LeRoy Pennysaver & News

LE ROY PENNYSAVER & NEWS - JUNE 13, 2021 by Lynne Belluscio As the Historical Society gets ready for a second year of “long distance” learning for the fourth grades and giving them an opportunity to do some hands-on learning, it is pretty obvious, that watching someone churn butter or wash clothes in a wash tub is a far cry from actually doing it. But we are doing our best to share those experiences. Jen Bertrand from school will be taping Anne Frew washing clothes on the back porch of LeRoy House – a virtual experience. The kids won’t be getting all wet, nor will they run clothes through the wringer, or use clothes pins to hang the wet clothes on the line, but they will see what it was like to keep clothes clean a long time ago.) We have had a bit more success with having kids make butter. We have assembled some butter churning kits that will be sent to school. Each student will be able to “shake” a half pint of cream into butter. And Mrs. Bertrand came to LeRoy House and we taped a segment on churning butter that the kids can watch, and in addition, we have put together a little booklet about butter. (A few of these kits - minus the ½ pint of cream - will be available for purchase at the Jell-O Gallery soon if folks want to do this activity at home with their kids.) Another activity that we will be sending to school, is a quilting project. When the students would come to LeRoy House for Pioneer Sampler, we would set up the kitchen table for a “quilting bee.” Actually, it wasn’t a true quilting bee, but the kids would take wallpaper squares and design a quilt pattern. (At one time, we thought that theymight even sew a couple of pieces together, but the entire 15 minutes that they were in the kitchen, was spent showing them how to thread a needle! And by the way, boys are better at threading needles than girls.) So, this year, Jen Bertrand taped a short little video about quilts and then we have prepared small kits and work sheets for the students. (These kits will also be available soon at the Jell-O Gallery.) Today, Bruno DeFazio, Anne Frew, and I will be taping a short story about games. When the fourth graders would come to the LeRoy House, this was one of their favorite activities. Some years, when the weather was nice, and the bugs were not thick, we held the activities in the front yard. There was hop scotch on the sidewalk. (We had to explain to the kids, that in the old days, the lines were drawn in the dirt, because there were no sidewalks.) The kids tried their best to be “graceful” playing the graces. Rolling hoops was always a challenge. Jump rope seemed to be easier. Sometimes, we would bring out the stilts and the kids could give them a try. Perhaps the hardest thing for the kids to understand was that in pioneer times, kids didn’t have a lot of time to play. They spent a lot of time working. Even the littlest kid knew how to weed the garden and feed the chickens or sew on a button. There were no soccer balls or basket balls. Baseball was played with a hand sewn ball and bats made from ax handles or barrel staves. There were no baseball gloves. (I should add, that early baseball was played with one out to an inning; no foul balls; a runner had to be hit with the ball to be called out; and a game was won when one team scored 100 runs. ) Parlor games are always popular with the kids. We do have to explain that cards and dice were not allowed in the parlor because they were considered to be gambling. And even if cards were played, they were never allowed on Sunday. There was a type of solitaire that didn’t use cards. Rather it used pegs or marbles. This year, we are preparing a solitaire game for each student that uses lima beans. We will also send to school the skittles boards, and some puzzles and jacob’s ladders. We are also sending materials for the students to make a small toy, called a thaumatrope. We will greatlymiss the students’ visit to LeRoy House again this year, but we hope they will never forget their virtual experience. How to Be a Virtual Pioneer