Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill, Youngstown, OhioConservation, GARDENS & PARKS, SHOWS/FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS, STAFF, USA MAINLAND — By Milli Thornton on December 8, 2011 at 01:08
Story by Milli Thornton. Photos Copyright © Brian Williams.
LANTERMAN’S MILL is located inside of Mill Creek MetroParks in Youngstown, Ohio only a few minutes drive from our house. Brian and I met up with our friends Ron and Joanne of Yellow Creek Theater (see Movies Under the Bridge) to enjoy Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill during the last weekend in November.
Named for its co-builder, German Lanterman, the mill is one of three that have stood along the banks of Mill Creek since it was first surveyed in 1797. In 1843, a flood washed away the pre-existing mill. When Lanterman built its replacement in 1845, he constructed the ten-foot thick walls of the foundation from sandstone quarried in the local area. The wooden beams were cut from nearby oak and chestnut trees.
The preservationists have done a wonderful job of retaining the history. The water wheel you can see part of below is a working replica of German Lanterman’s original. From an illustrated sign inside the building:
Perfectly round and balanced to turn at a constant rate, the wheel can produce 40 horsepower. That’s enough to run a sub-compact car!
Most grist mills position the wheel on the outside of the building. Lanterman built his inside to protect it from the harsh Midwestern winters.
Compared to the dank cold of the water wheel room, the upper floors were warm and bustling with cheery activity. We used the wooden staircases to go between floors and see everything. The event was a mix of shopping (many hand-made items from local artisans), art and traditional displays, and live entertainment. We partook of hot cider as we browsed.
I bought handmade rose water in a real glass bottle and Joanne bought her cat a Christmas stocking full of cat goodies. (When she got it home she had to hide it in a closet—Jasper was going crazy being able to smell the catnip in the stocking!)
Naturally, Santa made an appearance. The crowd was knee-deep in kids who wanted to present their wish lists, so we relocated to another floor to make room for the younger generation. Waiting in line with the other kids was a baby dressed as Santa, sleeping in his mom’s arms. Very cute!
There were live demonstrations, including a blacksmith, woodcarving, weaving, leatherwork, tinsmith and pottery. We spent some time watching a craftsman carving old-fashioned wooden spoons and they were a thing of beauty—as well as a serious investment compared to the price of the plastic mixing spoons that I’m now ashamed of owning.
Live entertainment included a classical guitarist, a jazz guitarist, a juggler, a bagpiper and balloon art. We enjoyed the folk music from Tytely Wounde String Band—a band comprised of players both young and old.
My favorite display was Victorian Christmas. Handknit Christmas stockings, shoes and dolls of the era and traditional ornaments made me want to go back in time. The tiny Christmas tree perched on the display table was decorated with some of the twelve Old German Christmas ornaments, including pine cone, Santa, angel and fruit basket. Tiny electric candles and strings of cranberry completed the charming picture.
Victorian Christmas was manned by Richard and Donna Best dressed in Victorian attire. Richard looked dashing in his top hat and goatee and Donna looked demure in her black cape and bonnet trimmed with black ribbons. During summertime the Bests switch eras to the Wild West. Their Black Lightning Wild West Show with its award-winning bullwhip and roping tricks has been performed as far east as New York and as far west as Nevada.
There was one ornament on their Victorian Christmas table that I really coveted: a statue of Santa in green robes. Richard explained that in olden times Santa was dressed in various colors according to region. I thought he looked particularly handsome in green and I asked for the price. Nothing on the table was for sale. Kind of refreshing in this age of commercialism, even though I would not be able to acquire the Santa statue for myself.
We rounded off our Christmas at the Mill experience by eating freshly-roasted chestnuts outside near the covered bridge. A special Giving Tree set up between the mill house and the bridge provides help to children in need in Mahoning county. Donations included warm hats, scarfs and mittens, and they made for colorful and poignant Christmas tree ornaments.
Olde Fashioned Christmas at the Mill was perfect for getting into the holiday spirit early. Next year I’ll bring a hat and mittens to hang on the Giving Tree.
Milli Thornton (aka Milliver) is the author of Fear of Writing: for writers & closet writers. She is owner of the Fear of Writing Online Course, where her mission is to put the fun back into writing. Milli blogs at Screenwriting in the Boonies and the Fear of Writing Blog and coaches writers individually at Writer’s Muse Coaching Service.