Published 11:00 pm Friday, October 11, 2013
Students get a glimpse of the good ol’ days
Pioneer Days at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama Friday was filled with “a lot of learning and lot of fun.” That’s the way Rene Adams, a teacher at Samson High School, summed up the experience of her tenth-grade students.
More than 1,000 students from area schools, elementary through 10th grade, participated in Pioneer Days. If the students don’t remember anything else about the “old days,” they will remember that a cannon blast will shake the fillings out of your teeth.
Civil War re-enactors “boomed” the cannon every half hour or so. But it was the first boom that sent kids covering their ears and scurrying for cover.
The students got to experience, first hand, what it was like to have lived during the time pioneers were carving a place for themselves in Alabama.
Re-enactor Michael Barlow explained to the students the process of making something, seemingly, as simple as a basket.
“Back in pioneer days, you couldn’t run down to Wal-Mart and buy a basket. You had to make it if you got it,” Barlow said. “First, you had to go in the woods and find the right kind of tree and cut it down.”
The students moaned.
Barlow explained and demonstrated the basket making process. The students responded with intense groans when he answered that making a basket, start to finish, takes about six months.
The students moved from demonstration to demonstration in groups and learned about everything from smoking sausage to forging horseshoes.
“Our students were very surprised to learn that the pioneer children attended one-room schools,” said Tammy Calhoun, Banks Middle School. “They didn’t realize that children from first grade to high school were all in the same classroom.”
Calhoun said that one student asked where the children went for music.
“Our students are used to having different teachers for different subjects,” she said. “It was hard for them to think that one teacher taught everything. They came away with a better understanding of how far we’ve come and more appreciative, too.”
Stephanie Tucker, Pike County Elementary School, said that by participating in Pioneer Days students realized how different times were back in pioneer days.
“The students didn’t know anything about hoecakes and were surprised that a real hoe was used to make them,” Tucker said. “They enjoyed the log church and were surprised that it was so cool inside when it was so hot outside.”
The word most often used to describe the students’ reaction to Pioneer Days was “surprise.”
Re-enactor Wayne Brunson said what is surprising to young people often translates to appreciation.
“Young people needed to know about pioneer life in order to really appreciate what they have,” he said. “Pioneer Days is a way to expose them to the way life was when this country was pioneered.”
Pioneer Days will continue today at the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. Hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Admission is $6 and children under five are admitted free.