Tom and Marjean Cunningham came through Sparta. Tom preached for us Sunday and Monday we took off for their home town of Dover/New Philadelphia, Ohio. We got started after Joan completed some work in Carbondale. We drove straight through making it in about 9 hours arriving at 11:00 that night. The next day we began our tour of the town, population 15,000 Dover and maybe 20,000 New Philadelphia. We went to a cafe for an inexpensive breakfast. While there the mother of Tom’s old girlfriend recognized him and we sat while they caught up on who’s doing what.
Later that day we walked the downtown after driving Marjean’s old bus route as a kid. We were looking for a candy shop and then a coffee at a local coffee shop. We found the candy shop, and as we were discussing the choices, we heard a voice from the back….”Tom Cunningham, is that you, I’d recognize that voice anywhere”…We bought some candy while Tom caught up with the owner of the store who was part of his graduating class. He got the full scoop about President Bush’s visit to Dover where he stopped at this candy store and made a purchase to encourage small successful businesses.
After coffee and candy we went to the Ernest Warther Museum. I wasn’t expecting much, carving you know, but was I blown away. This man was not just a carver, but a gifted man who was able to complete intricate carvings that moved from a piece of wood, and even set the date of completion. I cannot do justice to a description. It is also the story of a man living life, loving his wife and children and refusing the big money so to live the life God gave him to live. Tom remembers seeing the old wild white haired man as a kid, because all kids were welcome on his property to play and swing on the rope tied to the old Oak tree.
It was while entering the museum that Tom chatted with another woman who remembered him from High School. That night we had dinner with Marjean’s family at an Amish feeding trough. They just herd the tourists through and pretend that its Amish home cooking instead of just another Midwest buffet. We bought some baby Swiss cheese and some special baloney and drove the back roads through Amish country back into Dover. The next day we left at 6:00, getting coffee, dropping Tom and Marjean off at his mother’s in Cambridge and making our way home for church that Wed. night.