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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The "Melia Nassau Beach Resort" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Walking around the halls and stairwells of what served as our home for two weeks, the Melia Nassau Beach Resort on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas.  It was our second trip to New Providence and we thought we would try a resort on the opposite side of the island having stayed at the RIU on Paradise Island a few years ago.  The weather was near perfect for our two week stay with daytime temperatures in the mid-80s and evening temperatures in the low to mid-70s.  Daytime showers arrived from time to time and lasted just long enough to cool the air, then pass on into the horizon.  Water temperatures were low to mid-80s with slight wave action except for a day or two when the waves were tough to navigate getting in and out of the water.  The rest of my story will be visual, giving you a chance to share the Melia with us during our visit.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.  PS - Click on photographs to enlarge them.

My wife's favorite piece of artwork.
One of the many bars in the resort.
The resort was nine floors high that fanned out on either side of the massive center area.
Front entrance stairwell.
Main entrance into the resort.
Some resorts have non-descript checkins.  Not this place.  
Quite a few halls that led to who knows where!
This was our daily meeting place.  Quiet spot where we could talk about the day's schedule.
This was what was called "The Market Place".  It was the main buffet for the resort.  Very seldom was it empty as shown here.
The main entrance from the water-side of the resort.
Lights galore illuminated the area where the nightly entertainment was held.
One of the rooms.
Cable Beach is directly behind the resort.
View of the pool and beach areas of the resort as seen from our balcony.
Another view of the resort, pool and beach from our balcony.
Night-time view from our room.
Dancers went thorough the lobby one evening.
Jere, Just Sue and Carol prepare to help themselves at the buffet.
A look at the Tappas Bar.
Lighting at the Tappas Bar.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The "Beisselology: A Visit To God's Acre & The Academy" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Just leaving the Saal Kitchen which is located to the rear of the Meetinghouse on the grounds of the Ephrata Cloister in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.  I walked past the small bakery and headed to the stone-walled God's Acre Cemetery.  Neat place to be buried.  The multitude of oak trees had covered the ground inside the cemetery with a blanket of beautiful leaves and the multitude of acorns eventually served as a treat for my squirrel friends who frequent my back porch in Lancaster.  The people who are buried in this graveyard are nameless on many of the tombstones, worn smooth over time.  But, there are still several interesting grave sites that have numbers next to them with a link to a "Dial and Discover" phone number.  A few of these graves are:

Diedrich and Margarete Fahnestock's headstone was erected in 1878 and tells of an immigrant family who moved from Germany to New Jersey and then to Ephrata after meeting Conrad Beissel.  They were part of the Married Congregation of the Ephrata Cloister.  They had 7 children who remained active in the German 7th Day Baptist Church into the 19th Century.
Nora Connell was the last person to be buried in God’s Acre.  She was from a wealthy Ephrata Family whose mother was a direct descendent from the original members of the Ephrata Cloister.  Before she died she wrote to her uncle, who was a former Governor of Pennsylvania, asking for help with the restoration of the Cloister.
Sister Petronella’s parents were part of the Cloister. Her parents separated and both became part of the Sisterhood and Brotherhood.  She eventually became a member of the Sisterhood and was known as having created the only remaining needlepoint sampler in 1768.  She is buried in God' s Acre near her mother whose gravestone is the oldest grave marker in God's Acre.
Heinrich Miller was not a member of the Cloister, but his father was a married member who ended up living a celibate life.  Heinrich and his wife built an impressive stone home a block to the west of the Cloister.  Heinrich was known to nurse Revolutionary War soldiers and this led to his death in 1778 due to the fever that the soldiers gave to him.
As I exit the beautiful cemetery I find myself next to one of the final buildings that was constructed at the Ephrata Cloister.
This is an altered Polaroid that I made years ago on a visit to
the Ephrata Cloisters. It features the "Academy".
Known as the "Academy", the private school was opened by the Church in 1837.  It served as the school for the Cloister as well as children from the nearby area.  The tradition of teaching school at Ephrata dates back to the mid-18th century when Brother Obed conducted classes for the neighborhood children.  The school eventually became a public school until it was finally closed in 1926.  Well, I hope you enjoyed my four-part look at life in the Ephrata Cloister in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  I thoroughly enjoyed taking you with me for the past few days.  Places such as this have existed at other locations throughout the world in the past and I'm sure will exist in the future.  But, it still gives you, the reader, a chance to see that William Penn's idea of religious freedom in the New World really did exist.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

View of the school today.  It is no longer used as a school.
Another exterior view.
Interior view.
This is the sign you will see when approaching the Ephrata Cloister.

