Sunday, December 30, 2018

Beautiful Places

When I was looking for someplace to stop between San Antonio and Houston, I found Schulenburg, a small town right off I-10. I think what attracted me to it was a mention of the painted churches in the area. Am I ever glad we toured them yesterday. Such beautiful places, art done to honor the God the people have worshiped here for over 150 years!

Only a short drive from the RV park brought us to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in High Hill. German and Czech immigrants fleeing the Austrian Empire celebrated the religious freedom they found in Texas by building churches with painted interiors designed after European cathedrals.

The ceiling painting was one of the first thing that caught my eye.

The sanctuary is a contrast of light and dark.

The sounding board above the pulpit and the pulpit are distinct in each church.

Next, we visited St. John the Baptist in Ammansville.

There is a totally different feel here.

The white ribs in the ceiling highlight the curves.

Look at the detailed painting and stencil work here.

At Dubina we found St. Cyril and St. Methodius, another stunning worship facility.

Notice the ivy leaves outlining the sanctuary.

Again, the detail in the painting is amazing.

Each of the churches had detailed images of the Stations of the Cross.  Here are 3 stations in the Dubina church.

St. Mary's Church of the Assumption in Praha was the last inspirational painted church we saw.

This is the pulpit and sounding board to project the pastor's voice.

Look at the painting of the Last Supper on the high altar.

Angels hover above the altar.

Friday, December 28, 2018

German History in Texas

Over our years of traveling in Texas, we knew there were many German immigrants who settled here in the mid- to late-1800s. We are staying in Schulenburg and today visited their history museum. Between 1844 and 1847 thousands of Germans immigrated to Texas, escaping the Austro-Hungarian Empire. It was the largest colonization in Texas history. Many of them settled around Schulenburg. The local history museum provides an excellent description of the history of this area. It focuses on death, early pioneers, military, merchants, religion and the fire department, as well as other subjects.

In the section on death in the museum told about the families that have owned and operated the local funeral home as well as how customs around death vary from culture to culture. John grew up in a funeral home and we owned it for about 9 years. But we still learned something. At least in this area, a group of women were flower bearers, carrying the flowers displayed at the funeral to the cemetery where burial occurred. Choosing those women was as important for a family as choosing the men who served as pallbearers. All were selected from among friends and associates of the person who died. We had never heard of this custom.

The section on religion covered the establishment of churches in the community.

The volunteer fire department in Schulenburg was formed in 1873. This fire "truck" had a human- powered pump to spray water on a fire. It was used in addition to bucket brigades. I wonder how many fires they were able to extinguish.

Of course, merchants were among the early settlers in the town. Those businesses were what attracted other people to settle nearby and served the needs of the population. Just look at the prices seen on this display. The museum docent knew they were real signs from the dry goods merchant in town but she didn't know what year they were from. The prices are certainly not what we see today.

These are costumes belonging to some of the German/Czech settlers around Schulenburg.

In the 1920s the leaders in Schulenburg convinced the Carnation Milk Company to build their first milk processing plant in Schulenburg. This blanket was worn by a dairy cow that came by plane from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, for the groundbreaking ceremony.  There was a huge celebration in Schulenburg. Since we once lived in Oconomowoc, we were most interested in this bit of local history.  The reference to flying cow had another connection, as well.  The Schulenburg schools mascot is the flying shorthorn.

Both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts organizations were popular here. There was even a Girl Scout band.

Sausage making was and is popular to Czech and German people. These two machines show a sausage hand-stuffer and a more mechanized version.

This is a Crosley IcyBall. As unlikely as it looks and sounds, this contraption would freeze water into ice. It was used before most rural areas in Texas had electricity to freeze food (and ice).

We enjoyed reading about all the interesting items and history on display in the museum.

Just down the street was the Polka Music Museum. Whoever heard the like? Polka music is still popular here. As we were looking around the museum, a local man came in and asked the woman staffing the front desk what polka band she was going to go hear on New Year's Eve.

When I think of polka music, I first think of accordions. These were on display in the museum.

I don't necessarily think of the tuba or saxophone, but obviously they are also used in polka bands.

The display included a number of local polka bands. Some of the band names were interesting. The one that most got my attention was Oma and Oompahs. I think that means grandma and the grandpas, but I'm not positive.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

San Antonio Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone. We hope you are having a blessed holiday. We are spending ours in San Antonio. Here are a few of the things we have seen.

It seems we weren't the only people interested in walking around the Japanese Tea Garden on the Sunday before Christmas. The weather was nice and we even saw a wedding being performed. The garden was built in a former limestone quarry used to mine limestone for Portland cement.

On Christmas Eve we walked on the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio. Again, that was a popular activity.  Many people were riding these barges on the river.  The barges are like taxis--they allow people to get on and off to stop for shopping or a lunch.  We walked instead.

We checked out LaVillita.  It is a shopping area with many local artisans showing their wares. 

On Christmas Eve we attended Holy Eucharist at St. Mark's Episcopal Church downtown.  The choir and liturgy and sermon we all inspiring.  The church is decorated with candles and red roses.  Beautiful.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Our Texas Trip--So Far

We have been to Texas numerous times during our 30 years of traveling by RV.  This trip, so far, we have seen colder weather than usual but just as many interesting sights.  One day we saw a small herd of javelina, some ostriches, an ibex, goats and cattle.  There have also been a few longhorn cattle.

Traveling across West Texas, this sign and the town of Fort Stockton are part of the scenery.

At least 3 former US presidents hailed from Texas, Lyndon B. Johnson, George H.W. Bush and George Bush.  We spent a couple of days in Johnson City and saw the childhood home of LBJ.

There are lots of peaches grown in West Texas and many, many vineyards.  We saw these signs around Johnson City and Fredericksburg.

Of course, the main reason we stopped in Johnson City was to see the Christmas lights.  We happened on them two years ago when we were here and wanted to see them again.

While shopping in Fredericksburg yesterday, we visited the Vereins Kirche (community church) and Christmas pyramid in the center of town.

We also saw this neat old panel truck.

Many of the trees in Texas are large. Some, like the live oak, are evergreen.

Others are bare this time of year but still beautiful. I think this must be a mesquite tree.