A Miscellany

I have arrived in Merrie Olde England, but I still have a miscellany of thoughts hanging over my head. Let me get these out of the way before I conquer the largest of the British Isles.

Little Free Library

One of my interests as a former book dealer has been the promotion of books through the Little Free Library. This international organization began in Hudson, Wisconsin in 2009. It was here that Todd Bol built a model one-room schoolhouse. He filled it with books and put it on a pole in his front yard. It was an instant hit with his neighbors, so he built more.

Today, there are more than 150,000 such little boxes (and all kinds of other box designs) on every continent in more than 120 countries. More than 300 million books have reached the hands of readers. This success has been documented in The Little Free Library Book written by Margret Aldrich and published by Coffee House Press.


Statistics tell us that more than 30 million adults in the US cannot read or write above the third-grade level. These same statistics have shown us that when children learn to read, their chance of graduating from high school is greatly assured. The Little Free Library comes to the rescue. Their mission is to be a catalyst for building community, inspiring readers, and expanding book access for all through a global network of volunteer-led Little Free Library book-exchange boxes.

I stumbled on such a free library while in Germany. It was unlike any I had previously seen. This box was a free-standing structure with sliding glass doors. The books were placed spine out for easy access. It was not difficult to find soft cover English-language books (when they were placed there) as English spine titles read from the top down; German spine titles read from the bottom up. I was easily amused.

Is there a Little Free Library in your community? If not, perhaps you can start one.

City Park and Botanical Garden

Before leaving Gütersloh, I managed to get back to the City Park and Botanical Garden. I simply wandered around taking photos. This 38+-acre park is a visual delight. The City Park is laid out like an English garden, with curved paths, lines of sight, and ponds (which become skating rinks in the winter). Tall trees and numerous flower beds catch the eye.

The Botanical Garden is a series of these curved paths and squares, alongside of which are plantings of most of the herbs you could ever think of. Each bed is labeled in case the smell doesn’t tell you what the herb is.

Lying on the edge of the city center, this park is the people’s living room. What an assess this is for the city.


Travel Sketches on Facebook

I place my posts on my Facebook page in addition to my blog. If you read my posts on Facebook, you miss most of the photos I use. Facebook allows only one photo for my posts. A case in point is the post two weeks ago about the Miele Museum. With that post, I included photos of the bicycles and automobile they manufactured. I’m including these photos with this post for those of you who asked. You will always find my complete posts on my blog (TravelSketches.info) rather than on Facebook.

Fact: As of 2022, 21% of Americans over 18 years of age were illiterate
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The Miele Museum

I finally made it to the Miele Museum, close to where I’m living in Gütersloh, Germany. Their Promise of Forever Better was beautifully displayed with an historical perspective on the major products they have produced over the last 124 years. Perhaps the success of the Miele Company is due to their diversification and continual moves into the future. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, this post will be primarily pictures.

The Museum

The Miele Museum is located in one of their massive buildings, one which stretches in both directions as far as the eye can see. I entered the abundant but sterile lobby, turned left, and walked through automatic glass sliding doors. The first thing I saw was a row of the motors they have manufactured. Proceeding further in, I quickly saw a lighted “trail” in the floor, a clear sign to following order to see the exhibits.

The first item was the cream separator, the initial product the factory produced. Then came the fascinating display of numerous early washing machines. It’s hard not to sympathize with the washer women of the day when we consider how easy it is to wash clothes today. This was illuminated with a display of contemporary washing machines.

The next product to see in its various manifestations is the lowly vacuum cleaner. These apparatuses ranged from long, cylindrical tubes to more recent pull-along cleaners. I would guess that this product bit the dust with the inventions of the Hoover Company.

Two Surprises

The next two products are a real surprise. The first of these is the bicycle. These were manufactured from 1916-1960 in the shape of today’s bicycle. The real piece de resistance was left for the last item on display. Miele manufactured an automobile, and what an automobile.

They made only one model (1913) in small numbers and sold out. They didn’t even have one in their possession until they performed a world-wide search to find one. And, one is all they found. It was located in Oslo, Norway, and they had to have it at any cost (which they wouldn’t reveal). Rumor has it that they paid about 6 million dollars for it!

Was It Worth It?

Though my remaining time in Germany is short, my visit to the Miele Museum was fascinating museum and worth the time I spent there. I learned about a company which I had never heard of before coming here. I leave with admiration for this massive company and the many products it has produced over the century.

Fact: Miele aims to make their products 100% carbon-neutral
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