From The World Of Parks & Recreation
By Doug Comer
The Parks and Recreation Department is in its final preparation of the second stage of Enrichment Programs. Appalachia is a fairly new program that was initiated into the four-part school series and it offers children in Harrison County the chance to see what life was like prior to the world of IPhones, X-Box 1s and Microsoft Tablets.
“We have really been busy getting the Recreation Complex ready for our Appalachia Program,” related Director Mike Book. “Personally, it is one of my favorite programs we offer as the information and resources accumulated have been passed down from the staff’s family members as well as my own. And to pass this knowledge down to children will be not only educational, but an eye-opening experience.”
The program, which will run from the end of November up through the holiday break, paints a story of the hard working families from the late 1800s and the day-to-day duties of all family members. From tending to the farm to telling stories on the front porch, we hope to cover what the day entails for families from that era. Book has even taken some of his own stories that has been passed down through the years and will share those with the kids as he explains.
“Being from Shinnston, we have had many family members employed in the mining industry. These coal miners were full of pride and worked very hard during the days and under some of the worse conditions. I plan on passing along a couple of the stories told to me by a couple family members. Also, children will have the opportunity to walk through our mining cavern, study different kinds of rocks and gems, as well as pan for some gems.”
Education today is by far different than it was as a child during that time. One-room school houses were the norm and education was finished well before the age when we graduate today. Only the basics were taught during the school year and while it was very important for them, many went on to work in a trade similar to the career of their family members.
Also, homes were very small and mostly the kitchen and the sitting room were connected, while some bedrooms were separated and others were not. The bathroom facilities consisted of a big hole that was dug out in the backyard and a small building sat atop the area. This is more commonly known as an “Out-house.”
“We have made some nice settings to give the kids a small glimpse as to what families had to work with back in those days,” said Book. “From wash basins to clean up before supper, to the style of facilities that were made for them to learn, work and live, we have recreated a school room setting as well as the inner part of the home where they reside. My favorite scene is the front porch of the cabin we built a few years ago as I tell my stories about life in Appalachia and some of the folk tales that were told.”
All in all, the program will really touch the subject about life before Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat; face-to-face interaction was a must and entertainment involved stories, singing and dancing. It was a simpler life and our program looks to recreate this type of lifestyle for those who have never experienced such a life.
To jump onto another tangent, Thanksgiving is this week and while some may think it is the day to fill the bellies in order to be ready for Black Friday shopping; to me the holiday is all about the family bonding that goes with it. The morning deer hunt at the cabin has been a tradition in our family and now, still in the newlywed stage, I have the opportunity to stop at the in-laws and learn the traditions of the holidays that have been passed on from the farm in Pine Bluff.
And fortunately, while some families eat around the noon hour, my parents have dinner on the table around 6 pm. Two rounds of food are tough to consume, but I am glad I prepare for 10 months and 20 days for the feasts. Just remember to be thankful for the opportunity to spend it with family and friends as there are those around us that may not be able to have the resources, the family or the love that is shared on a day like this.
Take care and have a wonderful holiday.