Thursday, December 25, 2008

Visit (Mormon) Historic Cove Fort!

The weather was dismal. Gusts of snow blew with startling force, sometimes obscuring the highway on which we traveled on our hours-long journey. But we saw a sign: "See Historic Cove Fort: Next Exit!" Much in need of a break, we turned off the highway and went to have a look.

The Cove Fort, being soundly inland, was presumably metaphorical in its naming convention. It was a rather small fort, of similar appearance and design to other forts of the same period we had seen in California. It was Christmas Day, so we expected no guides, despite the signage indicating "free tours". Imagine our surprise when an old man emerged from a nearby building, ready to provide the advertised tour!

Our first moment of concern was upon seeing his nametag. "Elder Thomas," it read*, with a clarifying "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" directly beneath. Why would a tour guide be a church elder? We wondered, but - in my case, at least - supposed that he was just an elder because he was really old. The tour began.

It started well. We learned historical facts - mission from Brigham Young, sent to build a fort, never really used, waypoint for mail-coaches and travelers... there was one off-moment, in which the Mormon good-treatment of Indians was explained as an "understanding" of their "descent from the tribe of Lehi" imparted by the Book of Mormon... but we, or I, shrugged it off.

Things, naturally, deteriorated.

We went room to room. We saw the trading-room, the telegraph room, the parlour. In this last, we were presented with a puzzle from Elder Thomas's equally ancient wife. "There are four sources of light in this room," she told us. "What are they?" We quickly named lamp, fire-place, and window, but those summed only two three. "It's a bit of a trick question," she admitted, and then told us the answer: the fourth source of light, of course, was scripture, which lights all our lives. (There was a Book of Mormon lying on the table.)

It was a very awkward moment.

The tour became more and more Mormonious. Here's the dining room, with a portrait of Jesus Christ, to which the original occupants of the fort would always kneel and pray before meals! Here's the kitchen, with a portrait of Brigham Young and his twelve apostles; here's the boys' room/root cellar, with a portrait of the governor/president of the church at that time; here's the girls' room, with a portrait of Joseph Smith, his brother, and the successful reconstitution of the Christian Church despite their untimely deaths!

A series of awkward moments. (Though I nearly cracked up when we were advised to go to "mormon.org" for answers to all our... mormon questions?)

The tour concluded, rousingly, with a presentation of Books of Mormon in many languages (in a case that folded out from the wall!), a gift of many pamphlets (one of which was actually about Cove Fort), and an analogy of a spinning wooden toy to the essential nature of Jesus Christ to our lives. (Presumably, I have spun to a halt. I think. It's a little unclear to me.)

So... Mormons, eh? In Utah, eh?

I guess.

(Here's a link.)

*Though he was a church elder, I confess that I don't recall our guide's name, nor do any of my family members. Thomas is a good name, though.

2 comments:

Calvacadeofcats said...

i felt the feear and suspense building liske a hollowe drum in a ceremoniel of the ameriend indians

Cavalcadeofcats said...

Most excellent! (I hope I have not offended any Mormon-folks who read this.)