Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Friendly Ghost Story

This past Sunday at the Laurel Museum we had our Kids Fall Fun Day. Featuring the wonderful world of Pumpkins, this 2 hour event brought about 30 children and their families. We had some fun crafts like pumpkin weaving and pumpkin seed mosaics. We also had a pumpkin patch for children to pick their own pumpkins that they then decorated. We had lots of tasty pumpkin related food--pumpkin pie, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin whip, pumpkin butter, etc.

We also told the public that we would be having an age appropriate ghost story. I took up the charge to be the person to tell the age appropriate ghost story. I spoke to one of our wonderful volunteers who is also the vice principal at a local school for some rules on what I could and could not talk about.

Here were my parameters:
It can not be scary.
No one can die.
You can not talk about dead people.
Try to make it related to the history of Laurel and the house.

Hmm. Sounds easy, right?

The ghost story was to begin at 2:15 and right around that time people started trekking to the spot we picked for our ghost story.

As I watched the little ones trickle in, I realize how much of a challenge this will be.

We had kids ranging in age from those who could barely walk to those who were already putting on makeup. It might be a little difficult to reach all of them with the same story.

But that's fine. Who doesn't love a great challenge? Certainly not small museum directors--we live for the challenge!

So I begin telling them the story.

I start by talking about the Museum building and how 4 families would have lived in the house.

I asked them where the people would have worked (The Mill), how old they had to be to start working (8yrs), etc.

I tell them about a little girl who was only 5 yrs old named Samantha who was left alone in the house to do chores while all of her family went to work. Her mean older sister liked to play tricks on her and hide things from her so that she couldn't finish her chores.

My story was interrupted by one boy who insisted Samantha could not have told us this. I asked him why, and he said "Because she's dead". I realized at that point I had never given a date for the story and asked him how he knew she was dead. And he said because this happened like a long time ago. GREAT!

I responded, "Yes, this all happened over 100 years ago." Whew! I almost didn't tell them the date. And I thought, yes, she is dead, but you brought it up so I didn't technically go outside my set parameters.

Now back to the story...

Luckily, the little girl had a friendly ghost named Rebecca who would help her with her chores. Rebecca helped Samantha find the bucket to get water from the river for doing laundry that her mean sister would hide from her before she went to work. Rebecca also helped Samantha find the soap and other things her sister would hide.

All of this concluded with the children coming up one by one to plunge the washer plunger into the clothes bucket three times.

Throughout the experience I tried to keep their attention by asking questions. I asked them things like if any of them ever hid things from their brothers and sisters. I also kept asking them how old the little girl was and how long she had to wait before she could work at the mill.

Some of the kids were really annoyed that the story wasn't scarier. According to our evaluations, others seemed to really enjoy the story.

In the end, it was an interesting experience of us all. I learned that maybe I should plan out the ghost story a little better next time so the kids don't end up doing laundry. But I'm not sure. I think some people liked the "hands-on appropriate for all ages ghost story." We'll see. Maybe Samantha and Rebeccawill make another appearance sometime soon.

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