Colorful Chinese paper money, though easier to carry than currency, had to be replaced or exchanged within three years.  By the late 1200s, at the end of the Song dynasty, paper money became preferred to coins.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-010The square hole in the center of the round Chinese coins had spiritual and practical value as well. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-011A source stated the round shape symbolized heaven or the universe, while the square represented earth or China, which was the center of the universe.

(TianDi)

The holes allowed the bronze caster to line up the coins and scrape off the metal flashing around the edges. It also enabled consumers to string their money to carry it easily.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x3264-002Personally, I love both jade and dogs, so I headed right for these statues.  This pup is not nearly as cute as Puppy Girl, but these fierce-looking animals were guardian lions, not dogs. Westerners called them Lion dogs or Foo dogs. That is not to be confused with “foo foo” like Vince calls Puppy Girl after I spray “foo foo” smells on her after her bath.  This male Lion Dog guards his embroidery ball with his foot.  Trust me, I didn’t try to take his toy away from him.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-001Just outside the door was the cookhouse. The cook probably had to prepare meals for a crowd, and he had a special building to work in. This practice curbed the fire danger to the main structure. Now the museum uses the cookhouse to show visitors films of Hawaii that were taken by Thomas Edison starting in 1898. Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 3264x2448-008This early film show intrigued me for several reasons. First of all the fact that it was made in 1898 and was still preserved amazed me. Additionally, the subjects of the different films fascinated me. In one short clip we saw native Hawaiians rushing around in huge amounts of clothing. We learned at the Baldwin House that Mrs. Baldwin had taught the women to sew. These women must have loved their new skill.

I enjoyed watching “cowboys” moving the  cattle on and off the island. Men and cows both struggled as the cowboys pulled each animal into the water leading the with a rope around their necks. It looked and sounded impossible, but that technique must have been easier than loading five or six bulls onto small row boats and pushing the tons of objecting bulls into the water. I guess the cattle had to swim beside the small boats. I did not think the film would last as long as it did, so I started filming it. Then I got tired of focusing on the film and let my camera roam around the kitchen. I stopped just before the cattle loading started, so you’ll have to visit the museum to see it. I don’t think I’m ready for the big screen.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-013Upstairs we saw the Taoist Temple replete with incense and fresh sacrifices of fruit and water.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-012The temple area had few decorations or furniture.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-014We visited a Taoist temple in Hanford, CA, and this looked much sparser and lighter.

Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-011You will learn more about our visit to the Wo Hing Chinese Museum from my Australian blogging friend, Carol, the Eternal Traveler when she and her friend Justin Beaver start writing about their Hawaiian travels. For now you can enjoy the trip she and her husband took around the perimeter of Australia.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-006If you go to Maui, be sure to get a Passport to the Past for about $10, and that will get you into four museums. We only made it to two this trip, but we kept our cards, and hope to get to the next two museum next time.Hawaii 2016 Taoist Temple 2448x2448-019I don’t want to beat my own drum, but I hope you enjoyed this short visit to the Chinese Wo Hing Museum.

Every Day You Learn Something – Sometimes It’s New

“In three words I can sum up what I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”  Robert Frost

I’ve had an amazing week learning about our little town and the surrounding area.  There is only one book in the library about Woodlake, published in 1971.  I have a digitized copy of that book.   This week I had the privilege of thumbing through the original handwritten manuscript of that little book housed in a 1950s-style blue canvas three-ring binder.

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I have the original manuscript of her other book, The Swift Seasons, in a little blue canvas binder as well, which I am going to digitize starting today.  I get excited about the little things I’m learning or at least surmising.  Yesterday on one of my interviews Robert took me outside to his back yard.

“Want to see the old Antelope School?” he asked me.  “This is it.  It used to be on Grandma Fudge’s property.  Then it moved to Blair’s property, and then they brought it on skids here.”

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Robert and I shared information back and forth for several hours.  “This is so much fun!” he told me.

What I know about Antelope School is that it was first built in 1870.  Woodlake erected a new Antelope School in 1895.  So would this have been the new 1895 school, or the 1870 one?

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The builder didn’t date the school anywhere, least of all the floor boards, but look how wide they are.  Keep in mind that we cut down big trees back in the 1800s.  This picture came from Linda and Bob Hengst.

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When I came back from Linda’s house, Vince said, “What were you doing all that time?  You were over there for three hours!”

In the evening I started the boring work.  It takes 30 seconds to copy each picture, but I have someone to talk to the whole time.  I copied about 45 of Linda and Bob’s pictures, and 75 from Robert. At home it takes about 1 minute to create a TIFF file for each picture, and another minute or so to resize it for my blog so I can see what I’m writing about as I write each caption.  Finally I pick which pictures I know enough about to caption for the day, and that takes at least 20 to 30 minutes to write 50-70 words.  You wouldn’t think it would take so long, but here’s the deal.

  1. I wasn’t there when it happened.  I don’t know the people, usually the place, because they aren’t around any more, or the time.
  2. Usually I just have a name to go by, if that on the picture – that’s about 2 words.
  3. Sometimes I have a little story.  That’s about 20 words, if I’m lucky.
  4. I have tons of books about things like trains and floods in Tulare County, Native Americans, and the general history of Tulare County.  I have an 1892 Atlas of each township in Tulare County with the names of all the property owners at that time.
  5. I have notes from all the people I’ve interviewed, and sometimes audio files.
  6. I have a few newspaper articles that are photocopied, but all the archives from the Woodlake Echo have been destroyed, so all those pictures and original articles are gone.
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What do you think Abe and Carl discussed? I’ll give you a clue. It has to do with college.

