Faron Wahl, Manager
A family from Omaha was touring the Village this past week, taking in each building with thought and conversation. While I like to ensure folks can meander across our grounds generally without interruption, friendly greetings here and there from staff are always in order. Sometimes this brief exchange subsequently unfolds into worthy perspective.
I asked the late grade school-aged girl what her favorite part had been up to that point. She pondered her response a bit, then replied that she really enjoyed the hotels. We chatted about what it must have been like to rent such a tiny, humble room on the upper floor during hot weather with no air conditioning. This got her to thinking even more.
At that point Mom jumped in and augmented the discussion, wondering aloud how dreaded and uncomfortable dental visits must have been 100 years ago, given the utilitarian look of our dentist’s office tools. It was agreed that much of today’s stigma of the dental chair likely spawned from earlier days’ experiences, namely a raw lack of effective numbing agents.
In frankness, virtually everything offered here at the Village should make one thankful for the deep comforts we take for granted in nearly every avenue of our lives. Air conditioning alone seems a bare necessity, but these hotels, churches, and the railroad went about their business regardless how hot the day was. Even in more modern times, I remember sitting in our pre-air conditioned Opera House 35 or so years ago watching the Prairie Repertory Theater, thoroughly enjoying the show but wondering if intermission would ever arrive so we could even briefly step out of the stifling stillness and heat. It certainly wasn’t any different when that building entertained in Oldham back in the early 20th century.
It’s great fun annually to take in the binding, bundle hauling, and threshing on which we were founded, but actually doing it for several weeks at farm after farm, with no protection from the heat, chaff, or dust, was a bit of a different story. I know my own family, back when they were threshing like everyone else, certainly didn’t look upon the whole activity as though it would one day represent an exposition for selling admission, holding parades, and folks pulling up lawn chairs. And having spent many hours in a high-end, late model combine over the past couple of years, I know the volumes, comforts and conveniences offered in today’s equipment are incredibly beyond what anyone might have conceived back in the true threshing days.
That Omaha family and their contemplative tour gets to the core reason for our existence – preserving the rural pioneer history of South Dakota. There is deep value in absorbing how things were, overlaying them mentally on how things are, and understanding with admiration and thankfulness the difference. We offer this vital opportunity to discover, consider, and be thankful every day of our season. It’s worth your while, and mine, to take a look and piece together how every one of us got here.
Somehow having arrived in August already, the 23rd annual Madison Car Show is upon us! Come on out this Sunday to enjoy 11 classes of vehicles, all displayed in the quaint setting of an old time main street. Gates open at 8:30; admission is $6.00 for adults, $2.00 for ages 6-12, or a punch on your season pass. We’ll also offer carousel rides, and our train will make a run that afternoon. You can still register your vehicle for the show – $10 in advance or $15.00 that day, either of which includes two admission passes. Additional information is available at prairievillage.org/madison-car-show.