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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Amana Colonies of Iowa


Hello friends and family!

Hope you are all having the glorious weather we have experienced for the last two days and are promised for the next two before the rains come on Tuesday. It may be though, that we will move right through them as they enter Iowa and we move on to Nebraska. At any rate, it was heavenly today—not a cloud in the sky, in the 70’s but no breeze. As a result it was a little warm in the sun but wonderful in the shade with no humidity.

Today we spent at the Amana Colonies, mostly in Amana itself since it is the largest of the 7 villages and has the most commercial activity. I would imagine it was the center of the community when the farms were actually part of an community in the true sense of being a commune or having a communal way of life. But I have gotten ahead of myself  about the history of the place. There is a picture that gives the history but I’ll summarize. A religious group developed in Germany in the 1700’s—one of many such groups at that time in history. As often happened to these groups they were considered to far out of the main stream and the members became persecuted and sought a more peaceful place in which to live and worship. The group first came to Buffalo, NY but in time found it too secular an atmosphere and so sent scouts to the Midwest to find an appropriate place to set up a forever home. Sounds like the Mormons to me—but different. Or the Amish, or the Mennonites—but different. Anyway, Iowa was the spot chosen, land was bought, seven farms were established and a town located in the center of each.  Each town had its own blacksmith shop, bakery, church, school etc. A couple of woolen mills were set up and some other communal enterprises to manufacture items to be sold out of the community to support it. When the Depression came and when the younger folk became dissatisfied with a communal system the Church abandoned the practice and a Amana Society was formed. Stocks were issued in the Society, Amana appliance company was established and life went on.

Today Amana has all kinds of shops, restaurants, art galleries, theatres etc in the old buildings. These are not a Shelburne Museum situation, though there are several museums spread around the villages. These are living communities—at the meat shop, and the bakery and the general store there were people who live in these houses and farming these fields who were shopping along with the tourists. There were no crowds, everything was very walkable, the items were quality goods, though I come from Vt so don’t need Iowa cheese. The meat shop and smokehouse in Warrensburg, NY ( Oscar’s , Karen!!!) is much nicer with more products than the one in Amana. Jams and jellies and honey and 6 wineries and fudge and much much more was available.—but again, Vt has it all and I don’t need to buy that stuff in Iowa. Saw some jewelry that was interesting but passed on it—though I did buy a lovely painting of a cat that looks like Misty. Got some postcards and a birthday card for my Aunt, who will be 92 on the 23rd. Small block of fudge to last a couple of days, two ginger snaps that needed a lot more ginger and a lot more time in the oven but tasty anyway. A piece of Danish to last two mornings and lunch. Didn’t spend much but had a great day rubbernecking and talking to other shoppers.

There were two ladies from Minnesota with a bus group here to see Lynette Jensen—apparently she is a prominent quilter. A gentleman who bought three bottles of wine at one winery ( all fruit wines—berries and apples etc ) and his daughter who bought hers at another winery. She tasted the wines at both places and told her Dad that hers were sweeter than his—good dessert wines. I was sharing the bench outside the Christmas Shoppe while Barb was shopping. I think I had more fun there.

Everyone was very friendly and there was absolutely no pressure anywhere to buy anything. While we ate lunch there was a tractor parade that appeared out of nowhere—we all waved to each other –very small town fun.

We tasted only one wine, though I was going to try three to chose one. Asked to taste pinot grigio, Edelweiss and riesling. Lady gave me the pinot—it was too sweet—told me if I thought that was too sweet then I wouldn’t like the Edelweiss or reisling, because they were sweeter! Bought a bottle of something with a French name but not a varietal name—much drier and a nice white. Since we aren’t drinking it tonight since we’d had a cookie at lunch and will probably try a bit of fudge  I cannot tell you what it is. Oh, well—it’s a dry white at any rate.

We visited the other villages and some of the businesses but each of them has only a museum, a business and a general store or art gallery. They are still primarily residential but the buildings are beautiful—and there are many barns and brick and stone buildings original to the establishment of the settlements as well as newer homes and barns built by the younger generation and the newcomers to town.

We finished up by revisiting the Fireman’s Memorial next door to our motel . Of course, there is a piece of World Trade Center I Beam in a copse of trees—they sure shipped the debris far and wide out of the old Burg!

So, now, it is time to eat and then start plotting tomorrow’s route—think we’ll hit Grant Wood’s American Gothic home and the birthplace of the Duke—or maybe not. Until tomorrow have a lovely Sat night. I’m going to put my feet up and rest these strolling tootsies. Nighty night—The Indulgent Splurgers  Kathy and Betsy

BTW, I caught my apostrophe gaffe last night and fixed it on my blog site but I’d already sent it to you virtual travellers and didn’t think it worth resending after correction. I KNOW you are watching Joyce and Joanne!

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