Perry County People

SS Robert Fiehler layoutI decided to completely revise my Last Generation presentation for the Immigration Conference at the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum at the last minute, and PowerPoint isn’t playing nicely, so this may be a long night / morning.

Here’s a photo gallery of some of the folks I’ve photographed and interviewed who spoke German as their primary language when they were children.

Last Generation Sneak Peek

Edgar Dreyer - 11-13-2013I mentioned my Last Generation project on March 26. I’ve been working like crazy to get a video presentation done so I can talk with a SEMO historical preservation about shooting regional history (or something like that. I usually don’t know what I’m going to talk about until I get in front of a group).

I finally got it whipped into passable shape this afternoon. Some of the transitions between clips are a little rougher than what I like, but I think the stories Dorothy, Edgar and Myrtle are more important than the technical stuff.

Shooting video is a whole different ballgame than shooting stills, even if you have been shooting picture stories for years. For one thing, the audio is as important, if not MORE important than the images. The best segment of the three was with Edgar Dryer (shown above when he was 8 or 10). He was 78 last fall when I photographed him. I couldn’t have asked for better natural lighting. He was also the first person I used a wireless mike on. That made a world of difference.

The biggest challenge was getting all the audio levels to match when you are shooting different subjects in different places. Watching tutorials and reading the manuals to figure out how to do it was mega-nap-inducing. I got the levels within acceptable levels, but I’m sure someone who knows what he or she is doing could have saved me hours of work.

The Last Generation video

I hope you enjoy the video. I have at least another dozen Perry County folks to work on before the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society’s Third Biennial Immigration History Conference in Altenburg October 23-25.

By the way, if you want to enlarge the video, hover your mouse over the bottom right-hand side of the vido screen. You’ll see a square box that says Full Screen. That will make the video fill your monitor screen. Press ESC to get it back to normal size.

The Last Generation

Myrtle (Schilling) Kuehnert in Trinity Lutheran Church 11-12-2013I’ve been working on The Last Generation off and on for about two years. It tells the story of the last generation of the original East Perry County pioneer families who spoke German as their primary language. I’ve had an opportunity to meet interesting men and women who grew up in an era before electricity; when little girls died of “winter fever” and telephones were just arriving.

The challenge has been to edit the videos and recordings down to a workable length. I have more material than I can use, and I was planning on interviewing some more people when I go back to SE Missouri next week. It’s been a race against the clock. Several of my subjects have died since the project started. Here are three of my friends.

Myrtle Schilling Kuehnert

Myrtle Schilling Kuehnert, above, met her future husband at Altenburg’s Trinity Lutheran Church when she was 13. She said he would have to ask her father for permission to ask her out after an evening church service. Her father told him she had to be back home by midnight because she had to help him milk cows at 4:30 a..m. She said they went uptown to a tavern where they played the jukebox and each drank a beer.

“AT 13!?!?” I exclaimed.

“Well, there weren’t any restrictions at that time.”

She wrote “Ernie” close to a thousand letters while he was serving as a turret gunner in the Pacific during World War II. She has all his letters, but he had to, “with a heavy heart,” throw her letters overboard when the ship had be be lightened during a storm.

Edgar Dreyer walked 4 miles to school

Edgar Dreyer - 11-13-2013“Uphill each way. In the snow,” he said.

Edgar Dryer is a great and funny storyteller, but he grows solemn when he talks about his sister, Irene, who died when she was 13 years old, on his 4th birthday. He still remembers her coffin being brought into the living room or “die gute Stube,” and the strain it placed on his family. “She died of ‘winter fever.’ It’s pneumonia these days.”

He went to school until the tenth grade, then his father said, “Son, now you have to go to work.”

Electricity was a big thing

Dorothy Weinhold 11-12-2013Dorothy Weinhold – and several of the other subjects – said that electricity was the biggest change they remember in their lifetimes. Her mother actually bought an electric iron before the house was wired for power because she was tired of firing up the wood stove to heat the old flatiron.

After she said their bathroom was outdoors, I asked, “Sears and Roebuck catalog or corncobs?”

She laughed and said, “I remember the Sears and Roebuck catalog.” Pausing, she added, “but  I’ve heard about the corncobs.”

Presentation and exhibit in the fall

I’ll show the videos and exhibit prints from the project at the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society’s Third Biennial Immigration History Conference in Altenburg October 23-25.

 

 

 

Altenburg Christmas Trees

Altenburg Museum Dressing for Christmas TreeI was busy shooting photos for my Last Generation project in Perry County, so I didn’t have much time to hang around the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum while they were putting up this year’s Christmas Tree Exhibit. In fact, the only shot I could find was of Dorothy Weinhold perched on a ladder putting the finishing touches on her tree.

[Drat! I just discovered that the Dorothy photo is on a harddrive buried in the back of the van. Sorry, Dorothy, I don’t have any way to get to it. I’ll have to sub a photo from an earlier year.]

Director Carla Jordan posted on the Heritage Center’s website, “The museum will be open every day from 10am-4pm this season (except Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.)  We will be open until 8pm every Thursday evening in December, and until 9pm on Dec. 19th & 20th for the Christmas Country Church Tour. Admission is always free.”

Warren Schmidt Video

Fortunately, Warren Schmidt my favorite right-wing curmudgeon and executive board president, transformed a bunch of still photos into an impressive video so you can sample the flavor of the exhibit.

Past exhibits

Travel update

OU War Memorial 11-27-2013If you saw Wednesday’s Athens Winter Storm Video, you might figure out why I decided to stay another day in Ohio. The West Virginia DOT website showed most of the route through the mountains as clear, but there were a few patches that were marked as slush and a couple that said “severe.”

Iffy road conditions and a gazillion cars heading for grandma’s and already late didn’t sound like fun. I’d rather drive when the roads are clear and everybody is holed up with football, parades and turkey.

I slept late, then went up to the library to research the protest movement in the late 60s and early 70s for an exhibit I’m doing in the spring. There’s a pretty good chance I’ve spent more time in the OU library in the past two days than I ever did when I was a student.

I was scurrying to get back to my car before the parking meter ran out when I spotted the iconic War Memorial statue warming his back in the last rays of the afternoon sun. He must have needed it: there’s still a patch of snow on his shoulder.

I should be Florida-bound Thursday. I hope there will be some turkey left when I pull into the driveway.

Copyright © Ken Steinhoff. All rights reserved.