Monday, November 20, 2017

The "Beisselology: My Most Memoriable Trade Of The Ephrata Cloister" Story

The original Brother's House, known as Bethania, was a
beautiful building, but was later destroyed due to
neglect.  It held the first print shop.
It was an ordinary day.  Having the best time looking around the print shop that may or may not have been the original print shop of the Ephrata Cloister which was first established in 1732.  I have read that the first print shop may have been housed in what was called the Brother's House Complex which was erected in the mid-1740s.  
This is the print office that I visited at the Ephrata Cloisters.
I have also read that the Brother- hood, celibate male members of the Cloister, operated a printing press for nearly fifty years beginning about 1743.  Their most ambitious work was the translation and publication of the 1,500 page Martyr's Mirror for the Mennonites.  This publication was the largest book ever printed in colonial America.  
The Martyr's Mirror on display. 
It was the history of the early Christian and Anabaptist martyrs from the time of Christ until 1660 who died in defense of their faith.  Wow, printed right here in this little town known as Ephrata. The Printing Office of the Brotherhood was first established in a building on Mount Zion and then moved to Bethania next door.  This entire complex was torn down in 1908, so I assume that the reproduction that I am standing in was not used for printing in the original Cloister.  
This is what I believe to be a copy of the Martyr's Mirror.
Doesn't matter, for I can still smell the printer's ink that has to remain faintly on drawer after wooden drawer of type cases that were used by men dressed in long white robes.  Can't imagine they didn't get that printer's ink on those beautiful white robes from time to time.  The Office printed about 125 different works during its lifetime.  
The printing press at the Cloisters. Totally hand-operated.
They made their own paper and ink in mills along the nearby Cocalico Creek.  The name of the creek means "snake dens" and  comes from the Lenape Indians, a Pennsyl- vania tribe. The printing paper was made with linen rag and was a high quality paper.  The ink was made from linseed oil.  That oil-based ink smell is something a printer never forgets.  
Here you can see the ink roller ready for action.
I still pick up everything printed to see if I can identify the type of ink used based on the smell.  The jobs they printed were primarily for themselves, but they also did work for Lutherans as well as the Mennonites.  They purchased their presses, type and other materials from Germany. They had the second German printing press in the American colonies.  The reproduction press I'm looking at was constructed entirely by hand following drawings and plans supplied by the Smithsonian Institute.  
This is the wooden type cabinet with many drawers of
metal type housed in their type cases.
It resembles a Gutenberg style press used in the 15th to 19th century.  The wooden type cabinet, wooden drawers, metal chases, wooden furniture,  wooden quoins and composing stone bring back so many memories of when I taught printing in high school using the same instruments and equipment. I felt as if I was standing in my old print shop!  Enough of that for now, since I also had a chance to stop at the carpenter's house, bake house, weaver's house and physician's house.  They all were neat stops, but not half as memorable as the printer's office.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

This shows the chase holding the metal type in place, ready for the press.  To the left are pieces of wood called furniture that hold the type in place.  The wooden wedges are known as quoins.
I do realize that there is more too see than just the print shop.  This is the interior of the Small Bake House.  
This is the Carpenter's House.
The interior of the weaver's house is seen in this photograph.  
Make sure you click on this photo to enlarge it.  The panorama photo shows, from left to right, The Householder exhibit, the stable, the Sister's House and Meeting House (tomorrow's story),  Conrad Beissel's House, The Print Office and the Carpenter's House. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

