Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kids go back in time at Shelton History Center

SHELTON >> From pickle-preparing to frame-making, the 10 children who attended the Shelton Historical Society’s ‘Adventures in History’ program Monday got a taste of life in a bygone era.

They learned how hard life was for people who lived in the early 20th century.

The students, aged 7 to 11, followed Grandma Helen’s “Tasty Dill Pickles” recipe during the program, which began Monday and lasts for a week.

Shelton Historical Society Executive Director Tracey Tate said the children will have to “pay” for the pickles on Friday with play money to taste them.
Tate said they will be learning almost-forgotten skills, such as making change, writing in cursive, and telling time on an analog clock.

The children also are keeping a ledger and learning how to track money they earn and spend, she said. They earned money for washing and hanging towels on a line and used some of the play money to “buy” a blueberry muffin for a snack. They washed the muffins down with water, which docent Ellen Kolesk described as “free from Mother Nature.”

One of the highlights of the morning’s activities was when Kolesk showed them the (unused) outhouse on the Shelton History Center grounds.She told the children it often would be used by more than one person at a time: girls with girls and boys with boys. She opened the door to show them baskets filled with pieces of cut-up newspaper and corn cobs used as “toilet paper.” Kolesk said the corn cobs were soft to the touch because they contain corn starch.

Kolesk held up corn husks and said people used those for “toilet paper” as well. Grass and leaves also did the trick.

Tommy McMullen, 11, commented, “That was cool. I never saw (an outhouse).” Tommy said he lives in Florida and is visiting relatives in Shelton.

Youngsters also got a chance to climb aboard a restored “carryall,” a horse-drawn cart that used to transport children to Huntington School in the 1920s. It was the precursor to today’s school bus.
When students were working on making wooden frames, Kolesk told them they needed “to use all their strength with their hands.”

She said, “You need to use your fingers for more than video games.”

Kolesk said a century ago, people worked always with their hands. “Work was work,” she told the students.

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