At Gallant Farm, you can step back into the 1930s to experience family farm life of the era. With the Gallant Farm book club, which we’ve named “The Gallant Farm Literary and Cow Pie Society,” you can step into many past lives, in many locations.
We’ve read, to name just a few: “My Ántonia by Willa Cather” (pioneer life, Nebraska, late 1800s), “Riders of the Purple Sage,” by Zane Grey (the wild west, Utah, 1871), and “The Earth Abideth,” by George Dell (Ohio farming, Fairfield County Ohio, 1866). Each book brings the past to life through the eyes of its characters, recounting history in a way that just can’t be replicated in high school history books.
I think that’s why these books get read and reread over and over: they help us understand what it was like to live in a certain time and a certain place. I remember the first time I read “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. Even before I got into the story of abject poverty and racial injustice, I was entranced by the picture that Lee painted of the small town in Alabama where Scout, Jem and Atticus lived.
“Maycomb was an old town, but it was a tired old town when I first knew it. … Somehow, it was hotter then: a black dog suffered on a summer’s day; bony mules hitched to Hoover carts flicked flies in the sweltering shade of the live oaks on the square. Men’s stiff collars wilted by nine in the morning. Ladies bathed before noon, after their three-o’clock naps, and by nightfall were like soft teacakes with frostings of sweat and sweet talcum.”
I just might dust off my old copy and read it again since it’s our book of choice for March 27. Another book that has piqued my curiosity is our selection for Feb. 27: “The Girl of the Limberlost,” by Gene Stratton-Porter. The Limberlost was a swamp that covered two counties near Ft. Wayne in far northeast Indiana. Much like the Great Black Swamp that covered 1,500 square miles in northwest Ohio, the Limberlost has long since been drained for farmland. This makes the book that much more interesting to me: the swamps are gone, but they come to life again through a girl growing up in their midst.
Occasionally, we’ll throw in a book written more recently. But most of the club selections are books that could have been read during quiet evenings on a 1930s Delaware County family farm. That’s the feeling we recreate at the Gallant Farm Literary and Cow Pie Society. Meeting the last Wednesday each month at 6:30 p.m., the book club is open to anyone 14 years and older who relishes gathering in the parlor for a fun and lively discussion of some of the great books of years past.
Gallant Farm is located at 2150 Buttermilk Hill Road, Delaware. Visit www.preservationparks.com/events and click on each month’s final Wednesday to see what we are reading. And join us!
Sue Hagan is the marketing and communications manager for Preservation Parks Delaware County. She can be reached at 740-524-8600 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.