MHV “Home” For Staff
In my role as Office/Rental Manager here at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV), I tend to be more personally involved with the business side of our facility than with the “museum” side of things, except to say that I am always proud of the work that our Curatorial staff does with setting our annual theme and putting together very high-quality exhibits. However, this year’s theme - Storied Places - and current exhibit have connected with me in a much deeper way and are continually reminding me of my own story as it relates to this workplace, my home for 40 hours per week.
Growing up in a certain area often makes it a very natural place for people to stay and continue their lives. I myself often feel like I have grown up at MHV. My earliest memories date back to the mid 1970’s when I was a young boy and my grandfather, David P. Reimer, was an MHV volunteer.
Grandpa Reimer was at that time quite involved in many different areas here at MHV. When for the first time I was asked if I would like to ride with Grandpa on an old tractor in the Pioneer Days parade, I have to admit I was hesitant. The parade would take quite a long time, likely pushing the limits of my childhood attention span, and so many people would be watching; it was a pretty tall request for such a young person. But once I was convinced that I would do it and would like it, I did - and it’s actually become quite a special memory.
The creation of special memories at MHV continued through my early years. My mother was recruited at some point to give tours, and during those tours I spent most of my time with Grandpa Reimer in the Blacksmith Shop, sometimes operating the bellows used to fan the fire or trying to sharpen a tool on the large sharpening stone wheel. Grandpa tried to teach me how to hammer the iron, and later how to make things out of tin and understand the workings of the small model steam engines.
In MHV’s current collection of artifacts, we have a model of a Chortitz Housebarn that my grandfather built. I have distinct memories of working with him in his garage at home to cut some of the blocks and shingles for that model, and later even trying to nail a few of the shingles onto the roof. I had to be so careful not to split the shingle.
Both of my grandparents have long since passed, but my parents have remained an important part of the volunteer workforce here at MHV. I have in my personal collection of photographs two pictures: one is of Grandpa Reimer operating the forge in the MHV Blacksmith Shop; the other is of my father in the very same pose in the same Blacksmith Shop.
I myself don’t operate the forge, and I don’t build things out of wood or metal like my family predecessors, but I am more than happy to be a part of the work at MHV in my own ways. When I go outside and see that someone has lit a fire in the Blacksmith Shop, when I get to watch the Pioneer Days parade with my kids, or when I’m at an MHV festival event and the Steam Club fires up the old steam engine, all the old memories come flooding back. When I interact with MHV’s many rental clients, they often ask if they can look around the village. And when they ask me about some of the things they are seeing, I’m always more than happy to tell them the stories of how I grew up here and how MHV remains very much a part of “home” for me.
Calendar of Events
August 4-7: Pioneer Days - 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. daily
August 14-18: Pioneer Day Camps for children ages 8-10
August 16: Heritage Classic Golf Tournament at Quarry Oaks