The History of the
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.