I miss museums. I don’t know if they are open in your area but here in our part of the world they are still closed and have been for almost a year now. I used to do monthly museum visit before the pandemic. What my husband and I called our date days. My children grew up in museums. We visited so many around the city they were like second homes to us. Homeschoolers love their museums.
There is an old church up in the country, an old cowboy church is what they call it. It has been closed for many years now. No longer running as a church, it now runs as a museum. Only opened on a few special days throughout the year, it’s rare to get into this one. This visit I am sharing with you today was before the pandemic. Might be open now since here in Arizona some small towns are pretty much open full time. We are in a state that is very divided politically. The big cities in our state are mostly blue with blue mayors but the small towns and smalls cities with their red local politicians are red areas which have their own set of rules when it comes to this pandemic…so it could be open, this old cowboy church museum that is. With masks and social distancing of course. Still gotta be safe, and we all still need to live our lives. Not trying to get political here, just stating how it is right now in my state. No sides here, just speaking my truths. Probably how it is around most of our country right now, this divide, the two colors, the two views. At least this is how it is now in Arizona, which is very exhausting.
This visit I am sharing with you today was done many years ago. Before the world would become a world of masks, political unrest and divide. So weird now looking through photos from the past. We have all gotten used to faces half hidden now. Used to those silent stares of questioning eyes behind those imprisoned smiles or sneers, depending on whether or not you’re a half full or half empty sort of person on the guessing game of what expressions are hidden behind pretty floral masks, silly ones and a few scary and frightening ones with big sharp growling teeth.
“ Could they be sick?” some of those expressionless fabric faces speak through their eyes.
This old cowboy church turned museum has it’s own sad history from the past. In the graveyard behind it there are many headstones of lost lives from the Spanish flu pandemic. The Spanish flu took many lives with no one being spared. A much sinister flu since the youngest ones were not so immune to it like our newest pandemic in this 21st century.
There is something else about this area where this old church sits. It sits in a town where there was a civil war of sorts right here in the state of Arizona. It’s why our state almost didn’t become a state…too wild at one time I suppose. Two families, good friends and neighbors back in the 1880’s, would become violent and hateful enemies against each other. And all it took was some sheep and cattle. A dispute all about greed and breaking numbers 9 and 10 of the ten commandments. Two very important commandments that sometimes leads to wicked wars, even involving the whole world from one century. How many neighbors snitched and lied about each other to survive during times of war?, How many coveted what they each had instead of helping and sharing with one another?. The story of all wars starts with greed and lies that lead to chaos.
The pleasant valley war they would call it, although there was nothing really pleasant about it. History repeats itself in all kinds of situations. Neighbor would turn against neighbor. Where have we heard that before? Some people say up to 50 people would loose their lives from this neighborhood dispute. At the entrance to this small town is a large stone with the history of that war written on it and the number of lives lost. A reminder to never forget how easy it is for neighbors to turn against each other and how fast it can escalate.. I will leave out the details about that war, they are pretty gross and very violent.
My son is a very sensitive child and when we first moved into an area with this history he refused to go out at night. I never shared the history about the area when we first bought Our Little Red House to fix up. It was like my son as a child could just sense something. As soon as the sun set my son would not leave the house.
“No way, I’m not going out there.” he would say when we all headed out the door to look at stars. In the city this is a treat we do not get to enjoy. Out there in the country sky it looks amazing with thousands and thousands of tiny sparkly little gems.
My son also wanted nothing to do with the old cemetery up the road in the middle of town either, where some of those old cowboys from the past are buried from that war from long ago. I am a big history buff, remembering my favorite history teacher from my teenage years and the stories she told with such passion about Arizona. Used to be a required class credit in order to graduate but they have since changed things up with what they teach now in our government run schools. I loved hearing those stories about our history in this country and I am one of those half full kind of gals so I try to see the positive in life more then the negative…try. Going out at night to see beautiful stars everywhere was what I was thinking not that there was a creepy old cemetery in town with people who lived in a time where they had no electricity and traveled everywhere by horses. My son has a very adventures imagination.
Sometimes when I walk around the woods and the area where this Arizona war happened, I feel the peace in the wind blowing through leaves, the birds chirping everywhere, and the water trickling down streams, makes it hard to imagine such hatred had happened in those spots so many years ago. It’s hard for me to believe such hateful violence had happened there. How does that happen, where does it start, why did it start?. Best to look at the beauty and not the ugly in what was or could be if we as humans allow it to happen.
Anyway, this post is about a little country church in town not about that ugly old war. When we first bought Our Little Red House I told my husband I wanted to share the beauty of the area, not that old war from long ago. People that love old west stories love that stuff, but I rather share the beauty of country roads, apple picking, sunflowers, horses, friendly neighbors and country decor and cooking DIY’s. Half full everyone, that’s what this is…I will leave the half empties to speak about that war if they want.
The day I stopped by this museum church to take photos it wasn’t open. They were Spring cleaning the place, taking items out of storage, getting the museum ready to open for Easter I believe. Closed up from a long cold snowy Winter. The place needed a good cleaning before the public walked back through it’s doors once again. There were volunteers everywhere cleaning.
When I walked in I asked if it was okay to take some photos. I was only in town for awhile and would be heading back to the city that day. I wouldn’t be there for their opening. They said it was okay if I didn’t mind stepping around vacuum cleaners and people dusting shelves. They asked me to sign my name in the registry, so I did.
When one of the volunteers saw my name she got excited and said my name out loud to everyone standing around her. She told me they all were wondering when I would stop by since I was a member on the board and helped with the votes on the museum every year. Currious to who I was. I was a bit confused when she said this. They were all so friendly and really sweet all of a sudden when she said my name, very nice. And then I remembered. One year as a gift, a friend of mine had donated money to the museum in my name. I never knew how much the donation was for and I thought it was a very cool way to give a gift for the holidays for someone that already has everything, at least this is how I view my life. I have everything I need. My family, shelter, food, we are happy and together…what more is there that really matters. So I was given a gift that was a gift to others.
I explained to the volunteers that a friend of mine gave me a Christmas gift as a donation to their museum. They answered back that they knew this person and she spoke nicely about me. It was a nice gift I told them because it was a donation to keep history alive.
This little museum in the middle of nowhere is still part of the history here in our state, even the ugly part. We must never forget those mistakes from our past, otherwise we may repeat them. You know that quote from long ago about that. Never forget history. Right now we are living in our own. So important to start writing this down and keeping a record of what we are feeling and seeing daily with our own truths.So many lies being twisted out their to change this history even now as I write this museum post up for you all to read.
Anyway, here are those photos from my personal museum visit. We were headed back to the city so I didn’t have long to stay. Didn’t get a lot of photos but enough to share for now. Maybe I will have another day when it is open for me to explore more. Another interesting thing happened in there too. My husband in his late teens used to work for a newspaper here in Phoenix. Working for AP was his first job as a teen. There was an old newspaper in the museum and one of my husband’s photos was in it. In tiny letters at the bottom corner was his name…so cool seeing that. I forgot to take a photo of that.
Hope you all enjoyed this museum visit with me and I hope that museums all over our country start opening up soon. Did not get out for fun shopping trip this month, keeping things safe and staying home as much as possible. We go out for food and that is it. Our numbers are still pretty high out there. Remember, Love your neighbors, that’s the moral of this post…to love your neighbors.
Love thy neighbor as thyself.