U.S. Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio incumbent diligently working on re-election, made an unannounced appearance, smiling, shaking hands, and posing for photos. However, his bid for one of the paintings fell short. Maybe next time, Rob, and good luck at the polls.
About 80 people enjoyed the dinner, including some of my Cincinnati friends who made the one-hour drive to Hillsboro. They also enjoyed Tim Koehl, an historical society board member, who conducted the auction of the paintings. Tim was a natural auctioneer, injecting humor while passionately urging bidders to loosen grips on their wallets – all for a worthy cause. These volunteers work tirelessly to make their society vibrant. My friends, along with other visitors, appreciated the fruits of their labor: the museum and its many mementos gave them a good look at early Ohio in Highland County.
Along with raising funds, the paintings and their essays, many of which were published online and in the newspaper by the Times-Gazette, allowed many readers to learn about their neighbors and local history. And, although the money was important, it may not have been as important as preserving these Ohio memories, our old barns, the workhorses of our pioneer forefathers. That’s been the purpose of my Ohio barn project from the beginning.
I loved this experience – the people, the event, dinner under the trees – and I promised the society I’d return, with more paintings and essays, in a few years. Highland County is an historical gem of Ohio and, in my own modest efforts, I’ll try to keep it that way.