THE SCENES COULD HAVE AIRED on Little House on the Prairie:
Harsh clang of the bell summons students inside the one-room Pleasant Valley School—girls to the left, boys to the right.
Girls in prairie dresses scratch chalk across slate.
Teacher praises his students with “Good, very good.”
Outside, during recess, legs fly in a game of tag while others flail in attempts to walk on stilts.
Across the way, in an 1856 log cabin, the scent of baking bread lingers while a steady hand cranks a butter churn.
A team of Belgian horses pulls a wagon, not a covered wagon like Pa Ingalls’, but still, a welcome mode of transportation on a stunning autumn afternoon and evening in southeastern Minnesota.
Fast forward to July 15, 1944, and Helen Greenville walks the worn floorboards of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church as she prepares for her daughter, Lilas’, wedding. “Oh the Deep, Deep Love” slides from bow to violin strings.
Next door, Mrs. Morris peels apples for applesauce.
In another building, Hopalong Tenacity taps out Morse Code and the barber razors hair and Civil War veteran and businessman John Hutchinson greets guests, all dapper in top hat and tails.
These scenes and more were part of the Rice County Historical Society’s second annual Night at the Museum, an event which brings history to life inside and outside museum buildings.
I loved it. This is how I learn history best—through voices and stories and action.
And, based on my observations, adults and kids attending and participating likewise embrace this style of sharing history.
I’d like to see more of these living history events in my community of Faribault, one of Minnesota’s oldest cities founded in 1852 by fur trader Alexander Faribault. Our historic downtown would provide an ideal stage as would the historic Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour and so many other aged buildings in and around town.
HOW DO YOU BEST learn history? How does your community share its local history?
© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling