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Mexico Historical Society hosts MVMS students
Last June, the Wills Homestead Museum of the Mexico Historical Society hosted busloads of six graders from the Mountain Valley Middle School.
MEXICO -- Last June, the Wills Homestead Museum of the Mexico Historical Society hosted busloads of six graders from the Mountain Valley Middle School.
Students, accompanied by teachers, were formed in groups and were guided throughout the museum house and barn.
One group went in the barn, where Norman Vashaw took time to show and explain the use of old barn tools, a privy, horse stalls, the cordwood saw, double runner slad, and miscellaneous tools.
An early model computer, shortwave radio, television set, record player and radio, donated by Leo Dyer of Radio Shack, made up a separate display.
Robert Daigle led a group to the upstairs loft in the barn to a classroom that has been duplicated with student desks, a teacher desk, an American flag, and a potbellied stove in the corner. Many trophies, yearbooks, uniforms, old photos of sports teams, awards and Pinto banners are on display in this room.
The students were fascinated by the typewriters and were curious about how this machine could print. The vintage books that were on display at each student desk throughout the class were also a point of great interest.
Marge Harlow demonstrated the use of old utensils in the old fashioned kitchen, located upstairs in the main house. She showed them an apron made out of grain bags and other items she grew up with. Not one of the students could identify the sale cellars.
Marge explained the use of ice sign that is displayed near the ice box. Up until the early 1940's, ice boxes were used to keep food cold. When you needed ice, you would put the ice sign in the window and the iceman would stop at your home and deliver a cake of ice for a sum. The ice would melt in a couple of days and the ice sign would go up in the window once again.
Millie Vashaw walked with students down memory lane in the upstairs parlor that features needlepoint furniture made by Mr. and Mrs. Robert Gogan and an exhibit of the Gogan family, who owned this house at one time and have donated many of its furnishings.
The bedroom furnishings include a baby crib, a portrait of Donald Haines as a baby, as well as an antique hammock that he had slept it. The display of vintage hats on the dresser were a big hit with the girls.
Irene Hutchinson worked with her group in the genealogy and resource room. She explained to them how to trace their family tree and she also passed out genealogy forms. She showed them the shelves lined with acid-free boxes that hold the history of many Mexico families and the bookcase that contains books, some written by local authors that can be used for research.
Irene pointed out to the students the photography area that was set up to take pictures for the Maine Memory Network. Students and teachers said they had been on line and viewed exhibits and photos on Maine Memory Network. One of Irene's favorite exhibits is one that she created for the Maine Memory Network, "A Man's Life in a Suitcase," the story of John Barry of Mexico, ME.
Lorraine Legere accompanied her group to the dining room, featuring a dining room set complete with china cabinet, hutch and table, a family heirloom donated by Bea Shaw. A photograph album of the late Dr. Victor Abbott family is open on the hutch that is covered by a runner of fancy work done by Elizabeth Abbott.
The next room the group entered is called the spritiual room as they are exhibits and artifacts of area churches. One of the prized objects on display is an oil painting of the Congregational Church painted by Bernadette Arsenault, a longtime resident of Mexico.
A piano stands against the windows and a fireplace with a mantle takes up a corner. Opposite the fireplace is a four-tier unit with old cameras filling up each shelf.
Oh, the questions about cameras! Nothing like the phone cameras many of the students have. They had fun with the old cameras.
As the group went into the reception room, the question was asked, "Where was Ridlonville located in Mexico?" No one knew the answer. The exhibits on Ridlonville proved to be an excellent tool to look over and discuss a part of Mexico's past that over a period of time has been forgotten.
Next, the students viewed an exhibit featuring veterans buried in foreign countries in WWI and WWII, as well as an exhibit of Fred Richards, who served in WWI and returned to live out most of his life in Mexico.
The final exhibit was of John Barry, who was previously views by students on Maine Memory Network. This concluded the first round of three students tours scheduled.
By 2 p.m., as the last student got on the bus, the tour guides took a deep breath and all agree it had been a good day. The children were a pleasure to have in the museum and were truly interested in the history of the Town of Mexico and of the generations that lived in Mexico before them.
Lorraine Legere noted, "Our hope is that this small introduction to the goal of remembering and preserving the past will remain in their memory and that someday they may become the tour guides and the 'keepers of the past.'"