So every picture is a bit of a puzzle piece, and I do my best to sort through my evidence, and write the best 70 words possible for each picture.   As of last night I had finished 109 or about 60% of the required 180-200 pictures.  As I talk to more people, I’ll have to narrow it down, and throw some of them out, I’m sure.

A friend asked me what I do all day, and how much time I take writing my book (probably wondering why I hadn’t been calling her much :)).  It seems like I don’t do much, but I don’t seem to have much time to do tons of other things.  I have lots to talk about – as long as you are interested in Woodlake’s history.  Otherwise, I’m kind of dull.  I chose the think I’m focused.  🙂

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You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough – Mae West

Book Review: Team of Rivals

Stephen Spielburg based the epic film,  Lincoln, on the book, Team of Rivals:  The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin.  Amazon already has 1,588 customer reviews of this book.  Mine is not needed, and, although I read it two years ago as I prepared to visit Civil War Battlefields and museums, I can’t help but sing its praises as one of my all time favorite books!

Can you name Lincoln's rivals?
Can you name Lincoln’s rivals?

The rivals mentioned were the others that wanted the Republican presidential nomination in 1860:  William H. Seward – NY, Salmon P. Chase – OH, and Edward Bates – MO.  Most of the research about this book came from their personal journals, and those of their family members who knew and interacted on a personal level with Abraham Lincoln.

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Lincoln amazed and saddened all the pundits when he won the Republican nomination for President in 1860.  Goodwin maintains that he triumphed, not because of a fluke involving the swing state of Illinois, but because he controlled the nomination process with self-reliance, shrewdness, and canniness.  Lincoln’s greatness showed when he managed opinions that differed from his.  To add to more controversy than just having his party rivals for the nomination to the cabinet, Lincoln included former Democrats:  Gideon Welles, Montgomery Blair, and Edwin M. Stanton.  It was even-tempered Lincoln, who “dispelled his colleague’s anxiety and sustained their spirits with his gift for storytelling and his life-affirming sense of humor.”  (loc.211-214)  All his rivals eventually acknowledged his greatness.  Even the treacherous Salmon P. Chase eventually realized that he’d been out witted by the comedy-cloaked brilliance of the 16th President of the United States.

Her passion explains this book's excellence.
Her passion explains this book’s excellence.

Goodwin weaves the stories in this volume with such skill that you wonder what is going to happen next even when you know what happens.  It was the most valuable resource in studying for a Civil War tour that I had personally.  In the hands of language arts and history teachers, it has great use in the Common Core classroom.  The character details will thrill the language arts teachers.  “He lifted his whole foot at once rather than lifting from the toes and then thrust the whole foot down on the ground rather than landing on his heel.”   Details like these that came from Lincoln’s law partner, William Herndon, turn students into historians in the classroom.

Unflattering stories told of Mary Todd Lincoln are somewhat softened by Goodwin’s quotes from primary sources.  On their first meeting at a party Lincoln told the well-educated, lively woman, “I want to dance with you in the worst way.”  Mary confided to her cousin, “He most certainly did.”  (Hmmm, was he the worst dancer??)  Lincoln developed unflinchingly loyal friends during his circuit experience as an attorney.  “Lincoln and his fellow lawyers journeyed together throughout the state.  They shared rooms and sometimes beds in the dusty village inns and taverns.”  Lincoln was always the center of attention.

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Through the pages of this book, you come to understand why Lincoln became the unsurpassed successful president he was.  There is much more to this book than the movie, even though the movie portrayed a most crucial event during Lincoln’s presidency.  If you are a Lincoln fan, you probably already read it.  If you aren’t, it’s worth your time.  🙂

For other top reviews check out Amazon.com.

Book Review: Holding Up the Earth by Dianne E. Gray

Hope, aged 14, became an orphan at age six when her mother died in a car crash.  The backpack they had bought just before the accident became Hope’s hope chest, housing artifacts from her past.  Her most prized possession was her sketchbook.  Hope’s current foster Mom, Sarah, took Hope with her to spend the summer at her childhood home on the prairie in Nebraska with her mother, Anna.  Against her wishes, Hope moved, vowing not to be pressured into adoption.

In Nebraska Anna, Hope’s fun-loving foster grandmother, introduced her to their farm’s history beginning in 1869 when it was first homesteaded. Through a series of diaries Hope learns how three young women, about her age, dealt with the difficulties that faced them across the centuries.  The obstacles in growing crops in first story reminded me of the last book I reviewed, The Worst Hard Times.  It seems that life on the prairie is difficult in any era.

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Dianne E. Gray weaves 4 stories seamlessly into one novel.  Holding Up the Earth hints at the issues facing foster children, but more than that, it is historical fiction.  As such it is very appropriate particularly for 8th and 11th grade students who study American History.  Its readability level and subject matter would appeal primarily to girls aged 10-14.  Nonetheless, although I’m somewhat older than 14, I enjoyed it as well.

You can learn more about author Dianne E. Gray on her website Prairie Voices.