NEW HAVEN — New Haven Elementary School students learned what it was like to work and play in the “old days” when Heritage Day was held conducted.
The youngsters were led by their teachers and parent volunteers from station to station, where they learned that daily necessities were not always purchased at the store, but made or gathered.
Jerry Morgan taught the students about coal mining. Coal mining is a large part of the history of West Virginia, and the children learned how the miners worked before safety standards were mandated.
Coopering, weaving, candle-making and beekeeping demonstrations taught that stores were not always available nearby to purchase needed items.
Joe Smith showed the art of coopering, or making needed items out of wood. He demonstrated how utensils, such as spoons, as well as buckets were made.
Jane Gilchrist demonstrated weaving. Her presentation, “Sheep to Cloth Making,” showed how wool from the sheep is placed on a spinning wheel to make yarn, and how the yarn was used to make clothing. A regular presenter at Heritage Farm in Huntington, Gilchrist allowed each child to take a sample piece of yarn to keep.
The students were able to dip their own candle, as Bruce Bannerman showed them how the candles were used in homesteads prior to the invention of electricity. He told them making the candles in layers served a much better purpose than trying to dip a large candle all at once.
Betsy Smith and representatives from Bob’s Market and Greenhouses taught the students about the long hours necessary to make sweet treats. Smith demonstrated beekeeping and how the bees produce honey. Women from Bob’s Market showed how apples were gathered, peeled and cooked in copper kettles for apple butter. Each child was able to sample a taste of the warm, cinnamon apple butter.
The children also learned it wasn’t all work in days gone by, however. Gewanna Nichols played her autoharp and sang old songs native to the area. Sandy Roush demonstrated the art of storytelling, and members of the Riverside Cloggers showed how much fun people could have when they gathered for community dances.
Heritage Day is conducted annually at the school and is organized by a committee of New Haven teachers.
Mindy Kearns is a freelance writer for Ohio Valley Publishing who lives in Mason County.