While waiting for Santa to arrive…by Firetruck, no less…with my Sister and great-nephew (her grandson), I took a good look around at the Grange Building. Man! They don’t build ’em like this anymore. The exterior is flanked by tower-type corners, supported by Ionic-style columns.
This place is grand. On the inside, tall wood ceilings are shored up by the same Ionic columns of the outside design. There are two levels, with heavy oak railings and a staircase, polished by care and years of use. If they could talk, the walls would tell of the rural life of the people of southern Wisconsin. These folk would buy groceries, bank, shop for clothing, and exchange news about weather, crops, and cows in this place for over a hundred years.
Granges were formed after the Civil War as social organizations to encourage families to come together “to promote the economic and political well-being of the community and agriculture,” according to Wikipedia. The Grange is still in existence, and is the oldest American agricultural advocacy group, which actively lobbies state and national legislatures for rural interests. The Grange building in Evansville, Wisconsin was finished in 1903, though The Grange itself was organized in the area in 1872. Today, it is on the National Register of Historic Buildings, and is used as a Mall, with a variety of stores and local businesses, and this morning it was the gathering place for children to talk with Santa.
For me, it was a Laura Ingalls moment. I couldn’t take my eyes off the structure, itself, the old enlarged and framed pictures that showed the importance of the place to the community, and the lifestyle that once existed. And then Santa and the Mrs. arrived, and I was brought back to the present
No, they don’t make ’em like they used to…buildings or people. Except Santa. He’s the same.