Schoolhouse music                                           Schoolhouse narration

The History of the Schoolhouse
By Bill Kelsey

When I first worked at the Village, the schoolhouse was there, but it 
was being used as a storeroom. The plan, we were told, was that at 
some point Laurie Hollings was going to install a "wax museum" type 
of display. That sounded interesting to me and I thought I would 
stay tuned in case I might be needed. When I asked Laurie Hollings 
about the project, he said it was in progress and asked if I would 
like to work on the hands for the figures. I said "yes" and made 
several pairs. Then, the project got put on hold for some reason. 
(I never knew why...ask Joe.) After several weeks or months, I 
inquired again and was told that the project was not going to be 
completed. (Ask Joe.)

After giving this some thought, I went to Joe one day, and said, " 
I'd like to take over the schoolhouse display. Instead of wax type figures, I'll make it look like everyone just went outside for recess." Joe liked the idea and gave me a budget and a deadline. 
(I'm thinking this was around '64 or so. If I'd known there was 
going to be a quiz, I'd have paid more attention.)

The Village had already acquired some old time school desks and 
several McGuffy (Reader) books and that was about it. I started 
shopping. I probably hit every antique shop in Santa Clara Valley 
(which is one of my favorite things to do anyway). I bought "lunch 
boxes" (kids in the old days mostly used cast off tobacco tins), 
slates, pencil boxes, ink wells and anything else that my research 
indicated a typical schoolhouse would contain. I borrowed a cast 
iron stove and even interviewed my grandmother who had taught in a 
one room schoolhouse. All of the work on the blackboard was taken 
from her notes and samples of her penmanship.

Each desk and its contents were designed around a typical, but 
make-believe student. The teacher's desk held some of her things 
(old time spectacles) plus items she had confiscated (slingshot). I 
bought coats and hats for the "cloak room". There was a wash bowl 
with water in it, a dirty loop towel, a drinking water bucket with a 
dipper and pie pan on the stove. The way to keep the water from 
getting too nasty too soon was to add a little bleach to it.


 

 Frontier Village - Schoolhouse History Part II