Saturday, December 6, 2014

Halloween 2014

Each year we look forward to seeing everyone (and eating a lot of candy).  Our friends, Dan & Rose Fitzhugh, help us have a good time each year and others join us when they can.  Rose & Dan have done so much for Shelbina's Mansion and this year was no exception.  They provided the pumpkins, delicious food, and some of their family to share the festivities.
Rose & Family
 As sometimes happens, my camera started to fail and we missed getting photos of so many of our great visitors.  Hope they return next year to give me another try!
Just the beginning!
Friends from High School

The Benjamin Mansion has had a long history of "SPIRITS", but few  people realize that the spirits only visit once a year!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

It's a long story....

Work on the mansion goes fast at times, but a lot of ideas are slower in developing.   A friend, Jack Klotz, is very interesting and has nice antiques in his home.  One day he was telling me that he had driven to the east coast for a large piece and safely brought it to his house.  Just getting it into his house looked daunting to me, but it opened my mind to the concept that travel over 1,000 miles is a "Possible" task!  This lesson did not prove fruitful immediately, but my search for a cook stove, refrigerator, and oven turned up my target appliances in south Texas!  Without Jack's spirit, I probably would not have considered the purchase.  After a lot of negotiation, the owner and I agreed upon a price.  Now, to make the trip, I rent a trailer, and move these items.  The stove weighed over 450 lbs by itself!  Upon meeting Ali and Mike we found many things in common.  They are a military family as was I with the name "Mike".  Their oldest was born in Germany as was Monika  and they have a son named Niklas, as do we!  More than just a stove in common.
Brother, Ali, and Mike proved strong, friendly, and nice
The trip down went well and I recruited the help of daughter Monika and her amigo Jeff in Dallas.  They were strong and resourceful in the packing.
Monika & Jeff were tremendous
The trip back started interestingly as the trailer is clearly marked at a 55 miles per hour limit and NO ONE in Texas goes 55.  It got even more crazy as we reached Dallas due to the fact that the Texas State Fair was in session on our approach to Dallas.   For a small town fellow, this was more than exciting.  We made it to their house in the North Dallas area and took a well deserved break.  At 2:15 AM I awoke and sensed a storm moving into the area and decided to depart for Shelbina early.  This early departure allowed me to miss most of the storm by fleeing to Oklahoma.  You know, they drive just like Texans and everyone was flying past me again. 
 The 900 mile journey home went well and the storm never caught me.  I constantly drove with one eye forward and the other eye on the rear view mirrors.
Now, the last few feet had to be solved and once again friends came to the rescue.  Asking Buddy Ratliff of Brown's Furniture got me a professional mover and his faithful sidekick Tonto from Brown's.  Then Shelbina Lumber sent help and the big guns came from Center Street Auto.
Here is all the help we needed
I had several good plans for getting the appliances into the house with rollers and plates, but these guys just picked up everything and carried it into the house!  So much for plans.  Moral of the story is "friends are the most important ingredient in success".  Thanks everyone.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fall activity in the yard

The flowers are such a joy each Spring and Summer, but in the Fall we must do a little work.  Marilyn and I gathered seeds from the day lilies and spread them along the end of each row.  We hope to slowly extend the lines of flowers.  Next, we take the gas powered hedge trimmer and cut the foliage close to the ground and rake up the leaves.  It is really exhausting to bend so far over to cut the leaves.  Chase Moellering helped this year and he is a hard working 7 year old.  The Cali Lilies need to be dug up and the bulbs allowed to dry a bit before storing in the basement for the winter.  Finally, it is time to trim all the bushes and privet hedges.  I hate to look at straggly looking bushes all winter.  Hope not too many limbs fall out of the trees!  The old soft maples provide shade, but they are at an age to break easily and every high wind brings down something.  Better get to work now.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Judge Crist and the Gang of 64!

The Benjamin House has so many joys.  Judge Crist was able to join us and had a great time meeting people from his past.  It is always nice to share memories and stories, but Judge Crist was also the recipient of at least 50 hugs!  Hubba, hubba.....

Dorothy Poore says goodby to friends

Reflecting on a good day with friends.


Monday, September 29, 2014

Shelbina Class of "1964"

What a fun group!  Dorothy Poore helped arrange a visit to the Benjamin House for  her class on their 50th anniversary.
The Class of 64 arrive
And Mary "the teacher" gets them organized

    WHAT A CLASS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Beginning of the Shelbina Mansion Restoration Fund

We were expecting the class of "64" at noon on a beautiful fall day.  Jo Kampschmidt had called and said that there were two men from Chicago who would like to visit the house if possible.  We agreed to meet in the morning before class arrival and the 27th of September became a very special day.  John Byrd was from Shelbina and had thought of purchasing the Benjamin House in 1994 when the Crists had it for sale.  It was great to talk and tour the home with John and Jack.  People who know the home and early owners are always a treat.  We spoke of the progress and future projects that included rebuilding the carriage house or  the" three hole" brick outhouse.  Imagine our surprise when John made a donation to start the funding for these projects! Like so many things, getting started is the hard part.    Thanks John!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Early lives in Benjamin House

The objects were part of the lives that took place in the Benjamin House.  So many questions come to mind.  Why is the whiskey bottle so much bigger than a medicine bottle?  Why does the neck of the whiskey bottle lean to the side (did the glass maker taste the contents before making the bottle)?   Did the dark bottle contain Ladanum?  What was in the tiny bottle?  And the doll head must have belonged to a young woman of one of the families.  After being buried for over 100 years, the color of the paint is still vivid.  Can you feel anyone?  Will any of these items send us a message?

