Johnson: Groups come together to feature new program

Published 7:54 am Sunday, December 14, 2014

A new program has begun at the Hormel Historic Home. In partnership with the Mower County Historical Society and the Austin Public Library, we are hosting History Happy Hour on the second Monday of each month.

At our first event in November, about 15 people came together with a common interest — the preservation of History.  We held a forum where history enthusiasts gathered to discuss their rationale for preserving moments from the past, anyone’s past.

John Haymond, executive director of the Mower County Historical Society, spoke of how history is what is happening today.  It is what connects us to our past and prepares us for the future. Ann Hokanson, director of the Austin Public Library relayed her experience as a young archivist and how the work she did many years ago continues to influence her today.

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Riverland Instructor Dean Ulland described his passion for inspiring his students to appreciate the past.  He is described as a “guy who knows his stuff and loves the subject (of history).”

I spoke of my unlikely position as one who willingly accepted the job of preserving a particular history without knowing I would even enjoy doing so. I shared how a part of my psyche has been awakened as I research the Hormel family and look for ways to keep their history relevant to our community today.

The Minnesota Historical Society lists their mission as “Using the Power of History to Transform Lives.”  Their vision is to “maximize the power of personal and community stories and shared history to enrich and transform lives.” Transforming lives is a big commitment, but I have come to appreciate the fact that by delving into events and stories from the past we can be transformed. We are influenced by what others have done, and our perceptions can be formed, altered, or clarified when we learn about the past.

The December History Happy Hour event focused on the influence of music in Mower County. Sue Doocy of the Mower County Historical Society spoke of local musicians who brought entertainment to our county and beyond. Names like Henry Charles, Don Erickson, Roger Larson, Chuck Hall, Jim Rush, Ray Stoltzenberg and many more brought signs of recognition to the faces of our more than 20 attendees. Sue described how The Terp, Oasis and Rainbow Ballrooms were popular attractions in our area and brought guests from far and wide.

Peter Jacobs played a few piano classics and shared their history with the crowd. The HHH living room was filled with music and conversation as history was celebrated. The next History Happy Hour will be Jan. 12, 2015 and will feature John Haymond talking about unique architectural features in Austin.

If you like history, or happy hour, or both, please join us as we continue exploring historical topics that inspire the present.

Social Concerns:

Hormel German Heritage complete with German Cookies 10 to 11 a.m., Tuesday Free, but please call to let us know you are coming.