Some North Clay Middle School Students received a special visit from residents at Cloverleaf Nursing Home and Holly Hill Health Care.
Students in Paul Harbour's sixth-grade English classes have been reading "The Secret School," and Jennie Mishler's seventh-grade English classes have been reading "A long way from Chicago."
"This is a way for us to connect what is being taught in class, and allow for a first hand account of life during the 1930s and 1940s." Mishler said via e-mail.
Mary Jenkins and Patricia Darkias were two of a group of people who spoke to different classes in the morning. They explained how different and similar their lives were from the lives the students lead today.
"What we grew, we ate. What we canned and put away for the winter is what we had," Jenkins told students.
"We raised our own chickens, cows and pigs," Darkias explained. "If we wanted bacon then we made our own bacon. That's how life was then, there was no McDonalds down the street."
Students sat patiently listening to the adults as they continued to explain the reality of what life was like at their age.
"We didn't have running water, we washed up every evening and once a week, we brought in the laundry tub and filled it with water that we had heated on the stove. We pumped the water and every Saturday night, we took a bath so we would be presentable for Sunday school," Darkias said.
"We all used the same water too."
"We also had to use an out house," Jenkins explained.
"Going outside at night to use a restroom was not fun, especially because the chickens were there too."
The students sat quietly in amazement as the stories continued and they learned from first hand accounts.
"My clothes were made, or bought at a local store," Jenkins said.
"We didn't have huge department stores back then. Occasionally, you will find something at a local store."
"We made our clothes out of feed sacks," Darkias said.
"It was very thick and course. It scratched a lot."
"Girls wore their dresses past their knees and always kept their legs closed. We weren't suppose to show our legs," Jenkins added.
"Boys usually wore slacks. We were not supposed to dirty our clothes, and if we did, we would get into trouble."
When the discussion came up to topics such as the cost of gasoline, student jaws noticeably dropped at the amount.
"We could buy a gallon of gasoline for a nickel, all of us (a group of friends) would gather our allowance, which was about 25 cents a person, we would buy gas, if someone had a car and go see a movie for 15 cents," Jenkins commented with a laugh.
"You can't do that today."
A question asked by Mishler, about dances during that era, had the largest noticeable reaction from the students.
"I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16," Darkias said to the shocked class. "Boyfriends were out of the question."
"I was allowed to have a date to prom," Jenkins said.
"If I went on a date then we usually walked."
At the end of the day everyone walked away with more insight into another person's life.
"The day was very successful and educational," Harbour told The Brazil Times.
"The students, the visiting elders, and the teachers gained invaluable knowledge from the project."
Students gained information and respect for their elders by listening to their stories and learning through them.
"They were able to realize what first source research is, as well as learning that not all-second or third source research (books or the Internet) is completely accurate," Harbour said.
Other members of the school agreed.
During the discussions other teachers sat in with the students and listened.
"This is the kind of experience that takes the students beyond the text books," North Clay Middle School Principal Jeff Allen told The Brazil Times. "This was a standards-based activity that helped to create a connection among our institutions that we hope to build upon."
Harbour also acknowledged the same sentiments for the hope of the project.
"We look forward to the project next year, and we plan to continue the project for years to come. The wisdom of our elders is a resource that should not be taken for granted," he said.
"We wish to thank Cloverleaf and Holly Hill for their cooperation and hard work, and we look forward to working with them again."