Friday, April 15, 2016

Time Travel is Possible

I'm doing something now that I never dreamed I could get to do. I have been traveling back in time. 

Ella Sharp Park and Museum has always been one of my favorite spots in Jackson. A couple years ago I started learning as much about Ella Sharp, the woman, as I was able to learn. Last October, I began as a volunteer at the museum. I ultimately wanted to be one of those women who got to dress up in period clothing to historically interpret  the 1880s. I started volunteering at a couple of festivals doing just that and doing some historical presentations about candle making or working in a general store. Soon, I began to get deeper than I thought I would. 

Being out of a full time job poses financial challenges, but also some liberating freedoms. One of those freedoms is the opportunity to work part time as a docent for the Living History at Hillside program. Previously known as Pioneer Living, this program brings 3rd graders from schools in Jackson County into the Ella Sharp Museum's historical buildings to give them hands-on experience living in the late 1800s. As a docent, or teacher, I get to guide the students through different activities that will hopefully engage them, make them think, and to appreciate the challenges of living during that time. At the end of my first week I am absolutely loving this opportunity. Doing this work truly makes my soul shine. Though the students can get a little rambunctious, energetic, and eager, I thoroughly enjoy  being able to share my knowledge and passion for history with them. Not only do I get to work in youth development, my true passion, I get talk about one of my greatest interests, all day long. 

I'd like to talk more about all the buildings I take the students through at a later time, but for now I want to get to the time travel part. I have been through Ella Sharp's farm house many times before, but now as a docent I get special privileges. Early this morning I walked up to the house to unlock everything and prepare for the day. For 10 minutes I was, for the first time ever, alone in Ella's house. I was wearing period appropriate clothing as the very same time. Aside from being able to talk to Ella, I had never felt closer to her. All around me were items from her time and I was dressed how she may have dressed. With no lights on, the morning sunlight shone though the large windows leaving me in the same state she might have been at a point in her life. I just stood there amidst all that magic. I love interpreting this time period, but what I love most of all is talking to the students about the incredible woman who loved her community and city so much that she left her home and land to us. I enjoy showing them her picture and pointing to the same exact spot on the porch where she sat. I ask them to all say one big thank you, out-loud to Ella, letting her know we appreciate what she gave us to enjoy and learn from. For me, I can't imagine time travel any other way. 

 (Sorry for the Alex show here, just me in a few locations at Ella Sharp Museum in period clothes.)