Monday, August 29, 2005

Concerts at the Stephenson County Fair and at the Coffee House and then Galena

We made our annual jaunt to Freeport to attend the Stephenson County Fair and heard Leslie sing her fourth concert there--and Elijah sing his first. Although the kids did not start school until Friday, Jeannie was already at work on her grant job, and Rick was involved with teacher meetings and tennis practice. So their schedule was quite challenging all week long.

We went up on Wednesday and arrived in time to go to the house first (barely) and onto the fair for Elijah's 4 p.m. concert. He was quite good and interspersed his songs with jokes. Afterwards we walked through the art and home/hobby building, and I think Gerald and Cecelie got to see some farm machinery and animals. We went to Culvers for supper according to our tradition altho this year we dropped Les off at a gathering of her friends.

Since Jeannie and Rick were at work, on Thursday we took Leslie to the Coffee House at l0 a.m., where she was to sing for four hours. Cecelie and I stayed and listened and enjoyed fancy hot chocolate, etc., until noon while Gerald and Lige went to Farm and Fleet. They joined us there for lunch, and then we all went home until time to pick Leslie up.

Jeannie and Rick needed to take Cecelie and Elijah back to the fair Thursday night to ride the rides since that was wrist-band night. Consequently, Gerald got to drive Leslie to and from that night's social activity at the pastor's daughter's home. I got to rest and read a book!

Friday morning Les and Lige both had their first day of school--just a half day. Cecelie, who was starting first grade, had only an hour or so in the afternoon, so Jeannie took off work and took her while I took Leslie out to the beauty school at the college for manicure and hair appointment.

Leslie's hour concert was at 5 that evening, so we again attended the fair. To say we were thrilled with her singing as we had been with Elijah's is a grandparent's understatement.

Afterwards, we walked through the lamb house and saw more machinery and animals before Rick took us all out to dinner. Since Lige and Les were leaving early the next morning for a youth retreat, Jeannie wasn't wanting Les to socialize--but a couple of friends who couldn't make it to the concert showed up in their car for her to sing some of her songs for them -- and presented her with roses.

Ever since Jeannie and Rick moved to Freeport in 1995, I have wanted to go to Galena. On Saturday morning after Jeannie took the older two to church to leave for their retreat at Dixon, Gerald and I and Cecelie took off through northwestern Illinois, and we saw Jo Daviess County for the first time.

The panorama of the gently rolling hills and beautiful farms were magically picturesque. You could see for miles and everything was gorgeously green. We stopped at the wooden-staired tower and climbed to the very top (puff puff) and could see even further. The tower itself was a work of art, and Cecelie loved it.

Galena was as pretty as I imagined, and the diversity of architecture there is unbelievable. One of the earliest of Illinois towns because of the river and the lead mines, Galena had reached its height of population with 14,000 before the mines gave out and the railroads replaced the river transportation. With under 4000 population, the residents there welcome over l00,000 tourists each year including an annual Boy Scout celebration of President Grant's birthday.

We visited the beautiful Italinate home the citizens of Galena gave their hero General Ulysses S. Grant when he returned from the Civil War. Gerald said he bet they built and furnished it for $l0,000, and we were to learn from a brochure that actually it was all for $2500! Five bedrooms, lovely parlor with horsehair furniture, dining room set with the china they took to the White House, library with two huge bookcases filled with books, and kitchen and pantry and a little room off the kitchen with a bathtub! Kerosene lights, of course, and fireplaces in downstairs rooms and coal stoves in the upstairs bedrooms. A sweet little dressing room for Mrs.
Grant with a sewing machine. No servants quarters as they only had day help despite all the entertaining they must have had to do.

The library contained the statue of President Lincoln, General Grant, and Secretary of War Stanton done by sculpture John Rogers. I encouraged Cecelie to help me remember that to tell her mother who would be interested.

Julia Dent Grant was the first president's wife to be called the First Lady as all have been called since. She entertained lavishly in the White House, and their daughter Nellie was the first presidential child to be married in the White House.

We also visited the little general store next door to Grant's home and the Market House downtown where we saw more displays on Grants' life and his saddle and Mrs. Grant's tiny size 4 shoes on display.

Elihu Washbourne's home was only open on Fridays we were told. We could have spent a week in Galena and not seen everything, but we felt we and Cecelie had absorbed about all we could absorb in this lovely lovely history-laden town with more stairs going up and down the hills than you can imagine.

Taking a different route home, we crossed into the dairy land of Wisconsin and stopped for a drink at a little store where they made and sold cheeses. Gerald and I had old-fashioned bottles of root beer, but Cec chose that modern harsh blue stuff in a plastic bottle. We sampled cheeses with toothpicks and took home a goodly supply. Since we had let Cecelie choose Happy Joe's for lunch, we decided supper at McDonald's (her second choice at lunch)might make a perfect ending for her day and she agreed. The dogs Lucky and Leah were glad to see us.

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