Sunday, July 16, 2017

Solo Saturday Sightseeing

The Male Trio is off on their Summer Sojourn to South Carolina (I honestly didn't mean to alliterate...but sometimes these things just happen--what can you do?), and you know what this means: Solo Field Trip for the Queen of the Clan. This time I decided to storm--um, "visit"--Winston-Salem, a city about 70 miles west of our hometown, in the area known as the Triad. (This is not to be confused with the Triangle, comprised of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill. The Triad is a whole other thing, made up of Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem. I think it took us a full year of living here before we finally figured that you're welcome...)

And right off the bat, let me clear up another confusing issue: Wake Forest University is located in Winston-Salem....NOT in, you know, "Wake Forest". What's UP with that, right? Well, I learned that the school used to be situated in the town bearing its name, from its founding in 1823, right until it up and moved to the current campus in the 1950s. Alrighty, then, since I'd gotten THAT all squared away, I decided to take a stroll around and see the sights. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, this is not because Derek has any intention of applying to the institution (it's both too small...and wildly expensive), but...I just like walking around colleges, okay?

I have to admit, it was picturesque--even if there was a ton of construction happening at the moment. (Powerwashing the bricks, painting the wooden window frames...putting the finishing touches on the building that will--apparently, according to the helpful signage--house a rock climbing wall and other recreational facilities...nice return on that super-high tuition, I guess...)

After a pleasant half-hour leg-stretching meander, I moved on to my next stop, for which I'd chosen the Old Salem Museum and Gardens. When I'd been researching on the web, I'd gotten the impression that this would be a single structure (which I'd skip, since I'd prefer to be outside, even if it IS blazing freakin' hot in July around here) and some charming gardens (which I'd photograph, since the compulsion to do so seems to be programmed into my genes, somehow). But oh, was I wrong--turns out that it's quite an operation, with a whole village worth of buildings to tour, demonstrations to watch, shops to patronize...and learning opportunities to experience. (And yes, the promised flowers! C'mon, say it with me....yaaaaayyyy!)

So, here's what I picked up on my educational Saturday: Salem was originally settled in the 1760s by a religious group called the Moravians, (who had come to the U.S. from Germany as missionaries around 1735). Their goals included pursuing religious freedom, and ministering to local indigenous populations, including blacks and Native Americans. It was interesting to hear that the church owned slaves (unfortunately), but at least believed in educating them along with their own children in reading, writing, and trade skills (including math, as it related to business transactions). All the inhabitants of Salem also worshipped together side by side; that is, until communities outside the congregation protested their treating enslaved people as equals. After that, the Moravians bowed to the pressure to segregate the populations by color, each in their own chapel.
All of this history was fascinating to me, of was the cemetery, called God's Acre, where Moravians are still buried today (separated into sections for men, women, children...and choir members, for some reason). Notably, since all members are considered to be the same, spiritually, the Moravians inter people chronologically by their date of death, and with identical, flat white stones rather than raised tombstones. However, on the site of the black church grounds, there were also 131 bodies laid to rest in the 18th and 19th centuries...but only a few of these are even marked, and then only with the word "Adult" or "Child" to identify whose final resting place it might be.

Whew...that was a lot to take in--and all of it captivating, for sure--but after tromping up and down the cobblestoned lanes for a couple of hours, I'd had my fill of...historical hoopla. I was ready to make one last excursion, into the city itself, to get a feel for the modern urban personality of Winston-Salem. I honestly didn't have a whole lot of energy left (Hey, wading through the past really takes it out of ya!) so I found a parking spot and hit the pavement on foot for a several-block radius. I suspect there's tons more to do and see, when I have more time and motivation--including a minor league baseball team, the Winston-Salem Dash, which means that on my next jaunt I should easily be able to convince the rest of Team WestEnders to tag least, as long as I promise not to make them study on a weekend!

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