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Photo Friday: “The Good Old Days”

A group of workers can peaches at the Messiah Rescue and Benevolent Home in Harrisburg, Pa. (Brethren in Christ Historical Library and Archives)

Today’s Photo Friday image comes to the search for piety and obedience courtesy of Karin Bisbee, who works in fundraising at Messiah Village, a Brethren in Christ-related institution for older adults. It depicts a slice-of-life scene from the early days of Messiah Rescue and Benevolent Home, the progenitor of today’s Messiah Village, with home workers canning peaches for residents to enjoy.

Karin uncovered this image while researching at the Brethren in Christ Historical and Archives a few weeks ago. According to a blog post she wrote after her research visit, Karin uncovered quite a wealth of information at the archive. Here’s a taste of her post:

What a thrill to hold a leather-bound ledger from 1897 and see the carefully scripted entries detailing each donation and each gift of food  given to help our ministry grow.

People often talk about “the good old days.” We all seem to think that life was simpler then, more genuine and less crazy. As I’ve been researching our humble beginnings on Bailey Street, I agree that life was simpler in many ways – but it wasn’t without its struggles and challenges.  I’m amazed at how many people rallied and sacrificed to ensure that the Messiah Rescue Home could get its footing.

Memory is such an important component of any community’s cultural heritage. I’m glad that Messiah Village is taking memory seriously as it celebrates its 115th anniversary this year. But I’m also glad that Karin isn’t totally sanguine about the Village’s past. Our memories have a tendency to gloss over the bad while celebrating — even hyperbolizing — the good. So as we remember “the good old days,” we need to keep in mind that the past wasn’t as simple or worry-free as we may recollect. It had its own set of complications and struggles.

I’ll leave you with another wise word from Karin:

Today, 115 years later, we can enjoy reminiscing about the good old days, but let’s remember to be thankful for the men and women who sparked and nurtured that vision that is the Messiah Village of 2011.

(You can learn more about Messiah Village’s 115th anniversary at this blog.)