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Kids and History

August 5, 2018

Road Scholar July 2018 (2)

“Wind up the Apple Tree – hold on tight!     Wind it all day and wind it all night!”

Fourteen giggling kids ages 9 – 13 formed a line – tallest kid to shortest – and proceeded to wind themselves up. They were playing a game that pioneer farm children who lived in this place many years ago might have played. The kids – and their grandparents – were part of an Inter-Generational Road Scholar program that was exploring Whidbey Island. As a presenter/performer, I was introducing them to Ebey’s Landing, the Ebey family and life as a pioneer.

That morning at the motel, they learned a bit about Rebecca Ebey and her long trek from Missouri to Whidbey with her two sons, Eason and Ellison, in 1851. They learned that over 120 years later, many of the lands, farms, and forests of those early pioneers were preserved: at Ebey’s Landing. Later, we played Cat’s Cradle and taught each other string tricks and fooled around with simple wooden toys that Eason and Ellison may have whittled and then played with. Then, we took a bus out to the Reserve.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the wind off Admiralty Inlet wasn’t too strong. As we walked along the trail to the Jacob Ebey Farmhouse, I talked a bit about Whidbey Island farming – then and now. Did they know that Whidbey Island – back in the 1920’’s – produced more wheat per acre than any other place in the US? That- today- 50% of the world supply of cabbage seed is grown right here? The grandparents were suitably impressed; the kids were busy chasing one another and goofing off. But everyone listened as I described the back-breaking work of clearing the land and the fears that first winter when the potatoes froze.

Then the mood changed as I taught them the game. They looked a little foolish, but I could tell they were game. The grandparents joined in the singing as the little line wound up tighter and tighter…

Road Scholar July 2018 (3)

“Stir up the dumplings —  the pot boils over!”

Laughing and lurching back and forth, the kids unwound themselves – and managed to keep the line intact. Their grand-parents and I applauded.

We finished the session with a group shot on the steps of Jacob’s farmhouse. As cameras clicked and kids tried out silly poses, I thought about Jacob Ebey. His wife Sarah bore him twelve children, but only seven made it into adulthood. I could almost imagine him peering out the window at this bunch – with a big smile on his face.

Road Scholar July 2018

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