Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Yarn "Black Hawk" Nebraska

My aunt thought it pretty funny that I took a picture of my knitting project in front of Willa Cather's house. Once I explained *yarn along* to her though, she thought it very neat and helped me "stage" the photograph! It was extremely windy, and the scarf kept blowing down off of the sign. 
Would you believe it if I told you that I was still working on the same old scarf? I must be the slowest knitter ever. Well, that and I keep letting life get in the way. There's a tiny voice in the back of my mind reminding me that I won't need to have this finished until there's cool weather again I blame her.
The Knitting did come with me on our family trip, and I managed to add about a foot to the scarf, despite having pretty busy hands with Lotte during most of our stay. 
She does ok in the car, but needs constant entertainment. Let me just say that "patty cake", "peekaboo", "here's the church" and "oh little playmate" have officially been sung too many times this month. No...this year. 
She was really good though, so I shouldn't complain too much. Travelling with babies could be oh so much worse.

Because I knew that we'd be visiting family in Kansas and Nebraska, and was hoping to stop in Red Cloud NE,  I started re-reading two of my favorite Willa Cather books, "O Pioneer!" and "My Antonia". 
 character Antonia Shimerda was actually Annie Pavelka, nee Sadilek. She is standing on the left.  Frank, the brother standing, is one of my ancestors. In the book, he was somewhat crazy. In reality, he was actually not crazy but deaf.
As it turns out, some of Cather's characters are my ancestors-and they lived in  and around Red Cloud and Guide Rock. (In the book, she calls the town Black Hawk to protect the true characters).
I knew this before I visited, but I was really happy to find photographs of the actual characters from Cather's books. And of course, pictures of Willa Cather herself.

I've just started reading "song of the Lark" again because right now i just can't get enough of her books. I'm hoping to dig up some information on some of those characters as well. 

Unfortunately for the boys, this was the highlight of the day. A water pump on the back porch of Ms. Cather's house, that was for display purposes only. It was such a hot day, and they moaned and groaned over our silly pilgrimage the entire time we were in red Cloud. At the time I wanted to bop them, but in hind sight, I can remember being taken on what seemed to be insignificant field trips at their age. I really can't imagine any other little boy acting differently than they did.
Lotte behind Willa Cather's house, next to the Hollyhocks. 
The Harling house where Antonia (Annie Pavelka) worked as a maid.
The grave of Willa Cather's Parents.

Last but not least, the sweet little depot where all the immigrant families first arrived.
It was so neat to imagine the very same people in her books actually going about their lives in this little town. I'm honored to have been able to visit.

Joining Ginny this week in YarnAlong.

P.S Happy Independence day!!


  1. How cool to have this connection to My Antonia.
    I read that in 9th grade, which is now over 20 years ago, and I don't remember most of it, but I do remember enjoying it. I should find a copy and re-read it.
    Happy Yarn Along!

  2. Lucky you to have seen such sites! Love the photos and gosh-I need to read My Antonia now.

  3. Looks like a great trip. I'm sure Ella will be dragged on many of those too because I am a history fanatic. You are lucky the baby is so good. Ella was a nightmare to travel with when she was little. The first time we went home (4 hours)it took over 6 and Grandma ended up in the backseat trying to keep her amused. Thank goodness she's old enough to watch her movies or play with her Explorer.

  4. What a wonderful field trip, I would have been in heaven but yeah my boys would have probably gotten antsy. Love the pics and those sound like great books.

  5. Well that is definitely a cool thing :) I love how you staged your knitting ;)

    1. Hi Rachel, and thanks!
      I'd love to comment back if you're participating in Yarn along, but I can't find a link to your site/blog from your profile page. Do you have a link?


  6. Great pictures. Great story of you connected to the Shimerdas and other families from the story. In '95, I took a train from Chicago back to LA and we went through Kansas. Cather's opening line My Antonia reminded me of that train ride. Ever since reading the novel, I so badly wanted to see the sod buildings and the dugouts and downtown Red Cloud and experience the setting of some of my most loved characters. Thanks for posting the pics.

  7. I just finished reading "My Antonia" for the second time this morning. I've been thinking about the book all day, and researching literary reviews about it online. I just stumbled upon a few photos of Annie Sadilek Pavelka, and she looks EXACTLY like Cather described her! She WAS beautiful (in a wholesome, natural way), strong, good, and had a wonderful spirit-- it's so very apparent in the pictures (I just cannot get over it)! Her children WERE all handsome: "It was no wonder that her sons stood tall and straight. She was a rich mine of life, like the founders of early races." No wonder Willa Cather wrote a book about her- and a literary classic, at that. What a tribute. -Janie Behr