Monday, October 15, 2012

Shaker Museum

 This place was gorgeous.  Not nearly enough time to see it all.  The Shakers were such innovative, enlightened people in so many ways.  They had women in positions of power since the 1700's which is quite shocking.  I sort of thought they lived like the Amish, very anti-technology, but the guide told us they were obsessed with technology, and finding the best way to do things... they invented the washing machine, the straight broom, and many other little gadgets.  They were actually highly enterprising and well loved by whatever community they settled in, due to their generosity and peaceful nature.  They knit those letter sweaters that colleges used, among lots of other surprising exports.  Apparently that whole chastity thing put a damper on their continued success, since they could only grow in number by converting people.  A new Shaker would be completely provided for, but upon entering, was required to give up all his or her worldly possessions.  They rotated the work in the village so nobody had to cook, clean, knit or harvest all the time, and they taught everyone a trade of their choice.  There was a no-shun policy which meant they never gave anyone a hard time for leaving or joining.  They opened their doors to orphans and took very good care of them.  This particular village had Shakers still residing in it until 1991, and is such an amazing example of simplicity and ingenuity.  Once several thousand acres, it now has only 700, most being sold off to pay taxes.

 Every drawer, every basket, every shelf had a letter and number label.  Shakers were highly organized and had a place for everything.  All neat and tidy.  My kids could use a bit of Shaker in them, me thinks.
 The schoolhouse was cozy and bright and you could tell how important a good education was to these people.

 Broom making shed.
 This creeped me out somewhat.  It's an 'Adult Cradle' in the infirmary.  I don't know why, but it just gave me the shivers.  I'm sure it was probably a very comforting thing, but still...
 They sold New England baked beans, and also invented some sort of drink called Sarsparilla (not Sasparilla), that helped slow down the sale of rum at the time.
 Every room has pegs so the furniture can be hung and the floors easily cleaned.  The place smelled fresh, like soap and wood, no trace of that musty smell you normally find in older buildings

This museum is huge, spanning dozens of buildings, and time was short on this trip.  I'll have to go back again next summer and see the million things I missed.  Anyone want to join me?

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