Schoolmarm Time Machine

 

Written by Amy Dee Stephens in the December 2019 Issue

 

School Marm

“Ding, Ding, Ding. Good morning, scholars. My name is Miss Lowery, and I am your schoolmarm today. As you enter Edmond’s beautiful 1889 Territorial Schoolhouse, I want you to step back in time. Forget about video games and cell phones, because for the next five hours, we are going to live life like Edmond children did 130 years ago.”

“When I say that, the school children’s eyes get big, and they start to smile,” said Carol Lowery Anderson. “It’s amazing how quickly they get comfortable playing their new role. After 15 minutes, they realize I’m really going to treat them like it’s a different time period.” 

“Ladies line up first, because that’s polite. Next, the gentlemen. I know that you haven’t been in school for awhile because you’ve been helping with the harvest—so let’s go over the rules again. First, we will address each other with respect, using the names Miss and Mister...” 

“I like to weave themes into the conversation, like how the boys helped feed the animals before school and the girls did household chores. The children had important responsibilities back then, and it was physically intense. They helped gather water from the creek or find buffalo chips to heat the schoolhouse,” Carol said. “The people who settled in our town had fortitude. They couldn’t be lazy. Even young children had to learn hard lessons, and it made them stronger.” 

Carol, a retired classroom teacher, is in her eighth year as one of the schoolmarms—and it’s a role she sees as a privilege and a calling. “The schoolhouse provides a unique first-person experience. Even parent chaperones are shocked by how easily the children embrace playing old- fashioned games, writing with a quill pen or participating in the lost art of group recitations. Parents comment on how different life was back then—and in some ways, better.” 

After much research and reading pioneer diaries, Carol has concluded that young people today are hungering for the character qualities that existed at the turn-of-the-century. “They are seeking ‘community.’ The schoolhouse became the center of life for pioneers, who used it for quilting bees, square dances, church services, weddings and funerals. It’s how they spent time together. Now, people are gathering at historic places, such as The Patriarch and the Railyard, seeking togetherness.” 

“Mister Edwards, did you sneak down to the creek at lunchtime? You left dirty footprints on the floor. Go sit on the three-legged stool, young man!” 

Carol greatly enjoys bantering with the school children, homeschoolers, and even adult groups as they immerse themselves in the past. Frequently, the younger ones engage so completely that they believe she’s actually from another time zone! But all too quickly, Carol finds herself transported back to 2019. “It’s like a time machine. I just have to open the schoolhouse door and hear the street noise off 2nd Street,” Carol said with a laugh. “Going back to 1889 is harder. I get into schoolmarm mode by arriving early to sit quietly and read about the time period so I can prepare my mind and heart to fully engage. Of course, wearing heavy boots and a long skirt helps me get into character.” 

I often hear children say, ‘I wish school was like this every day!’ It’s a lasting memory for most children that goes far beyond the peppermint prize won at the spelling bee. They walk away realizing they can relate to the people who lived 130 years ago, and that history is interesting.”

“Miss Adelle, you may ring the bell to signal the end of the day. Class is dismissed.” 

Visit www.edmondhistoricaltrust.com for public visiting hours or www.edmondhistory.org to sign up for schoolhouse programs. 

Post A Comment
(Will not be published)
 Refresh CAPTCHA Image
Captcha Image
 
Cancel