It was a cold bleak morning as we set out on a time travel adventure. We headed to a settlement called Stepback – a Victorian village was open to the public to celebrate Christmas old style.
On 200 acres, a man with a vision has created a historic settlement. Roger Pierce has a general store, a schoolhouse, a church, and many farm sheds and buildings. Often the acreage is quiet, sometimes populated by school groups or scouts who have made plans to visit for a day. But yesterday was its annual opening to the public for Christmas.
Family members, friends, and local community members dressed in period clothing were on hand to educate and entertain. There was a corn sheller operating, grinding corn using energy from the waterwheel. A schoolmarm was on hand to answer questions and lead children in the construction of paper chains to decorate the tree. In the church, live piano music provided the perfect backdrop of Christmas carols and hymns.
Oh, and there were women, who for this day, donned their Victorian best dresses to pose as floozies. They layered the clothing to ward off the cold, fortified themselves with a bit of antifreeze (medicinal, they said). As they raised a toast, I heard “May we be floozed the rest of our lives!”
While walking about, we ran into old friends and made new friends. In a picturesque setting, we were enchanted with simple decorations of the past. As the day progressed, the sun came out from behind the clouds, and more people came out, too.
The people of this community recognize this treasure and come to show their appreciation. The owner was a local businessman with a love of history. After he retired, he began to create this haven. In some cases, he found old buildings and dismantled them and rebuilt them on his property. Other buildings are made from trees growing on his property. Likewise, the furniture and contents of the buildings are assembled from a wide range of sources. All of it comes together in a bucolic settlement which serves to trigger memories in older folks and educate the young.
Mr. Pierce charges no admission at Christmas or any other time. Those who choose to make a donation know that it will be used to buy toys for children whose Christmas would be less abundant without it.
And, did I say that “Mayor Pierce” wears overalls? Well, of course he does. Yesterday, many of the men working there, and some of the visitors, were wearing overalls. Yes, I got lots of photos. Yes, there will be some art quilts depicting this place!