The smell of woodsmoke and the twang of banjo music always takes me back to a different time – both historically and in my own life.

The smell of woodsmoke and the twang of banjo music always takes me back to a different time – both historically and in my own life.

On Saturday I attended Prairie Day at the George Washington Carver National Monument. This year had more stuff to do and see than I think I have ever witnessed at the event before, with lots of hands-on demonstrations in all things mid-1800s. I won’t list them off here, but there was a LOT going on.

While I was there to cover it for the newspaper, I soon realized just how much I was enjoying myself. I had forgotten how good that event, and that place, makes me feel. My mom has made lye soap pretty much every year at Prairie Day since I was a youngster, and I was there with her in the early days, as was my sister. Later on, our little brother took our place as assistant. There are lots of good childhood memories from Prairie Days of years past that, until Saturday, I had not recalled for a long time.
Also, I cannot smell woodsmoke off a cookfire without instantly feeling deeply nostalgic, almost melancholic, as an instant slideshow of my teenage years as a Civil War reenactor flashes through my brain. It has been a long time since I’ve been actively involved in that. I miss it and all the old faces of people I cared about, and who cared about me I believe. Many of them have also moved on to other things and a few have even left this world. I know, just a minute ago I said I felt good, didn’t I? Well, I do. It’s just that sometimes with good memories comes a sense of loss over bygone days.

Anyway, enough about all that. Thanks for letting me share, though.

If you had the chance to attend Prairie Day on Saturday you’ll be happy to know that the Newton County Historical Society is again holding our own miniature replica of that event with History Alley on Oct. 6. I haven’t been involved in organizing the event in a couple of years, but from what I know of it there will be lots of the same sort of stuff to see, such as blacksmithing and candlemaking, and much of the rest.
Which brings me to a special request. If you or someone you know likes to give historic demonstrations in anything related to 1800s living – soap making, blackpowder weapons, etc. — we would be most happy to have you at History Alley from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Oct. 6. In fact, we could sure use you. Even if we already have a particular station signed up to be there, there is nothing wrong with having more. Or maybe there is something else you do that we don’t already have planned. At any rate, please call the Newton County Museum at 451-4940 if you would like to volunteer to do something that day.

Prior to that, another historical society event is coming up one week from today on Sunday, Sept. 16. A free heirloom embroidery workshop will be held at 4 p.m. in our one-room schoolhouse at the Newton County Historical Park, 121 N. Washington, one block north of the Neosho Square. Again, I’m not the guy organizing this one, but if you’re interested in learning about some simple embroidery stitches to create your own family heirloom, and make a sampler to take home, then you will want to attend. All materials will be provided. Some vintage items will also be on exhibit to maybe give you an idea of what to go off of. If you have any questions, just call the number above.

Have a pleasant Sunday.

Wes Franklin serves on the board of directors of the Newton County Historical Society. He is also a staff writer for the Neosho Daily News. He can be reached at 658-8443. Write to him at NCHS, Attn: Wes Franklin, P.O. Box 675, Neosho, Mo. 64850