Home School Life Journal

Home School Life Journal
"Let us strive to make each moment beautiful."
Saint Francis DeSales
painting by Katie Bergenholtz

A Narration of a Field Trip to Londontown, Maryland

(This is a portion of a narrative Katie wrote about her trip to Londontown, Maryland. Londontown is a colonial period port town that gives tours to school groups and the public. We went to their high school homeschool day.)

 
After our initial greetings, we went into the next room where she showed us, and we tried on, all sorts of clothes. The docent said that both boys and girls dressed in dresses, until the age of six or so. Then she showed us a picture of two kids dressed in dresses and asked us to guess who was the boy. I had a feeling right from the start that child on the left was the boy, and it turned out I was right (and also turned out that the little kids who she usually gives tours to often don’t choose that one.) The docent told us the brighter the color the clothes were, the richer the person was. She also told us that buttons and lace also said that a person was rich. Then the docent made the other girl (that was in the roleplay class with me) put on a very fancy, very bright, and very lacy dress, which of course meant that she was rich. Then the docent said that probably no one at Londontown would wear anything like this because most people here were poor, including the people who owned the house. But she did mention that Miss O’ Hara would wear something like this so until she was undressed we called the other girl "Miss O’ Hara." The docent showed us many sets of clothes but the next thing I remember was the hunter clothes. It reminded me of the Renaissance Fair I once went to with my family. The clothes were made of skins, I think, and wheat colored fringe. The docent asked me reach in a bag made of the same sort of stuff and get out some sort of skin (turned out to be rabbit.) And so we talked about how the hunter would catch it and trade it for things. The docent then brought out a red dress, not as fancy, but still pretty fancy, which meant pretty rich. I was dressed in this one; underneath what I think was called a petticoat, then the dress came, and on the head was a bonnet. The only difference was that the girl had a sun hat and I didn’t. I had a doll, but the docent explained that it wasn’t a playing doll, it was a "fashion doll" and and so although I wasn’t the designer, I did make dresses. You see a person would come into my store and look at the dolls and say “Oh I want that!” and I would make that dress for them. I never knew that before and it was cool to learn that! Really cool! So, after undressing we went downstairs.

The last stop we came to the kitchen down stairs. There the docent showed us some things like a mannequin made to look exactly like a slave, food to prepare to make meals with, a fireplace [the 6th one today!] and shelves full of items. She especially showed me a candle mold, wax and the berries to make it smell good. One other thing she did to me was to put a yolk with buckets on me and told us all about how slaves would be
carrying them to the river and then back home. I gotta tell you they were sure heavy!

The next thing we did was "Seaport" and the docent teaching it was really nice. He talked a whole lot but, hey, it was kind of his job, I guess. Anyway he talked about why we (English) sailed over and about the King getting something in return for sailing us over. He also talked about the Trading Triangle and he had us act it out. He had me be England and he had another girl represent London Town. Now she sailed over and traded her tobacco…for my teapot. Then she sailed back. It then became complicated by again having her sail over and trade her tobacco for something of mine, in this case, a Bible, but this time she sailed over to our my mom (who had taken her mom to represent slaves) to trade, of course leaving my mom with the Bible, taking the slaves back with her. And so that showed us the Trading Triangle.

Another thing we did was make rope because the docent said that the people of London Town made good strong rope so ships could sail and trade. The twine we had was, or supposedly was, made out of flax and we (or really the man) hooked the twine through two small boards of wood with hooks and loops. I held the one end and the another girl held the other end where she wound the twine together into a rope with a metal loop on the other end. The grown-ups helped by making sure it didn't get tangled, and while we did this he told us that the little kids did this kind of work. Pretty soon we had a rope. Mom tied two knots in the middle of it so we could cut it in half and each of us could bring a piece home. Then he showed us a big, real rope, which would have been made out of the little ones we had. We had a tug of war with the man and he told us that when he did this for the younger kids, he’d play tunes for them; ones the sailors sang that helped sailors haul up the ropes. -Katie



After lunch we did "Archeology," where we panned for artifacts. The docent told us to shake the pan or table-thing really hard to loosen up the soil. I was the first one to do it because I volunteered. Then the rest of us got in and pushed the soil through the grate and picked up anything we saw that was savable, like iron bits or oyster shells (but we saved only the bottom half of the oyster shell, not top half because there were so many), pottery or anything that’s man made or handled by man, even. It was important to save the oyster shells because it told us that they ate alot of oysters there and we saved the bottom half because they could determine how old the oysters were from that part of the oyster. We found a bunch of stuff and it was really fun.
Then after I got tried of that part, I moved on to cleaning the finds. They had buckets and dishpans of dirty water and toothbrushes set up. At the bottom of this murky water was mud and artifacts. The lady told us to pull out the artifacts and scrub them down with a toothbrush. I did so, and it was fun.
The next, and last, activity was "Cooking and Chores of the House." Unlike the first house we went to, this one was tiny and looked like, from the inside, that it had just two, or three rooms and an upstairs. This was unlike the other house, (which had the master room, a tavern, two other rooms, a kitchen and another room downstairs and an upstairs with rooms, I guess.) Of course the other house was an Inn, and owned by the richest man in Londontown and this was a typical house.
We saw the garden where they had beans and squash and herbs and all sorts of plants growing. We talked about the Three Sisters, (which I knew but didn't say because I was shy) which is a way of planting in which corn, beans and squash are all planted in the same area. The corn grows up and then, I think it’s the beans that need the corn's help to grow up their stalks, then the squash needs the corn and beans because they help give it some shade. The corn and beans need the squashes to help to weed out weeds. Coincidently, you need all three to make a protein…and the Indians knew all that and taught it to us. Then the docent brought us inside where we made corn pones. A boy knocked the kernels off the corn cobs and I pounded the kernels, or at least tried to. As we did, she explained many different things about them. Then it came to the corn pones and no one wanted to do them except me, so I volunteered. The docent told me to take the corn flour that she pored into the bowl, and mix it with the fat or lard. She added warm water to the mix so the lard could warm up and melt a little and be easier to mix. As it mixed, she told us Indians again taught us how to make this and they called them "journey cakes." The Indians would put them in their bags and eat them on their journeys because they lasted forever. Then the docent told me to make it into a hamburger, which made me nervous because I’m not good with hamburgers but I did my best. Then she put on a pan beside the hearth behind us, put come coals underneath and told us that this is how they cooked it. -Katie

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