Saving our History
In the corner stands an ancient corner hutch. Made of pine and covered with the patina of age, I rescued this dubious treasure from a crumbling wreck of what was once a proud pioneer home.
In the hutch, a small triangular shelf holds what passes for my collection of kitchen recipes, hints and manuals. Regardless of the wide variety of small recipe collections that I insist on toting home from every 4-H display, church potluck and Firehouse feed, I faithfully return to the one and only Betty Crocker cookbook, which evokes with every meal, fond memories of my formative years.
Next to the Betty Crocker is a battered and ragged spiral photo album. Gracing it’s cover is an expectant gray kitten posing prettily in a psychadelic display of flowers, ala 1972. Cleverly disguised by this charming sight, is a collection of recipes, meticulously clipped from The Daily Interlake over the course of many years. As far as I can remember, we never sampled any of these apparently alluring concoctions. However, it is reassuring to realize that my penchant for collecting recipes I will never actually prepare, is genetic, rather than some as yet un-named psychological condition for which I’ll require numerous sessions with a professional who specializes in recovery from “an addiction to useless collections”.
These sentimental memories never fail to invoke a strong desire to preserve my past. But not just the memories themselves - the actual skills that so many earlier generations shared: Carpentry, mechanics, gardening, leather-working, animal husbandry, crafts, home-making skills such as cooking, baking, canning, preserving, and sewing. And, of course, family-building. Teaching your children their heritage, our history, fine arts and math – whatever can help build them into responsible, well-rounded and productive members of society, who won’t discard their elders’ knowledge and experiences, but collect, cherish and use those assets.
According to the National Association of Scholars (NAS) on a recent blog post, “generations of students working their way through the upper reaches of the American educational system may be bypassing the one field of study which for over 200 years had succeeded in establishing two crucial cornerstones of the American legacy: it bonded us together as a nation, instilling in all of us a common heritage, a common body of tradition, and most important of all, a common set of proclaimed values; and it equipped us to exercise the responsibilities of active and responsible citizenship which was and is our only source of leverage in limiting the powers of central government.” This statement resulted from the recent assertion by Fox News that “Of the 29 top-ranked liberal arts colleges, only the United States Air Force Academy, the United States Military Academy, and the United States Naval Academy require a survey course in American history.” The blog post goes on to assert “The bonding experience brought about by the awareness, appreciation and pride that are the positive byproducts of comprehending the implications of American history in all its dimensions is invaluable.
History, learned and remembered through the skills, knowledge and community - THAT is what a western girl is all about. Not relying on others to solve problems, but wanting to learn as many skills as she can to solve any issues herself. Adding to that, she seeks out and then shares, knowledge in its many forms: history, how-to & why; When and what’s best; Who did what… And, she recognized the value of diversity – it’s essentialness to a strong and interesting community.
So, welcome to the site that we hope will be a repository for all things western, historical and cherished. Please share your knowledge, questions and comments – we can all learn from each other and work together to strengthen and preserve our national culture and heritage.