PIONEER KIDS: Students get hands-on look at history

Published 5:03 pm Saturday, October 13, 2018

The Pioneer Museum of Alabama is a time machine.

On Friday, 500 elementary school students exited their vehicles and were magically transported back to the days of Alabama pioneers.

Students from Troy Elementary and Covenant Christian joined students from schools in Dothan, Montgomery, Fort Deposit, Greenville and those who are home-schooled for a day back in time.

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Barbara Tatom, museum director, said the days leading up Pioneer Days were unpredictable with the threat of Hurricane Michael. “But, the weather cleared and it was perfect for students’ day and we are expecting a nice day tomorrow as Pioneer Day continues for the general public.”

Tatom said the students were very well behaved and seemed to enjoy learning about pioneer days.

“The students were attentive and inquisitive and were a pleasure to have,” she said. “I think they now have a better understanding of what it was like to be a pioneer and how different pioneer life was from the way we live today.”

Monica Fallin, Straughn Elementary School, said her students definitely gained a greater insight into Pioneer life.

“Today was an eye-opening experience for them,” she said. “They were amazed that something so seemingly simple as making a wood table was such an involved process, as was making a rope. They found it hard to believe that it took an entire day to make a bar of soap and that people only had one everyday suit of clothes and one for Sunday.”

Fallin said hearing the Rev. Ed Shirley talk about the circuit riders peaked the students’ interest.

“They realized that the circuit rider had to take what he needed with him,” she said. “There were no mini-markets along the trail where he could stop for a Coke and a bag of chips. If he didn’t have it with him, he had to do without.”

The students enjoyed Bruce Brannen’s Wild West Show and were spellbound as he “whipped” a paper flower out of the mouth of his beautiful assistant.

“I don’t know of anything they didn’t enjoy,” Tatom said.

A full day of Pioneer programs is planned for today including the Montgomery Dulcimers Players beginning at 11 a.m. Alice Phillips will portray Ann Love and Virginia Sanders, the school marm. Shirley Blankenship will be at the spinning wheel; Steve Lowery will be at the blacksmith’s anvil; Richard Cumby will make ropes and Wayne Brunson will be woodworking.

Al Bouler from Old Alabama Town will portray Davy Crockett. Tamatha and Paul Latham will play the roles of Native American traders and will have jewelry they make out of wire.

Roy Nelson will “engineer” the steam engine train and share the story of Hank Williams’ connection to the train. Mike McCreedy will portray a French army officer and Art McKnatt will keep the Adams Store.

Admission for Pioneer Days is 12 for adults. Members and children under 12 are admitted free.