Sunday, October 01, 2017

Naming the Bill Marner Blacksmith Shop

The morning was perfect, Saturday, as young and older gathered on the Lucas County Historical Society Museum campus for our annual harvest festival, highlighted this year by a naming ceremony for what now is the Bill Marner Blacksmith Shop.

As we gathered under the big oak tree in front of the blacksmith shop for the ceremony, I couldn't help remembering Bill's major encounter quite a few years ago with that tree. 

By the time I began to spend a good deal of time at the museum, the tree had grown up unbalanced with big limbs that practically swept the ground in places where they shouldn't. Bill --- longtime board member and president of the historical society --- had presided over a number of board meetings during which discussion turned to what should be done. Quite a bit of fussbudgetry was involved.

Bill had lots of patience, but sometimes it ran out. Beyond his family, a vintage tractor with scoop attached was among his favorite things. So one day I drove up and looked down across the patio toward the tree and there was Bill, tractor maneuvered under the tree, scoop raised and himself balanced in the scoop --- trimming it. We have Bill, aided by other board members and volunteers, to thank for countless improvements at the museum --- including the current shape of the mighty oak.

The blacksmith shop was among the last major campus projects in which Bill had a major role both as leader and laborer, so when we got to talking after his death during 2015 about how best to memorialize him, naming the shop in his honor just seemed natural.

Members of Bill's family present on Saturday morning for the ceremony included (top, first row from left) son Dan of Crowley, Texas; wife, Carol; daughter Beth, of Iowa City; and sister, Carolyn Kacena, of Burlington. I failed to get the names of everyone in the back row, but two are grandsons, one (Randy Yeates) his son-in-law and the fourth, his niece.

Here's Carol, cutting the ribbon.

And here's the memorial plaque, which fairly well explains how we felt about Bill and why the shop was named in his honor.

This is a more general view of the shop, taken as the crowd was just beginning to gather for the naming ceremony.

Elsewhere on Campus, the youngsters seemed to be having the a good time with the farm animals that had been brought to the campus for the morning.

A goat.

A calf.

And a pony, among them.

There was face-painting, too.

Boy Scouts were on hand to raise he flag on the Bicentennial Flag Pole and help out in other ways.

It was a great morning. We judge the success of this fall event, in part, by the amount of coffee cake left over when it's done. There were no crumbs to take home this year.

Jerry Book, who also had a hand in development of the blacksmith project and its building, was present to provide a smithing demonstration before and after the naming ceremony.

And thanks to Bob Ulrich, board member and friend of Bill, who with help from Rex Johnson not only mounted the signs but also figured out ways to unveil them gracefully.

And to Jim Secor, who organized the display of vintage tractors; Kathleen, Lucinda, Helen, Ann and others who organized the food; and to many others.

After most of the guests had departed, about 30 of us --- including the Marners --- gathered in the Pioneer Barn for an appreciation luncheon for our volunteers as the regular summer season nears an end.

We'll be open regular hours --- 1-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday --- this week so that folks in town for Homecoming will be able to visit, then will curtail hours until May 1, 2018. That doesn't mean that the museum is closed --- we'll be glad to show anyone around; just give the office a call.

No comments: