Sunday, January 15, 2017
THE JOYS, BENEFITS & SURPRISES OF TRAVELING WITH CHILDREN
by Wayne & Carla Anderson
In the holiday season we asked our four daughters what memories they recall about the benefits, fun, struggles and surprises about traveling with us until they finished high school.
They all stressed how much they learned about how people in various parts of our country and the rest of the world lived and had different customs.
Jerilyn, our oldest daughter, especially enjoyed the year we lived three months each in four countries where she heard many stories in the museuShe did feel that "visits to any more cathedrals were more than a bit too much"---so we listened and adapted.
We were still in the days then of flat tires, running out of gas and emergency bathroom stops, sometimes in the nearest woods. When Debra, daughter No. 2, heard a long ago friend say, "If you don't like inconvenience, don't travel," she laughed and said that "traveling was a challenge that helped me improve my problem solving skills. I certainly learned how to use a map in planning trips--long before GPSs became available ."
When Rosalyn, born exactly six years later than Debra, said that "Traveling broadened my mind about the differences in how other people lived. I mostly had a great time, but I did have some concerns." When she went to the third grade for three months in a small town in England, she missed a few recess times because she refused to eat the liver and cabbage offered. She was also concerned that "I may lose my best friend if I am gone a year!"
When her sister Stephanie was in the first grade there, she was a little surprised to be called a Yankee. A rule that surprised her was that girls had to wear skirts, not slacks, unless the weather was bitter cold, but she coped rather easily.
When we were taking a long walk in the woods, she sat down in the middle of the path and said, "I'm really getting tired of getting toughened in." She came back to the U.S. with the cutest English accent.
Both sisters enjoyed being surrounded by students-- a nice break from being home schooled as they lived in four countries in that year learning about Europe.
Traveling with children gives them an opportunity to see and do things in the world in a way present digital equipment does not allow. They may hold all the knowledge in the world in the palm of their hand, and be connected instantly with all of their friends but that kind of lifestyle does not include the reality of skiing down a mountain, canoeing on a lake or cooking a meal over an open fire.
We discovered the joys of traveling with children with our first two daughters when we lived in Maryland on Chesapeake Bay. In our free time we explored the east coast camping in a tent, cooking our food on a gas burner and bonding us as a family.
When we returned to Columbia in 1963, we shortly added two more daughters and decided to add a travel trailer. We started exploring the west: Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon and Colorado with its ghost towns and skiing sites.
Wayne was able to take sabbaticals for a year each in 1972-73 and 1978-79 and several summers to teach for the U.S. Air Force in Europe-- eight different villages in five different countries.
We took folk marches with the natives in Germany and Italy and had them as next door neighbors. In Italy we only had our two youngest daughters with us who were then 12 and 10. Italy was their favorite country, because of the food, the friendly people and its multiple attractions especially Rome, Venice and Florence. Jerilyn and Debra were able to join us to see some of the Italian sites.
During this time we were also still traveling to visit family around the country and attending family reunions--one with our relatives in Sweden.
We continue our travels with family members. Rosalyn's children took a Road Scholar week with us in Northern Minnesota where we took the ropes course, canoed and learned how to navigate with a compass in the woods. Stephanie's twin daughters have traveled with us frequently to Tennessee sites.
We are looking forward to continuing traveling as long as we can and having a Merry Christmas with our extended family.
In Cork, Ireland we all had a chance to kiss the Blarney Stone, which gives you a special power with words.
In Holland we pretend to be an old fashioned Dutch family
With two of our daughters at the home my father was born in, in Sweden
Feeding the birds in Venice in St. Marks Square
In the early days we traveled by trailer
Pompeii exhibit offers a glance at ancient life frozen in time
As part of the exhibit, several casts are shown of people and animals in the last positions they held when Mount Vesuvius erupted Aug. 24, 79 A.D. Here, the cast of a man with a child in his arms is displayed.
One of the most magical happenings in this world is that nature both can destroy a piece of land dramatically and preserve it in some way that astonishes us later.
It was this feat that fascinated us as we explored “POMPEII: The Exhibition,” which will run through spring at Union Station in Kansas City.
Even before entering, we were given a taste of what to expect. The hallway walls toward the entrance featured reproductions of paintings and frescos that once adorned walls of the Pompeii Romans, a level of art sophistication not to be achieved again for centuries.
In the waiting area, a short film showed the comfortable lifestyle of richer citizens and their complete lack of foresight what was to happen to their city and its 11,000 people on Aug. 24, 79 A.D, when Mount Vesuvius erupted.
The exhibit doors opened and we were introduced to first-century Roman Empire life. The exhibit’s first three quarters details Roman citizens’ lives — made more comfortable by the large number of slaves taken captive as Rome conquered Europe and Africa. Slaves earned their freedom by selling their services as cooks, doctors and gladiators.
The area’s soil was richer than in the rest of Italy, enabling a steady diet of fruits, vegetables, fish and other seafood.
One poster on display shared a recipe that used a favorite seasoning of Pompeii citizens, garum. Made from fermented crushed tuna and the intestines of moray eels in salt, the seasoning was enjoyed throughout the Roman Empire.
Artifacts loaned from the Naples National Archaeological Museum in Italy illustrated the Pompeii artisans’ sophistication. Original weapons, lamps, jugs, furniture, medical instruments and tools used in their everyday life were shown. The fine work on the clay and metal lamps, and an accompanying audio tour also detailed the items and lifestyle of Pompeii citizens.
As part of the exhibit, several casts are shown of people and animals in the last positions they held when Mount Vesuvius erupted Aug. 24, 79 A.D. Here, the cast of a dog is displayed as he defends the doorway to a house.
Romans flaunted their wealth with elegant frescos on walls, mosaics covering floors and comfortable dining areas with sofas. They had a rule that dinner was always taken in groups of at least three and never more than nine, a tradition modeled after their relationships with their many gods.
A wall-sized film showed drone footage of Pompeii, giving us a good idea of the size and condition of the present site that had been forgotten soon after the destruction. It was only 250 years ago that the site became a tourist destination.
Another film showed how Mount Vesuvius erupted — the 24 hours of destruction began with earth shaking and rumbling, followed by spilling ash. Later, lava and more ash flowed, followed by rocks, gas and smoke. The finale was a dead city buried under 13 to 20 feet of volcanic ash and pumice, burying the site for 1,500 years.
We walked into the room of the remains, where casts have captured the last moments of several Pompeii citizens and animals. The eruption happened so fast that people were captured while moving, creating long-lasting images of their final movements on Earth.
When experts excavated the site, they used plaster to fill the voids in the ash layers that held the bodies in the positions they were in when they died. We saw a man on his back holding up a child, another sitting and covering his face with his hands, and a dog curled as if ready to defend the door he was guarding.
The section also covered the gladiators of Pompeii, who seemed to function under less deadly rules of combat than those in Rome. There were fewer battles to the death and, if a gladiator was good enough, at some point he could buy his freedom.
Other rooms introduced us to some of the secrets of the city, including prostitution, both legal and widespread. Many men preferred prostitutes since they often married for financial reasons, family connections and to have children. The prostitutes largely were slaves, and pornography was common.
Watching nature destroy an entire city saddened us but learning the lifestyle of the ancient citizens was extremely interesting.
In 1979, when our family was stationed in Italy with the U.S. Air Force, we visited Pompeii and Wayne was allowed, for a small fee, into a room where scenes of intercourse filled the walls.
Our guide said all women, including Carla and her sister, were considered too sensitive to see such scenes.
On the door of the Union Station gallery a warning was placed, telling families about what they were about to see and suggesting children should not be allowed in. Carla laughed that now women were allowed — another glass-ceiling broken.
We enjoyed the “frozen in time” exhibits at both Union Station and in Pompeii, where 2.6 million people visit every year to see one of Italy’s main attractions.
Carla Anderson stands in front of a mosaic from Pompeii
A wall sized street scene from present day Pompeii
Friday, December 16, 2016
MOUNTS STATE PARK: ANDERSON INDIANA
Early one morning we enjoyed walking the trails through the mounds area at the beautiful Mounds State Park, just outside of Anderson, Ind.
The Adena tribe, the earliest Native Americans to construct mounds here, were primarily hunter-gatherers, but they also planted crops such as squash, gourds, sunflowers and maize.
At the large Great Mound, the centerpiece created about 160 BC, plaques explain its astronomical alignment related to learning the timing of the solstices and equinoxes.
The Giant Mound has astronomical alignments to time solstices and equinoxes
The mounds were community gathering centers where religious rituals were performed and burials took place. A mound was usually built as part of a burial ritual, in which the earth of the mound was piled immediately atop the ashes of a burned mortuary building. In honor of the dead, tools, weapons, pottery and other clay items were involved with the burning and were buried with the dead.
Some sources suggest that the Hopewell culture replaced the Adena around 100 BC. Kelly, a state park ranger who is an archeologist, told us that others are still working to understand the relationship between the Adena and Hopewell. At this point they were not sure whether they were continuous or separate
The Hopewell tribe continued the tradition of creating mounds, but were more sophisticated than the Adena in making objects. The Hopewell disappeared around 500 AD, with no clear explanation of what happened to them
They were both agriculturists and hunter-gatherers, but what was so remarkable was their trading range around the continent.
They had goods such as bear teeth and obsidian from the Rocky Mountains, mica from the Carolinas, seashells from the Gulf of Mexico, and copper from the upper Great Lakes. Since they had no form of transportation but their feet, it meant some of them had to do a tremendous amount of walking.
This also suggests that there was a great exchange of knowledge between the different Native American tribes and this allowed for some real advances in living styles as the knowledge from different cultures were exchanged.
The Adena were skilled potters and sculptors, making pottery and small effigy sculptures out of clay and stone, and bowls and other household utensils from wood and stone. The Hopewell stone and clay items had a refinement that indicated their sculptors and potters were more skilled than the Adena.
We had previously been impressed by how many other Indian tribes in what is now the United States had constructed mounds copying those of the Adena-Hopewell tribes. The largest we have visited are the Cahokia Mounds outside of St. Louis, but we have visited mounds in Georgia, Ohio, Iowa, Missouri and now Indiana.
At one point when Europeans first arrived in America there may have been thousands of mounds, but many mounds have been leveled for farm land or raided for artifacts. This area was saved from destruction by the Bronnenberg family, who preserved the area for future generations. Their two-story brick farmhouse is open for visitors.
We were impressed with the scenery along the wooden boardwalk that took us around the park and back to the visitor’s center that has a small but well-chosen set of displays on the wild animal and plant life of the area.
Kelly told us the park had been started in 1930, but the visitor’s center and display were not added until the 1990s. She took us into the glassed viewing room, overlooking a rich range of plants and scenery seated us on comfortable couches and opened herself to questions.
A variety of bird houses were visible, some of which she said were for bats, who use the local trees for their resting place. Kelly said the bats are endangered and steps are being taken to preserve them. Humming birds were just returning to the area when we visited in the spring--an especially good time to enjoy the setting and learn some history.
A walking trail goes through the mounds area
A viewing room in the visitor's center lets you watch different birds and bats in the area
Thursday, December 15, 2016
Iowa State History Museum
The sheer size of the State Historical Museum of Iowa in Des Moines impressed us. One building holds the state archives, while the other holds one of the most complete and interesting state history museums we have visited. Built in 1987, it was ahead of its time with a modern design including a large reception area lit by skylights. There is talk of reducing the size of the 234,000-square-foot museum, as well as replacing one wall and stopping the skylights from leaking when it rains.
The Iowa State History Museum is the largest we have visited.
There’s a variety of displays on the three floors, some of which is expected in a state museum, such as a mastodon, relics from the American Indians who originally inhabited the area, Civil War weapons and artifacts and an excellent collection of items used by early white settlers in Iowa.
What was more unexpected were the exhibits you don’t typically see at state museums: Hollywood in the Heartland, Riding Through History, Saving Our Stuff and one exhibit featuring a reproduction of a coal mine.
Hollywood in the Heartland featured a series of cases showcasing actors who came from Iowa but most of the space is devoted to investigating and showing the influence of some major films made about Iowa that reflect well on the state. Each section includes seats, a large screen showing excerpts of the movies along with comments and a sound system that restricts the sound only to the seating area. The films highlighted during our visit were “State Fair,” “Bridges of Madison County,” “Music Man” and “Field of Dreams.”
We stepped into a 3,000-square-foot area with a variety of old, new and classic bicycles. As it turns out, Iowans are taken with the early days of bicycle riding and claim to be the bicycle trails capital of the world. One of the races in the state, the Good Life Gravel Gran Fondo, includes a 340-mile contest over gravel and dirt roads that must be finished in 34 hours, and the route is kept as a surprise to the riders. Part of the exhibit includes a film about that race and the Des Moines Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa.
In the Saving Our Stuff exhibit, a collection of material damaged by water from floods, mold, time and other factors were on display, and a film was shown depicting people working to restore various damaged objects. We watched as an artist restored a painting that had been damaged in a flood, and in one display, received instructions about how to prepare a wedding dress for storage so it would not suffer the consequences of time.
Turning to an exhibit exploring the balance between using the state’s resources and preserving them, a darkened area gave us the feel of being in a coal mine as two mannequins stood in as workers bent over in tight conditions. A film also was shown about how coal mining in Iowa had been a major source of soft coal. The film, which was made when mines still existed in the state, talk about both the danger and the special pleasure that comes from being a miner.
Given the dangers and health hazards of the job, the idea of job satisfaction was a bit difficult for us to understand.
Another amenity of the museum is a small but pleasant restaurant on the third floor with both indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the Des Moines skyline.
An Iowa State History Museum mastodon
Iowa claims to be the bicycle trails capital of the world.
Living History Museums: An Overview
Throughout the U.S. my wife Carla and I have been able to visit a bountiful number of museums and historical sites that capture the history of our country, finding them engaging and educational experiences.
For sixty-four years we have traveled extensively, even more often as we are now both retired psychologists. For the past nineteen years I has written a weekly Venture Bound travel column for the Columbia Daily Tribune. For the last ten years Carla has been co-author.
One of the benefits of this kind of traveling is that adults along with children (we have four) learn more about our history--the struggles and the progress we have made to reach this point in history-- and also to appreciate in many ways how fortunate we are in living at this time.
At Conner Prairie we interacted with authentic member of the Delaware tribe who spoke the original Delaware language.
The staff at living history museums strive for authenticity as they drop us back into the past. Many of the museums are original buildings, often transported in from around the state at considerable expense. They are filled with original furniture and tools, and if more artifacts are needed, they are made on the grounds using original techniques. Most living history museums limit themselves to one period in history.
We are impressed by the variety in the approaches taken by the staffs to entertain and teach us. We especially enjoy talking with re-enactors who take on the characteristics and dress of someone from the past and discuss with us what their lives were like--what they were proud of, what problems they were struggling with, and what dishes, tools, and equipment they used.
We enjoyed seeing how the children were treated, for example, the Conner Prairie Interactive History Park in Indiana, where children can drop back to the 1830s to dip candles, play with hoops, and get a chance to pump an old fashioned lathe to help a wood worker make table legs. Children can pet the animals, the only jarring feature from the future was the hand sanitizer to use after the petting.
In Old Bedford, Pennsylvania, we went back to the 1820s where we discussed burial customs with the cabinet maker, watched the pharmacist mix his meds for the day and attended a church service.
Most of the museums focus on a particular time period. There is a great deal of interest among over 50-year-olds in studying their family history. They are able to get a very clear picture of how those ancestors lived and the kind of problems they faced.
We were delighted to talk to the costumed re-enactors from different periods of time at the American Frontier Culture in Staunton, Virginia. Farm buildings had been brought in from five foreign countries and showed how their cultures and way of life converged to create an American farm of the 1850s.
Eight state history museums or sites, on the other hand, presented a broad view of the states' histories using a variety of modern techniques for educating and entertaining visitors. Most states have magnificent displays of original artifacts often in striking new buildings that also include the states' historical archives.
At various sites we saw costumed manikins who could talk, listened to audio tours, watched short movies that captured real events in the state's history, and saw newspaper clippings, posters, and even an occasional holograph that made the figures more real than 3D.
For more recent history we are now presented with oral recordings and movies made since the twenties that inform us about life in the depression, laborers revolting against management and the problems with race relations.
Most state history museums take us back in time to at least the time of Native Americans, and some like the Indiana State History Museum go back in time to the development of coal and a museum in Arizona goes back to the age of the dinosaur.
Other history museums took us to a specific critical event in our history such as the development of the atomic bomb at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Brown vs. the Board of Education in Topeka, Kansas. These also use a multitude of devices and methods to bring us into a sense of the past so we leave feeling we really understand what happened there.
Some like BitterSweet Cabin Village in Kentucky and The Pioneer Women Museum in Oklahoma confine themselves to a narrow range of history. The John Deere Museum in Illinois and the McCormick Farm in Virginia deal with a specific inventions that changed the nature of agriculture in America.
Making History Real for Children
Experiences with people and life from the past will broaden a child's ability to understand the world. Classroom experiences are frequent in living history museums, but they are often brief being no more than an hour of two of what the classrooms were like in the past.
One of the best we've seen was in Oklahoma where the children came for the day, dressed, as their teachers did, in turn of the century clothes, with a home-packed lunch. Boys were seated on one side of the room and the girls on the other. They spent the whole day in class learning the subject matter of the time with the teacher using the tools and methods of the time.
At other places we have met with re-enactors who stayed in role, Abraham Lincoln, Harry Truman, Andrew Johnson and many common people who could tell us about their time period.
For these contacts the children need some preparation so they know who they are dealing with and can ask the appropriate questions. It helps if these experiences are intergraded into their classroom studies. Actually getting involved and doing something is better than watching someone do it, and watching someone do something is better than reading about it.
We have visited one excellent site where children lived for five or six days to get an immersion experience in what life was like for their ancestors, but we will probably talk about that in another book.
We have been very pleased about what we have learned by traveling to living history museums and historical sites.
At Conner Prairie we watched a re-enactor, make moccasins. As we admired the size and quality of a beaver skin he was working with, he explained the process the Native Americans used to prepare it.
At the Ark Encounter a manikin Noah tells the visitor about his work.
Monday, December 5, 2016
McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture
The McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville was one of those experiences that filled us with awe at the quality of the historical artifacts and offbeat displays that often elicited smiles.
We got both a bit of shock and a chuckle at the exhibition, Human Origins: Searching for Our Fossil Ancestors, where on a large TV screen we saw the face of a primitive ape- like creature slowly evolve into that of a modern human.
Some scientists in the overview noted that hominids-- our ancestors--existed six million years ago.
One impactful display had on one side casts of archaic homo sapiens skulls and a skeleton. On the other side were the skeleton of the one-and half-million-year-old Turkana Boy and the three- million-year-old skeleton of Lucy.
A reconstructed portion of the 17,000-year-old cave painting at Lascaux, France on the ceiling of the exhibition room with its colorful animals and symbols added to drama of our experience.
We were also charmed by the Archaeology and the Native Peoples of Tennessee exhibition that is based on 65 years of research by archaeologists from the University of Tennessee as they trace 15,000 years of Native American life in this area. What most impressed us were the five murals arranged around the 3,200-square-foot gallery that showed the different cultural periods giving us touching views of their lives.
