That’s the best word to describe today’s activities here at the annual ALHFAM
conference in Winston-Salem, North Carolina: simply, WOW.
Today was spent visiting our host site, Old Salem Museum and Gardens. We were
free to roam the entire historic district. In addition, a wide variety of special tours
were offered throughout the day. I started my day with a “behind the scenes” tour
of the storage areas for the Museum’s vast artifacts collection, as well as its research
library and document archives. Old Salem is currently doing some marvelous work
in digitizing much of the materials in those latter areas. Soon, anyone in any location
will be able to access the historic information housed at the Museum. It’s just
amazing what can be done nowadays.
After lunch, I took advantage of some free time, and stopped in to visit several
of the houses. Costumed interpreters warmly greeted me at every turn, and
they willingly shared their knowledge of a particular room or building. I had
some in-depth discussions with several, as well.
Then, it was on to the special tour of Old Salem’s Single Sisters House.
This building is not normally part of the Museum’s offerings, as it houses
offices for Salem College. The Single Sisters House is where all the single
women of this Moravian community lived and worked. Much of it is as it was
at the time it was built. In some sections, the original floors, walls, and ceiling
beams can still be seen. It’s always awe-inspiring (at least for me) to be standing
or walking in the exact same spots where those of prior centuries did. And again,
our tour guide was welcoming and knowledgeable. (If I recall correctly, her name
was Jane Carmichael?)
Afterward, I spent some time visiting as many other buildings as I could.
Unfortunately, closing time came sooner than I’d like, so I only saw several
from the outside. Perhaps there’ll be some spare time tomorrow to go back?
I did, however, walk nearly the entire historic area. In doing so, I probably saw
what were the MOST interesting buildings: four private residences that were
the very first houses to’ve been built in Old Salem. Each had a marker as to
where it stood on that list of “first builts,” but interestingly, there was number
one, and a three, four, and five, but no number two. I’d like to know the story
The day was capped off by dinner back at the hotel, and then the famous
(infamous?!) ALHFAM Auction. I was blown away by the sheer number of items
that were up for bid, both for the silent auction and for the live. And yes,
of course I bid on (and won) numerous choice goodies! Think I’ve reached
my spending quota for the month, maybe the year! One of the best items
I bought is another volume for my historic cookbook collection: Ralph Ayres’ Cookery Book, with an Introduction and Glossary by Jane Jakeman. She’s the same author who worked on another cookbook that I have, Kidder’s Receipts of Pastry and Cooking for the Use of His Scholars: An Eighteenth Century Recipe Book. In looking briefly through it, I know it’s a real gem.