I didn’t have to work today, so I made my first foray into the LDS side of Nauvoo. Melanie’s done this a few times already and has always come back with some comical and/or annoying tales about how the missionaries treat her. But with sleeves intact and a husband on her arm, Melanie passed as a legitimate LDS woman today, and we as a good Mormon family. It was fairly clear from the comments made by every missionary we encountered that they presumed we were LDS until we gave them a reason not to. (To be fair, I assume the same thing of the tourists that visit the Community of Christ sites.) It’s interesting to note the difference in style between the LDS sites and the Community of Christ sites. History is secondary—perhaps even tertiary—at the LDS sites. From the get-go, they are talking about the faithfulness of whatever historical figures they are discussing. Sacrifice and suffering are revered because they are done with the goal of “following the prophet.” These things are explicitly said at times. It’s quite an interesting mentality that is much more conspicuous to me now that I’m Community of Christ. The underlying message seems to be, “Don’t stray. Follow the prophet, no matter what. If you love the Lord, you will do whatever the prophet asks. Suffering and sacrifice are part of the plan. That’s what faithfulness is—long-suffering.” The emphasis on suffering in order to build up the church cannot be understated. It really is central to the LDS story. And I guess it makes sense that it would be. When you have the prophet telling you that you must give your time, talent, and resources in order to build the prophet a house because that’s what God wants, or the prophet is telling you God wants you to give him your wife for his own, or God has already given him your daughter as a wife (unbeknownst to her) so it’s time to give her over, or telling you as a young woman that you must marry him in order to avoid eternal damnation—all things that are part of the Nauvoo story—I guess you better hope that all of this suffering and turmoil is God-sanctioned and will be rewarded in the end. That was the promise, and often the threat. I don’t think it’s a mere coincidence that such a way of thinking doesn’t carry through to the branch of believers that disavowed polygamy from the start.
The first destination on our list today was the Heber C. Kimball house. I haven’t visited other historic homes yet, but this one has a lot more personality than most. I quite liked it. Next, we stopped in at the Scovil Bakery. There isn’t much to do there other than get a free gingerbread cookie, so our visit was incredibly brief. Our third stop was the log cabin—or probably a reconstruction of the log cabin—that my great-great-great (I don’t know how many times) grandma, Patty Bartlett Sessions, lived in. There are no missionaries at the cabin, and it’s literally a one-room thing, so again there wasn’t much in particular to do. We then went next door to the Lyon Drug & Variety Store, the proprietor of which would’ve been Patty’s son-in-law, Windsor Lyon (who is not my ancestor). I liked the drug store quite a bit. The missionary there told us more interesting stuff than we had heard anywhere else, and the general setup of the store was cool. I liked all the bottles. I wanted to ask out of genuine curiosity if liquor and tobacco would’ve been available at the store, but I didn’t want to seem like a menace.
At this point, we decided to head to lunch. We tried Grandpa John’s Café in downtown (if there is such a thing) Nauvoo. Although nothing special, the food was better than I thought it might be. After leaving the restaurant, we passed by a gift shop that had one of the most amusing pieces of LDS memorabilia I think I’ve ever encountered: a set of nesting dolls depicting all of the prophets of this dispensation. I’ve included an image of the nesting dolls among the photos below. Enjoy!