Native people were here in the age of mammoths
It was also fun to see the displays built into the floor of an earth oven and fragments of tools of the time. We also saw large displays of flint objects we had never heard of before. One display noted: "This rich collection of ceremonial artistry is known worldwide as the Duck River Cache. The swords, maces, hooks and discs were not used as weapons, but as symbols of leadership or authority, perhaps ceremonially as seen in the gorget in this case."
We were surprised to find a small Ancient Egypt exhibit that included a coffin that had belonged to a priestess and some animal mummies. In one of the cases were hair combs, shoes and writing implements, and on a wall nearby a copy of the Rosetta Stone.
More expected in a museum in Tennessee was the exhibition of the Civil War in Knoxville that focuses its on the Battle of Fort Sanders and East Tennessee with artifacts provided by families in the area and items excavated from the battlefield.
Other displays covered Decorative Arts from Around the World, and Freshwater Mussels. The museum is in a new building and while small by museum standards it compactness lends charm to the varigated exhibits.
Parking and entrance are free, and the day we were there very few visitors joined us. As usual for museums of this type we saw it has great potential as a learning experience for grade school children as well as adults.
The museum is accredited by American Association of Museums and an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution.
Stone tools of the period served many uses
The Farm Girl
On a recent visit to my daughter, Stephanie Stegall, in Chattanooga, Tenn., I found myself unusually relaxed and having flashbacks to my childhood. What could be causing this unusual reaction?
The settings seemed very different, at least superficially. My childhood house was small, maybe 800 square feet. My daughter's house is 4,200 square feet if you don't count the basement area where she has set up a gym. We had a hand pump for water, and I was five before we got electricity. At my daughters home we had all of the modern conveniences.
Sitting on the back porch watching the cows graze, it hit me. My daughter, despite being extremely busy as a pediatrician, spent much of her time at home doing what my mother did as a farm wife. The similarities crowded in on me. It was obvious, coming here to visit was a "going home" experience.
Watching the cows brought back memories of childhood.
The cows I was watching were beef cattle, the one at home was our milk cow, but a cow never the less.
Stephanie has a chicken coup and a fenced in area her husband had built for her where she had a dozen chickens of three breeds, who lay different colored eggs that she collected regularly from their nests
As a child I collected eggs from a much larger coop that had several dozen chickens, mostly leghorns with a few Rhode Island reds.
When I saw my daughter watering the variety of plants and flowers around the house, she was using a fancy hose that sent out a variety of sprays. My mother used a pail with water from the pump for the same purpose.
And a garden? Ours was large with enough food to can for the winter; my daughter's was small with just enough variety to be used as the new vegetables came in. By now the similarities were washing over me.
Animals? At home we always had a cat, dog, canary, and a small bowl of fish. Here I see three dogs, two cats, and a large aquarium of multicolored fish.
Stephanie's house sits on 65 acres with a great view with deer, coyotes, and a multitude of birds We sat next to open country with wild animals as part of our scenery.
Why had it taken so long for me to make the connection? I guess most of us don't usually think of visiting a daughter as a going home experience; it is when she visits you that she should be having a going home experience and having flashbacks into her childhood.
I'm a strong believer that certain behaviors run in families and see certain talents that showed up in aunts, uncles, and cousins. Artistic and musical talent are common, storytelling is frequent, but the farm wife had been so common because that's what women did, that I had not considered it to have any kind of genetic base. Yet here was my daughter replicating her grandmother's behavior, a woman she had never met.
Stephanie had shown a need to do this as a child, but received inadequate training from me. We tried gardening and raised the smallest tomatoes and corn I had ever seen. Our fish tank was a death sentence for the fish we put in it. Farming even in our backyard was not my thing. Freed from my supervision she found she had the talent.
Recognizing the family connection, I passed up a chance to gather a couple more Venture Bound stories and just told myself--relax, you're home again.
Gathering eggs was part of my mother and my daughter's life styles