Friday, June 16, 2017

An Actual "Night at the Museum" - - Summer 2017 Edition

Henry Ford once said, History as it is taught in the schools deals largely with...wars, major political controversies, territorial extensions and the like. When I went to our American history books to learn how our forefathers harrowed the land, I discovered that the historians knew nothing about harrows. Yet our country depended more on harrows than on guns or great speeches. I thought a history which excluded harrows and all the rest of daily life is bunk and I think so yet." of my favorite quotes.
Note that he did not say that we shouldn't learn about wars, major political controversies, territorial extensions and the like. He only stated that he did not want to see harrows and all the rest of daily life excluded from history.
There is about a 90 year span 
between us, but what's a little 
time among good friends?
I'd like to add something of my own to what Mr. Ford said: history, as it was taught in school in my day, was boring. It was names and dates with little to no life thrown in to make it come make it exciting. It was drone reading at best
But I still loved this subject, and read as many books I could find that would tell me about everyday life to feed my historical hunger.
Unfortunately, there were very few books of this nature readily available at the time.
Now, imagine if, as this young school boy, I could see history come alive before my eyes...the characters in my history books popping out of the pages and standing right before me, telling of the tales that made them history-book-famous in the first place. 
What I would've given for something like this to happen...
Guess what?
It does happen!
You see, the Plymouth (Michigan) Historical Museum will, every-so-often, play host to one of their "A Night at the Museum" parties, which is based on the movies of the same name:
"The "Night at the Museum" has come to Plymouth, and now children can experience a birthday party they will never forget. Plymouth Historical Museum staff, inspired by the movies of the same name, created this magical evening, where children discover that the characters within the Museum come alive after hours.
Kids begin the delightful evening in the lower level meeting room, where they gather and socialize before sitting down for a dinner of pizza or subs and drinks while watching one of the "Night at the Museum" movies. When the show ends, a reenactor meets them and their magical journey begins. They are greeted on the pretense of touring the Museum, but when presented with a personalized "Tablet of Akmenrah," they discover that not all is as it seems. This tablet is a recreation of the Egyptian tablet used in the movies that brings the Museum characters to life, which the children soon realize seemingly works in this Museum as well. 
The Museum is filled with reenactors silently waiting for the kids to bring them to life with the tablet. Kids could discover a Roman soldier dressed in full battle gear or Civil War soldiers preparing for war, or women wearing big hoop skirts and fancy dresses. There may even be a teenager from the 1950s hanging about, waiting to be awakened so she can dance and sing to her favorite rock and roll music. Anyone can be discovered at the Museum, and children will enjoy the living history. Each character chats with the kids about a slice of history so children might learn a thing or two while they are having fun at the party."'s very cool.
And that's exactly what happened on June 9th for a very excited 12 year old girl and a group of her friends. be a youth in school today...
So, would you like to see how well it went?
Look no further:
The young birthday celebrators  walk past a mannequin of Amelia Earhart.
Wait---that is a mannequin, right?
Amelia Mary Earhart was an American aviation pioneer and author. She was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean.
I was pleasantly surprised that the girls knew who Earhart was.
Kudos to their parents! 

Clara Barton after coming to life.
Clarissa "Clara" Harlowe Barton was a pioneering 
nurse who founded the American Red Cross. 
She was a hospital nurse in the American Civil War, 
a teacher, and patent clerk.

Next up was Abraham Lincoln
I would hope that you know Lincoln served as our 16th President, from March 1861, a month before the Civil War began, until his assassination in April 1865, a few days after the war had ended.

Jacob Howard was a U.S. Representative and U.S. Senator from the state of Michigan during and after the American Civil War.
Howard is credited with working closely with President Lincoln in drafting and passing the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, which abolished slavery.
My friend Dave, here, has been portraying Howard for nearly 20 years.

Hmmm...this guy looks familiar... 
Here I am as Paul Revere, the silversmith, engraver, early industrialist, and Patriot during the American Revolution. "I" am best known for alerting the colonial militia to the approach of British forces before the battles of Lexington and Concord.
I have to tell you a story about what occurred during my little speech. I mentioned to the girls that I did not yell out, "The British are coming!" during the night of April 18, 1775. I instead told the people, "The Regulars are coming out!"
One young lady politely held up her hand and said, "My history book said that you said, "The British are coming!"
I smiled and responded with, "Well, young lady, your history book is wrong."
She certainly didn't know how to take that, but, well, better we get accuracy over false information, right?
All in good fun, and all for the love of history!

Inventor Thomas Edison created such great innovations as the telegraph, phonograph, the first commercially practical incandescent electric light bulb, alkaline storage batteries and the Kinetograph (a camera for motion pictures).
This reenactor really did a fine job in his attempt to look like the great inventor.

I don't believe there are too many who do not know who Laura Ingalls Wilder was: a writer known for the Little House on the Prairie series of children's books released from 1932 to 1943 which were based on her childhood in a settler and pioneer family.
I've seen adult women dress "prairie" and try to act like a young Miss Ingalls, and it just doesn't come off. Fortunately, here was a Mrs. Wilder who told her story from a more 
adult point of view. She did a fine job indeed.

All of us historical mannequins - Edison, Earhart, Howard, Lincoln, Barton, 
Revere, and Ingalls/Wilder - posed with the birthday celebrators.
What a varied history lesson these girls received!
And it surely beats the stodgy old ways of my youth - - 

I greatly enjoy taking part in these "Night at the Museum" events. Yeah...we might only give a five minute glimpse at the life of the historic character we portray, but we certainly pack a lot into that short time.
Thank you, by the way, to the Plymouth Historical Museum for allowing me to use their pictures to illustrate this post. The top pic of Dave and I and the Clara Barton pic are two that I took. The rest I am using courtesy of the Plymouth Historical Museum.
Click HERE to check out the website of the Museum.

Until next time, see you in time.

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