photos and article by Patrice Johnson
Banjo music and the aroma of “stollen,” German for coffeecake, filled the mid-19th century Realy Farmhouse on Saturday, Dec. 2 and 3. The Waterloo Historical Society’s “Christmas on the Farm,” always a hit during the first weekend in December, was underway to sunshine and blue skies.
Smiling families, garbed in light jackets, strolled through the 10-room house and log cabin outbuildings, each manned with friendly, pre-Civil War re-enactors. Gauging from the curious expressions on youngsters’ faces, daily existence before indoor plumbing, universal education for both boys and girls, electricity and the internet struck them as strange as life on Mars.
In an upstairs bedroom of the house, Arlene Kaiser explained how the phrase “sleep tight” originated from the need to snug rope webbing on beds cushioned and warmed with feather- or corncob-filled ticks. “How would you like to sleep on these wool sheets?” she asked and encouraged a pre-teen boy to touch an itchy woolen sampler.
Downstairs, Banjo Mike (Evans) shared a musical discussion with David Kluesner, who strummed a few chords. In the kitchen, after hoisting water from a cistern accessible through a hidden trap door, Bob Mottice showed Libby Wacker the intricacies of the home’s new cream separator.
Outside in the various log cabins, a blacksmith pumped billows and hammered a glowing orange chunk of iron into the shape of a nail. Another volunteer crafted children’s toys. Still another saw to summer kitchen chores. The log gift shop brimmed with fir swags and red-bowed wreaths.
Down the road, tours of the iconic Dewey School carried children back an time and brought the one-room school experience to life.