Jim’s wife and daughters are gathered at the window, excitedly awaiting his arrival. They’ve been popping popcorn in the fireplace to make garlands for the tree.
I had intended to incorporate this old Preiser farm wagon into the town after Christmas, but it seemed a natural to use it for bringing home the tree. I bound the tree with cross stitch thread, and gave Jim red mittens.
I added two families of deer last season, but didn’t upload photographs. These were very tough to photograph, because they are so far into the interior of the town. I ended up temporarily relocating a house just to get a decent shot.
I’ve always thought of Oak Valley as a river town, but don’t have the space for a river. I did a water color painting of a river and opposite shore, but never was satisfied, as it detracted from the townspeople. I may keep working on this idea of creating the illusion of river bridges beyond the town.
This is a busy time of the year for Mr. Olson, the only Chimney sweep in Oak Valley.
Every now and then, I like to include a photograph which gives perspective for those new visitors who may not be familiar with HO Scale model trains and accessories. This Victorian lady perched on my finger tips has lived in Oak Valley for a number of years. I plucked her out of an open carriage, disrupting an enjoyable drive with her husband. I try not to handle the figures, as they are very fragile. In relocating a carriage today, I accidentally broke off one of the lanterns.
I’m an avid genealogist and local historian, and have very loosely modeled Oak Valley on some of the familiar small towns in northeast Illinois. Many of our families migrated west from New England to Naperville, Illinois in the early 1830s.
Sometimes, I borrow names from real people. The real Nancy Jane Cunningham was born in East Tennessee in 1837, the daughter of a Presbyterian minister who served in Tennessee, Indiana, and Illinois.
Nancy was one of the earliest teachers at Northwestern College (now North Central), in Naperville, Illinois. I am proud to honor this dedicated teacher with a new statue in front of the Oak Valley Girl’s School.
I’m always looking for details to add dimension to the photographs of Oak Valley. I added a small plaza to the back of the courthouse, allowing more room for the audience to gather for Christmas carols. I’m debating a small hedge, or small plants, around the plaza. I also added a statue to the park for a little more interest. The children love climbing on it!