A Splendid Day for our Heritage House!
By Joyce Flynn -WHS Board of Directors
September 23, 2019 was a bright sunny day for all. A number of Woodbury Heritage Society members had volunteered for our annual Woodbury’s Middleton School field trip. Our volunteers were busily putting out the displays for inside and outside. Outside the house, “Molly the Moo” the cow was made ready for little hands to milk her utters which are made from four rubber nipples that feed newborn calves and filled with water. Around the garden area which is planted with vegetables and flowers, is a plow used in the fields in days gone by. Garden tools are also displayed and used that day to show the children where potatoes come from and digging them up along with harvesting pumpkins, tomatoes, cucumbers and turnips. A corn sheller with buckets of dried corn on cobs in other area along with the back of the outside house wall with hung a scythe, a two- handled handsaw, a corn planter and an ice cutter.
Inside volunteers prepared the household items that you would find in a house 100 years ago, along with clothing, maps and old photos.
Each year we have requests from the surrounding schools to bring children there for a field trip. This day over 100 2nd grade students, their teachers, volunteer parents or grandparents visited our delightful Heritage House (located on the corner of Lake Road & Radio Dr). Morning and afternoon groups walked to the house from the Middleton school. These groups were then broken up into smaller groups. One group with the cow, another in the garden area, one where the bees were once kept, another with the yard toys from the past, and another in the house and the rest with the corn sheller.
“It was my honor to educate the children on what life might have been for families back then. This year I made a long white apron to go with the rest of my costume. I stood in the doorway and greeted our visitors. Many of the children asked if I lived there, and then asked how old the house was. When I shared the age of the house many comments were ‘wow that’s really old”. Then a young one asked how old I was and did I always live in this house. I shared I did not live there and how old I was. The young man gasped and stated, “You’re way older that my grandma, you’re really old!” I got quite a chuckle from that!
I shared with them some of the items that were used on a regular basis such as the stove, washing tub, iron, knitting needles, and a spinning wheel. I explained how clothing was made and taken care of because back then there was not a lot of money for someone to have many pieces of clothing. Of course, they always ask where the bathroom was and I explained the usage of the ‘outhouse’, which many of the children shrieked at!”
All our volunteers commented after the children had left how well-behaved they were and the GREAT questions they asked. You can tell by their questions that they are eager to learn more about our past history. At each area that the children visited, we the volunteers, explain how important it was for all family members to help with outside and inside chores. A family would have a hard time surviving without everyone being responsible for the tasks. We talk about how important it was for the family to be able to counted on each other to do their chores. We also talk about the importance of tasks/chores in our families today. I always ask how many children have responsibilities and many raise their hands that they do! Many parents attending thanked us for talking about this.
Many a time, a parent of one of the school children tell me they have driven by the house, always wanted to visit it but never did. They were so glad they had the opportunity with this field trip. A number stated that they would come back with family or their visitors. And sure enough, several weeks after the school visit, we had one of our regular open houses on Sundays. And there to visit were two families whose child and parent came on the field trip! Others who have attended the open houses are longtime residents of Woodbury. Some were visitors to our city. They shared how impressed they were with the house and items. Many viewed the old city maps and exclaim that they no idea that streets were named after Woodbury’s first settlers. One visitor told me with tearful eyes how humbled she was by all that she saw that day. She had no idea we had such a gem in our community. Our Heritage House is open each year for visitors the second Sunday in June and closes the fourth Sunday in September.
One last note, there is a wooden toy in the house that has two parallel bars with a man crave out of wood that has a stick in his hands. This stick rests on the bars. All he does is rolls back and forth on the bars when moved side to side. No noises, nor bright lights, or buttons to push, just this craved man rolling back and forth. It’s one of the things that the children are most impressed with. Parents stand in awe as the children quietly sit there watching this toy goes back and forth while waiting for their turn to play with this toy.
Our Heritage House is supported by your generous donations. If not for them we would not be able to do needed repairs, or purchase items needed for the grounds. Your donations are a gift to all who visited this house and more significantly for the many children who visit and get to experience a small part of years gone by.