When life gives you snow, make cheese sandwiches and think about Gardens, Guns and Grangers

Posted on April 7, 2016


When April deals us this:

The Forecast was Right

There are only a few sensible responses.  This is one:

When life gives you snow - read

There is having toasted cheese sandwiches and Short’s Bellaire Brown for breakfast.  OK, that’s not sensible, even if you shoveled stairs and shoveled out the mailbox and waited until 1:00 pm to have breakfast.  Which is also not very sensible.

So I went out to the nicely cleared mailbox for the mail and found a note from one of my sisters enclosing a copy of a story she was sure I’d like, “All in a Dog’s Work” by Megan Mayhew Bergman, from the latest issue of Garden & Gun Magazine.  She was right.  I liked the story.


Wait, wait – Garden & Gun???   Of course I had to go investigate, and then I had to listen to Garden&Gun Radio for awhile, and then I had to read Daily Shot (the Garden&Gun blog – I read the post about the pimento cheese sandwich controversy at the Augusta National – do you think they’re pulling our legs? – honestly I’m past knowing).  Then I had to lie down for a little bit with some nice Michigan snow pressed to my brow.  Maybe Mrs. Uphilldowndale is right.  Americans don’t do irony.

I feel better now.  I decided to tackle the backlog of draft posts and chose one about Grangers because, as it happens, April is Grange Month, and things keep falling into place.

One day back in December 2012 Babs sent me this photo and wrote: It began to snow this afternoon as I was coming back from Petoskey via East Jordan. This is the Peninsula Grange 706, Patrons of Husbandry 1895 – 2003 just off Advance Road between Boyne City and East Jordan. I don’t know a thing about it, but liked the way it sat by the two trees with the snow beginning.

Peninsula Grange

l liked the look of it too, and knew at once it belonged in my beloved 19th century.  I did a little mousing around looking for the story  before other things intervened.  Someday, I thought, I have to finish that post.

This is Someday.

Earlier this week I was up in Charlevoix talking to Randy Cebulski, Master of the Barnard Grange, about the memorial to Leon Pease out on Barnard Road.  I mentioned in passing that once upon a time I’d meant to find out more about Peninsula Grange, too.  Well, he told me, it’s closed, but we’ve merged.  I took it as a sign.  I’m going to acquire two Grange Hall stories for the price of one.

I am fond of Grange Halls. When I was a little girl I used to scrunch into a corner of the scratchy horsehair settee in the “parlor” of Gram and Grampa’s farmhouse in northern Wisconsin to read back issues of the Grange magazine. In this way I acquired the notion that the Grange had something to do with baby chicks and fixing barns and mysterious quarrels with railroads. Many years later I transplanted myself to northern Michigan and discovered a county full of Grange Halls, some of them mere ghosts, others repurposed – and some still used for Grange meetings and community events.

Take the Barnard Grange, for example.  Here is a reproduction of the flyer Randy handed me (I wrote notes all over the original):



FOR INFORMATION: 675-0004; 547-9153

I can tell you that the Public is Welcome.  I can tell you that there is no fixed admission, just a pay-what-you-like jar that will help keep the heat on and the roof in good repair.  I can tell you that the dishes that will  be passed will be delicious.  I can tell you that the music will be by the Tagalongs, and that they know some really old tunes.  Not “oldies.”  Old.  The kind Alan Lomax recorded back in the day.

Randy tells me there are photos of all the past Masters, including Leon Pease, on the walls, so I pretty much have to go just for that.

Be there AND be square.

If you can’t come, here’s more about the Grange in Michigan, just to give you something nutritious for your mind to chew on while I’m out gallivanting.

Michigan State Grange historical marker

At the northwest corner of Water and Burdick Street in Kalamazoo there is one of those classy Michigan Historical Markers.  I can never resist those things.  Always have to stop and read them. This one says, on one side:

  • MICHIGAN STATE GRANGE Organized in 1873, the Michigan State Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry held its first annual meeting in January 1874 at Allen’s Hall, which once stood on this site. The Michigan Grange grew rapidly with over six hundred “subordinate granges” by 1876. Dedicated “to educating and elevating the American farmer,” these local units promoted rural concerns including rural free delivery mail and pure food laws. The State Grange supported Michigan Agricultural College, now Michigan State University, and its creation of agricultural extension services. Many Grange leaders played important roles in state politics including Cyrus G. Luce, who was elected Michigan Grange Master in 1880 and Michigan’s governor in 1886.

And on the other side:

  • WOMEN IN THE MICHIGAN GRANGE The National Grange, founded in 1867, was one of the first fraternal organizations to admit women and men as members on an equal basis. From their positions of influence in the Michigan Grange, women like Mary Bryant Mayo worked to reduce the isolation of rural women and improve women’s educational opportunities. Mayo also organized the Fresh Air Project, which took Detroit women and children to farms during the summer. Jennie Buell and Ida Chittenden mobilized the Grange to win woman suffrage in Michigan, a goal they achieved in 1918. Dora Stockman, who served on the State Board of Agriculture and in the Michigan legislature, created Four Leaf Clover Clubs (the present-day 4-H Club) for Grange children.