Thursday, September 10, 2015

Home again, home again

We made it back home this afternoon, having taken a different route than the one we took north. We saw wildlife -- deer crossing the road in front of us, wild turkeys and poults, sand hill cranes flying overhead and one eagle swooping down to grab prey in a field as we drove by. There were spots of color on some of the trees, although peak foliage season is still a month away.

We also went by some points of interest. Reed School in Neilsville is the State Historical Society's tribute to the one-room schoolhouse era. Before 1960 most rural Wisconsin kids were educated in one-room schools, one of which was just down the road from where we now live. Reed School, built in 1915, served as a one-room country school through 1951. It provided a first- through eighth-grade education with only one teacher. There were more than 6,000 such schools in rural Wisconsin. I think of one-room schools as a relic of the nineteenth century, not something still running into my own lifetime.

Reed School in 1917

and today

At the other end of the cultural spectrum in some ways, I suppose, is the Wisconsin Concrete Park. According to Wikipedia
The Wisconsin Concrete Park is a sculpture park located along Wisconsin Highway 13 in the town of Worcester, Wisconsin. The park includes over 200 folk art sculptures built with concrete and decorated with glass bottles and other found objects. Fred Smith, who ran the Rock Garden Tavern on the property, began building the sculptures in 1948 after retiring from his career as a lumberjack. Smith, who lacked any formal artistic education, initially built two-dimensional bas relief plaques and eventually transitioned to constructing his larger sculptures. Smith continued building sculptures until 1964, when a stroke forced him to stop working. Smith claimed that the sculptures "came to [him] naturally" and that "nobody knows why I made these sculptures, even me."
The sculptures primarily feature people engaging in everyday activities, such as farming, watching workers, and drinking beer. Animals are also frequently depicted, both in the wild and helping with farm work. One sculpture, the last Smith completed before his stroke, features a team of Clydesdales pulling a Budweiser wagon. Historic and legendary figures such as Ben-Hur, Paul Bunyan, and Abraham Lincoln are also depicted.
After Smith's death in 1976, a storm damaged over 70% of the figures. The Kohler Foundation rehabilitated the park and donated it to Price County, and the land is now a county park. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places on October 28, 2005.

The overall effect of the place is downright claustrophobic, and I wonder what Stephen King could do with it as a setting. I certainly have no idea why he made the sculptures, but the presence of drinking motifs does give me an idea. The manes on the Clydesdales, if you cannot tell, are made from beer bottles stuck into the concrete. I don't know if Mr. Smith or his customers were the ones who first downed the brew in fine Wisconsin manner.

As much as we enjoyed our visit to Lake Superior, it is good to be back to something like normal.


glen said...

Welcome home!!!! Sounds like a fun trip!

Mitchell is Moving said...

What a fun-looking drive!