The "Beisselology: The Cloister's Saron & The Saal" Story

Snow was on the ground when this photo of the Saron (Sisters'
House) and Saal (Meeting House) was taken years ago.
It was an ordinary day.  Just left Conrad Beissel's House with my personal guide Sue and headed to what seems to be the main attraction at the Ephrata Cloister.  It certainly is the largest of the buildings on the 28 acres of property that at one time was much larger in acreage with many more structures.  Wasn't long before we entered what was known as the Saron, or Sisters' House.  It was built in 1743 but wasn't occupied until 2 years later.  
The Sisters' House before the Saal, or Meeting House, was added.
The three-story Germanic-style building is immense.  To the right of  the wooden house is another similar building, but much smaller, known as the Saal or Meeting House.  Both buildings are where the celibate women of the Ephrata Cloister lived and worshiped.  On the outside of the house I noticed that some of the floor joists extended past the siding and were covered with a sloped piece of wood to evidently protect it from the elements.  
Exposed joists are protected by overhanging boards.
As I entered I saw a stone sink that was used for washing your hands.  I quickly took notice to the very low doors, much like the doors in Conrad Beissel's home.  Beissel purposely planned the tiny doors to teach members that "the door to heaven is small."  Approximately 40 Sisters lived in the building while the Brothers lived in their own large house.  
LDub stands by one of the doors in the Sisters' House.
I had to stoop down in order to pass through doors
throughout the house.  Signified humility and servitude.
When the Ephrata Cloister first opened, both men and women were housed in the same building, but on separate sides.  Eventually that building became the Saron after a similar building was made for the men.  Women came to live in the Saron for various reasons.  Some were widows, some entered for spiritual direction while others entered when members of their family arrived at the Cloister. 
 In another show of self-denial, each would have a small closet and the comfort of a bed was exchanged for a wooden bench and a wooden pillow. Mother Maria supervised activities for the Sisters much like the Brothers' activities.  Daily life for the Sisters was highly regimented.  They slept six hours per night from 9 PM to midnight and from 2 AM until 5 AM, with a two-hour break to "Watch" for the coming of Christ. During that time they would attend a mystical midnight matin that featured Beissel frequently preaching.  The time was chosen since he believed that, if Christ should return, it would be in the middle of the night.   
This is a photograph showing the room where the Sisters
would learn Fraktur.  
They ate one small vegetarian meal a day, but did get to eat lamb during the celebration of communion on Saturday, the Sabbath.  One of the activities I had a chance to see was the room where they were taught Fraktur or Frakturscriften artwork; something I taught in high school, but called calligraphy.  
A sample of the Fraktur or calligraphy
that was produced at the Cloisters.
The hallways were very narrow throughout the house. This too was planned, since Beissel believed that narrow corridors showed "the narrow way to paradise through ascetic living." At the far right side of the Saron was constructed the Saal or Meetinghouse.  It was a half-timbered building constructed in 1741 as a worship hall for Householders (married members of the Cloister) as well as celibate members of the Cloister.  It was much like what we would recognize as a small church or chapel.  At one end of it was an entrance door while on the other end was a lectern next to a door leading into a kitchen area.  Sisters worshiped here every midnight as they awaited the second coming of Christ.  The services included scripture readings, lessons and of course music.  Conrad Beissel preached, sometimes with sermons that lasted for hours.  I did see a large two-hour glass that was used in the Meeting House to try and limit his sermons.  
One of the hallways in the house.
The Sisters did have the freedom of officiating at their own midnight "Watch" services as well as officiating at their own "love feasts", or communion meals after services.  The Sisters also wrote hymns and in 1745 wrote "Die Rose", a history of their Order which included devotions they wrote.  Conrad was well known for writing a cappella music maintaining his own rules for four-part harmony.  Beissel learned to play the violin in Europe and taught music at the Cloister and wrote hundreds of songs.  During his lifetime he wrote over 1,000 original compositions.  The Cloister choir became widely known and over thirty people were involved in writing hymns while the print shop began producing hymnals, especially Die Turteltaube.  The Ephrata hymnal (words only) was printed in 1747.  Sue and I walked from the Meeting House into the kitchen area where the "love feasts" would be offered.  A large fireplace for cooking was on one wall with a cabinet filled with dishes on the opposite wall.  On the top of the cabinet were hand-made beehives which were used to attract bees for collecting honey.  Well, my trip through the Sisters' House is complete and as I exit through the kitchen, I look forward for my next experience in this remarkable, but very barren place.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The Sisters would have a wooden plank for a bed and a wooden pillow.
This photograph I found online.  It shows the garb worn by those living at the Sisters and Brothers Houses. Here the Sisters are entering the Saal for a service.

Heading into the Saal or Meetinghouse.  Naturally the doorframe is very narrow and I must stoop to get through the door.
The Meetinghouse showing both levels with benches for seating.  The choir would sit on the second floor.
Ephrata community members created illuminated manuscript tune books for use with their printed hymnals.  This tune book was owned by Solomon Gorrad, one of the 200 or so Householders.  He was also the Cloister’s clock maker.

Years ago the Meetinghouse was only one level until it was opened for more seating.
The front of the Meetinghouse.
One end of the Meetinghouse had a small wooden entrance door.  
The door hardware is remarkable with mostly wooden handles and pulls.
The kitchen was used to prepare the "love feast." 
A large fireplace is on one end of the room with a stone sink on the wall.  Cooking utensils hang from the fireplace mantel.
Just loved the hand-made glass and the light cast into the kitchen.
Cabinet holding the plates.
The woven beehives used to attract bees so they would have honey.
Out the back door and on to more exploration.