This was one of those trips where I was intent on making miles and not photos. My sojourn in Florida was a little longer than anticipated, and I was supposed to pick up Curator Jessica in Louisville on May 22 so we could collaborate with Carla Jordan on some photo exhibits for the Jackson Cape County History Center and the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum.
The sun was starting to hide as I was on the downhill side of I-24 heading into Chattanooga. I had logged a little over 500 miles for the day, and needed to push on another hour or so to put me withing striking distance of Louisville the next day.
I liked the way the sunlight was glinting off the median divider and trees, but there was an 18-wheeler woofing on my tail, so I didn’t have time to do more than wave and push the button without messing with exposures or framing.
The Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center & Museum has brought back their ever-popular Christmas tree display. The museum has undergone some major renovations to make more room for genealogical research, so I was wondering how they were going to find space for all the trees I had seen in previous years.
Director Carla Jordan said they have about the same 47 give-or-take trees they’ve always had, but they’ve made more efficient use of the space available. I’ve been going to the exhibit since 2010, and I recognize some ornaments, but they are used in different ways, so don’t think just because you’ve seen it once that it’ll look the same.
If you are looking for decorating ideas before putting up your own tree, you’ll find some great ideas here. The museum is open daily 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free (and the place has the cleanest bathrooms in SE MO). The volunteer staff will make you feel right at home. This was one of my mother’s favorite places. It’s a pleasant 30-mile drive from Cape over some beautiful farm country. The exhibit will be up from now through January 15.
Niece Amy is getting married in Tulsa this weekend, so there has been a mass exodus from Florida headed to Oklahoma. It wasn’t exactly on the path, but Sons Adam and Matt, their spouses and their brood, stopped by to see Mother, who is very much on the mend.
She and I both finally got to meet the newest arrival, Finn Levi Steinhoff. You can click on the photos if you want to be exposed to excessive cuteness.
Mother, Matt, Malcolm and I got together to update the last four-generation photo we took several years ago.
It was decided that three months was too long for me to go without a haircut and beard trim. (Like my barber says, “There are two kinds of men with hair on their faces: those who have beards and those who don’t shave.” I’m pretty sure I had slipped into that second category.)
I polled my Facebook friends and got several suggestions for a local barber. My requirements: “I want an old-fashioned barber. I don’t want a stylist, I don’t want the place to smell like hair spray, and I want a REAL barber chair, not some light-weight aluminum job.” Basically, I was looking for Ed Unger, but he retired in 1983.
I eliminated the ones from Bill Hopkins that suggested PETCO and a barber who is pretty good “when he is sober.” For the record, I was very happy with Scott at the Varsity Barber Shop.
Cards keep coming in
When I mentioned that Mother loves getting mail, scores of you sent some really cool cards. This one, by Jane Paquin, 74, of Seal Beach, Cal., was one of the most unique.
Tower Rock Whirlpool
The whirlpool south of Tower Rock kept trying to get organized, but it would dissipate before it got going good. Still, it was fun for the group to guess whether a floating log would get pulled into the swirling water or if it would escape and go straight downstream.
I’ve driven the road between Cape and Wittenberg so many times that I take the hills and curves a little on the fast side. About two-thirds of the way there, Daughter-in-Law Sarah looked at Malcolm and warned, “I think we’re about to have a Dramamine moment back here.” I slowed down.
Gerard to the rescue
When we made it to the Altenburg Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum, Gerard Fiehler came to the rescue with a can of soda to calm things down. Before long, Malcolm was listening to Gerard tell him (and let him see for himself) the difference between how a harpsichord and a piano make sounds.
He liked the whirlpool, liked the museum, liked picking up railroad spikes along the train tracks, but he REALLY liked driving his great-grandmother’s riding mower around the back yard.
“Look at all the alligators”
When we went down to the riverfront, Graham looked at all the logs floating down the river and said, “Look at all the alligators!” You can tell he’s a Florida boy.
They got to splash rocks, see a towboat taking on fuel, touch the river and look at the mural on the flood wall. It’s a good thing they didn’t see this woman doing The Foolish Frolic in the floodwaters. They’d have probably tried it and ended up in New Orleans.
River walk photo gallery
Click on any photo to make it larger, then use your arrow keys to move through the gallery. In order of tallness: Adam, Carly, Graham, Elliot and (being carried), Finn.
Seelitz, in eastern Perry County, was a short-lived town near Altenburg. It was one of the seven colonies established in 1839 in the Saxon Migration.
Click on the photos to make them larger.
Not a good location
Gerard Fiehler from the Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum walked me back to where a memorial stone contains the names of some of the earlier settlers. You’ll notice that many of the dates are from the first two years of the settlement.
Seelitz, I was told, was located in a low area that it made it disease-prone. The other problem was that the the early inhabitants were mostly students and professional men poorly prepared for carving out farms and houses from wilderness.
Rev. Stephens exiled
The Rev. Martin Stephan was the leader of the movement. He and his followers, with a communal treasury of $88,000 (you can see the chest it was kept in at the museum), landed in Wittenberg with the goal of farming about 4,500 acres of land that resembled what they had left in Saxony, Germany.
Rev. Stephan, however, was accused of “voluptuous living and dictatorial conduct” and put in a boat for exile to Illinois. It is rumored that he had been tapping the till and some of the wives.
That was the start of the Missouri Synod
Despite all the difficulties, the Saxon immigration was the start of the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, which was established in 1847.