Gypsy's Travels

Monday, May 12, 2008

Odd Shots Monday - "A Step Back in Time"

We took a step back in time Saturday at the Old Settler's Park in Round Rock, Texas. The Williamson County Historical Museum sponsored a pioneer day with the theme, "Home, Sweet Texas Home." It was well attended, but not overly crowded, so we felt comfortable letting the children have a little more freedom than we would have otherwise.
Throughout the day, the various participants we met were very interested in imparting information about their particular area. The Buffalo Soldiers had set up a typical campsite with many interesting artifacts that the children were actually encouraged to touch. Wearing a wool Army uniform coat, the spokesman of the group had chosen authenticity over comfort. In the sweltering 90 degree heat, he enthusiastically talked about some of the items from their predecessors' everyday life.

A well-worn deck of playing cards held images far removed from today's world.
"How can you tell this is a Jack and not a King? You are right! He doesn't have a crown."
"What is this toothbrush made from? Yes, wood. And this one? No, they didn't have plastic then. Yes, it was bone."
He asked Em to read the words on a small tin before he opened it. "Pumice Stone," she said.
"And where does pumice stone come from?" he asked the large group that had gathered around.
Seven-year-old Abs was the only one to raise her hand, which she did wildly, waving it around and calling out, "I know! I know!"
Looking at her with some disbelief, he asked for the answer.
"Volcanoes! It comes from the lava when a volcano erupts," she shared excitedly. How was he to know she had just finished reading books on Pompeii.

We moved on to lunch. Free hot dogs were provided until they were gone. That didn't take long when some families were carrying off 2-3 per person. We stood in line for at least a half hour to get hot dogs for the two little children in our group. The rest of us opted for the "authentic dutch oven meal" which cost $3.00.

The scene was picturesque with all the dutch ovens holding Hoppin' John and delicious biscuits, flanked by a simmering pot of beans. The volunteers remained very amiable in spite of the wood fire and charcoal heat raising the temperature in the immediate area.

Our family gathered on benches in the shade close by, to eat our delicious lunch served in a bowl, much as the pioneers would have done while on the trail. Small concessions were made to the times - disposable bowls, utensils, and a blue container of water.Hot weather in the Hill Country is very tolerable when there is shade and a slight breeze.

Fortified with food and water, we perused the rest of the pioneer offerings. The children picked the seeds from cotton so the lady could card and spin the fibers into thread. They enjoyed corn muffins spread with butter fresh from the churn. They thought washing clothes on a rub board with homemade soap, then hanging them out to dry, was fun. Been there, had to do that, not fun for long.

The authentic one-room schoolhouse had been moved to the park. The "Schoolmarm" gave us a lot of information on the history of education in the little building. The children may not have gone to school as long as they do now, but the level of education was much higher in the years they did go. Of course, there were fewer children in a classroom and the older ones helped the younger ones. They practiced their writing on slates with chalk. The quill pens were used sparingly. I was left with the amusing mental image of the "Schoolmarm" chasing chickens and turkeys to replenish the quill supply.
Children were easily amused by simpler toys in the pioneer days. I often wonder what they would think of the high-tech no-brainers we offer our children today.

The girls made corn shuck dolls. These would have been a delight to young girls who had just finished hours of shucking corn and had a bit of time to play.

Junior was delighted by the different pull toys. Simple items that would have been hand carved and sanded after the days work was done. A true labor of love from a tired father for his beloved child.

Another gift from simpler times was the gift of amazement. It is hard to amaze the children of today who have never known a time when men had not walked on the moon or flown in space ships. popular musical groups have blue faces and pyrotechnics, history happens in our living rooms on screens almost half the width of the room itself.
Abs was amazed Saturday by a simple "magic trick" with a dollar bill. The bill appeared variously on a small wooden board, sometimes under a gray ribbon and sometimes under an orange one.
Abs doesn't usually sit still but she sat quietly for 30 minutes, turning and
examining the board and the money, until she finally understood how it worked.

The look of wonder on a child's face is priceless.
It was a full day. We were hot and tired, but very happy.


  1. Those kids are growing up.

  2. Great post with lots of lovely photos.

  3. Great Post, lots of info and photos and with the added tales most interesting.

  4. Lots of odd shots according to modern standards. Thanks for the tour!

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  6. I don't think it all that odd, but definitely worth th read. I guess it's cause I'm a bit of a nostalgia buff.

  7. I love going to places like these. I am sure that your girls will remember making those corn husks dolls forever.

  8. We're so glad you enjoyed Pioneer Day, because we have fun planning it. You'll have to make sure you come out to our Up the Chisholm Trail event in September. We'll have a chuckwagon cooking competition, live music, and hands-on western demonstrators and activities.

    Lisa (WCHM Curator)

  9. Hi, Gypsy. What a wonderful narrative! I really enjoyed reading this. It's so great how close your family is. I hope all is well with Gunner.


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