We cherish them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Looks like a strawberry, but I don't think so..

In the backyard of the Benjamin House we have strawberry plants that make a nice ground cover under the privet hedge.  Birds beat us to most of the strawberries, but we enjoy them.  Once in awhile we find the pictured strawberry look alike.  They are smaller than a dime, but pretty.  Also, they always seem to be alone.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Historic Hannibal Group

Hannibal has a group that seeks to promote old architecture in the Hannibal area.  By meeting in the old homes and business of the area, they share ideas for restoration.  This support has helped new people appreciate the value of older buildings and provide some experienced help with projects.  Though located in Hannibal, they  also enjoy and encourage members from Quincy, Palmyra, and yes, now Shelbina.  The meeting in Shelbina was the largest attendance of the year even though it meant an eighty mile round trip drive.  The Benjamin House has a reputation and all enjoyed their tour.  Ideas were shared with possible ways to finish some of the projects.  President Jack Klotz offered to help locate old foundations and buried artifacts.  His offer was successful as noted in another post.  It is our hope to draw people to Shelbina and appreciate points of interest in the town.  Everyone also had curiosity about the Jewett house located just north of the Benjamin House.  It has a special draw.

Why do you like Chocolate?

Some of the best people in your life are like chocolate.  You just "like them" and it does not take science to tell you that you want them around.  When times get difficult or tedious, you appreciate them even more.  This July is winding down with great weather and a visit from daughter Monika.  Together we make our trip to see Betty Lou and Robert Crist at their kitchen table.  Their 35 years in the Benjamin House gives them great insight into the issues that we now face with the restoration and needed support of the house.  Laughter and stories flow around the table as we relate our adventures.  Bats, bills, and love are common topics.

Molly Brown and so much more....

We had a great time with Molly Brown at the Benjamin House.  Portrayed by historian and author Lisa Marks, we were able to learn so much more about this lady from the same era that created John Forbes Benjamin.  It was interesting to meet parents and grandparents who brought young people to "Tea with Molly Brown".  The setting was excellent for those who wanted to learn of life and the possibilities in the 1870's.  In attendance were two of Shelbina's historians, Kathleen Wilham and Jo Kampschmidt.

Of course a "Maid" helped create the proper setting

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Who dropped the SPITTOON?

It is hard to imagine finding so much evidence of the lives that inhabited the Benjamin House in the 1800's. A wonderful friend, Jack Klotz, offered to explore our back yard for artifacts and he was successful!  If only these items could tell us how they served the family that owned them.  Jack is holding my favorite, a whiskey bottle with a crooked spout!  Judge Crist assured me that the bottle was not his!  There was also a fancy spittoon that caught my eye.  
We will always be indebted to Jack for all the hard, dirty work that he did in the heat of 2014.  His tools and experience helped him locate the cache.  From there, it was work, work, work.  He has a great collection of bottles in his Queen Ann house and donated his find to the mansion.   A side note is that the three Moellering boys started an excavation in their back yard after seeing Jack's success.  The Benjamin House may have spawned an archaeologist!  Nope, there was no Gold found.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mimosa problems

Our trip to Starks Nursery went well and we were excited about our pair of Mimosa trees for the front yard.  We looked forward to them gracing the south side of the yard, but they did not survive.  Our good friend, Roy Ratliff, had two more young mimosa trees in his yard and donated them to the Benjamin House.  He even planted them, but they too expired.  Guess it was not meant to be.

From the Bees and all who came before 2014

  Sometimes we think that they will always return, but maybe like "Snowflakes" they are all just a little different.  So, we enjoy each July with the colors that our bees help create.   Knowing all the while, they will melt.

Cherish the flowers and the bees that help them become unique each year.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bees, thousands of bees love the Mansion

I was surprised to see this swarm of Honey Bees that had collected above the 2nd story window on the northeast side of the Mansion.   I immediately called a wonderful friend, Clayton Armstrong, that is a bee keeper among many other skills.  He immediately drove over from Paris and advised that the colony was building combs, but would not survive the winter in that exposed location.  We both care about the future of wild honey bees and Clayton volunteered to collect the bees with the help of his daughter Julie Wood.   He  went home to collect his custom built bee vacuum and enlist the help of his daughter.  Julie, being the more nimble, put on the protective clothing and climbed out onto the window sill.  It was amazing to see her carefully vacuum the thousands of bee into the special cage.  The bees remained somewhat docile, but some would explore the keeper's mask that Julie wore.  It had to make her nervous!  No one likes to be stung.  With father coaching, they managed to collect most of the bees and transport them to a hive on the Armstrong farm.  With this plan, Clayton could monitor the bees and later divide the colony and move half the bees back to the grounds of the Benjamin House in a hive that would allow them to survive the winter.