Arbor Day Roots

While in Lincoln we have been staying at the “Estate” of friends Mike and Jeanne. It is a beautiful property, south and west of town, and has a cute house and a really cool old barn. I love old barns, and so you get a bunch of pictures here. The date 1932 appears on the pad in front of a door in the back. Perhaps the original “front” door?

Some very tall folks cast shadows on the road in front of their place…

One Pancake for Six

Hanging around Becky you always get great food! Here is a “Pancake”… in a single sheet, garnished with banana, blueberries and pecans. Fantastic!

See ‘Ya @ Waubunsee!

The Something Else Sabbath School has an annual campout at Waubunsee Park, about an hour east of Lincoln. I think this is the 28th year for the meetup! We didn’t camp there, but spent Saturday with the gang.

Buell Fogg had an excellent talk about drifting away… with some fascinating illustrative stories. Love that guy, and love hearing him talk!

After the pretty casual program, many of us went for a bit of a hike up to the top of a ridge where there we supposedly could see three states. I couldn’t make out the dotted lines delineating state borders, but the view was great!

We got to spend some time with dear folks Malcom and Sharon. Super quality people! I am both proud and honored to consider them friends!

Sad News

Nancy and Earl were good friends with my in-laws, and were in fact some of the first people we met when we moved to Denver in the mid 1980’s. They have been living outside Lincoln for the last few decades. Earl passed away a few days ago. His married daughters, Theresa and Melissa were in town. [Melissa is the one we spent so much fun time with in Fairbanks] We were privileged to visit Nancy and Melissa (as well as her daughters Noel and Lauren.)

Earl was instrumental in the building of Littleton Hospital in the Denver area. He also helped me with demographics of Denver suburbs when I was starting my first office in the area.

Arbor Day Lodge

J. Sterling Morton loved planting things, especially trees. His large estate near Nebraska City is evidence of that passion. He recommended the establishment of Arbor Day – a day to celebrate trees and promote planting new trees. The date varies, with many states celebrating on different days, but it is usually observed in Spring.

His estate is now a Nebraska State Park. His likeness stands guard, close to a Dryad, the Goddess of trees.

Behind the statues is a long, curved bench. It’s called the “Whispering Bench,” because you can sit at one end, and words you whisper can be heard by someone at the other end of this 60 some foot long bench. It really works!

The park was a great place to eat lunch (and swat at little gnats.) A nice playground kept the kids entertained.

J. Sterling Morton started by building a relatively modest four room house in 1855. He served as the Secretary of Agriculture under President Grover Cleveland in 1890. The house was added to many times, with the biggest upgrade being done by his son, Joy Morton, in 1903. That work brought the mansion to its present 52 rooms! Joy Morton is the founder of Morton “When it rains it pours” salt.

In the front room is a framed document – the deed to the property. It records a purchase price of $1.25 per acre, and it is signed by James Buchanan, then president of the United States! I can’t imagine the president sitting around signing land grants today!

The little sewing table below left is very clever. One triangular panel opens up to reveal a small storage area below. You rotate the entire tabletop to position the opening over whichever area you’d like to access. Clever!

The central staircase is a piece of art! The huge painting on the first landing shows a treaty being negotiated with local Indians, and pictured standing by are J. Stanford Morton and his wife. The event depicted happened on this property!

This bedroom shows proper mourning clothes. They were to be worn for over a year… with some lightening up allowed for the second and third years.

I was going to tell you all I’d learned about “Crazy Quilts.” There is way too much for me to describe, and I don’t want you to miss out any cool details! So I’ll post a sign about them.

In case you can’t read the above, or don’t really care to, just know they were all the rage after 1876, were very hard to make, were very expensive, and this family was crazy about them because they had several!

Bedrooms originally had chamber pots, with patterns matching the wallpaper of that particular room.

The bathroom was added later.

I guess in the 1800’s everything was a bit fancier!

One of the most fascinating rooms for me is full of printing gear. Most of it is in glass cases and doesn’t photograph well, so you’ll have to trust me on this. The large print type pieces over one door challenge you to read backward. On the wall is a type case… used to store all the needed letters to print documents. Typically, capital letters were stored in a separate case, above the regular letters. Thus, Upper Case and Lower Case letters!

How could you have a mansion without a bowling alley in the basement? This one lane alley has a little room for a pinsetter to operate. The balls are wooden, as are the pins. It doesn’t look like any pinsetter has dusted under the pins for a while…

Every good mansion needs a good carriage house, and this one certainly complies. Horses were housed in a walkout basement stable, and the carriages were on the main level.

Mr. Morton must have really liked Kimball & Co. coaches. He seems to have owned several of them. Kimball made all sorts of coaches, ranging from those below to streetcars, railroad cars, horse cars and also furniture. The carriage in the center below purports to be the last one built by Kimball, around 1887. Its price was $1800 (in the 1880’s!) but there was no demand, so Morton bought it for $450. The Stagecoach below was made by Kimball, and used by “Buffalo Bill” Cody in his “Wild West” show.

Another oddity is this huge metal Meat Tenderizer! It looks like Becky would have a hard time lifting the heavy thing, but it’s easier with Dayna helping her!

After touring the Mansion, we got to play at the Treetop Village. Arbor Day Farm has a nice shop full of tasty and fun stuff, and a museum with lots to study. But the real draw is the Treetop Village- a huge network of swinging bridges, slides, trampolines and tree houses.

I loved the movie posters reworked to fit in a tree park!

If you don’t get seasick too easily, you might get a kick out of the whole family playing in the Treetop Village. Such great fun… and we all slept really well that night!

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