Recently, the kids and I checked out the James K. Polk center in Pineville for their music-themed “2nd Saturday” event. They also had traditional examples of toys that kids would have played with back in the day. Graces ring toss to help girls be graceful, paddle, and ball-on-a-string-in-a-cup. A few very cool history buff kids demonstrated how to play the games and served as delightful little docents.
A highlight was an almost-private concert from the Flat Possum Hoppers, a Charlotte-based bluegrass band. You have to love a song – Rabbit in a Log – where kids are encouraged to bark like a dog. I could have sat there all day, but the kids were getting restless, so we headed to the cook house to make some “maracas” from paper plates. (I would imagine that dried gourds are a little hard to come by this time of year).
You can’t visit the James K. Polk center’s main house without a conversation about the chamber pot, and how it was the children’s job to empty it. Our kids also had a conversation with the staff about bartering and traders, cool concepts that they can get as citizens who have little in terms of actual money, but lots of trinkets to trade. On the way out, we got to practice, as my son “bartered” a $6 balance on a Target gift card for a ball-on-a-string-in-a-cup and a copy of the Declaration of Independence. He was happy with his new toys and I was happy that there would be $6 less of plastic clutter from my nemesis the Target dollar spot.
While the music and paper plates were a little out of time and place, it wasn’t long before the kids figured out the real theme of the day: No iPad. No phone. No TV. No video games. Hey kids: After you’ve cleaned out the chamber pot, entertain yourself. And, while you’re at it, make yourself some toys, games and instruments to entertain yourself. The parents of a future president likely didn’t spend a lot of time worrying about how to entertain Junior. Love it.
The James K. Polk Center will be hosting two more FREE “2nd Saturday” events this summer – “Breaking the Mold: Mixed Media Creations” on July 14 (Blacksmiths! Pottery!); and “Threading the Story: The Form and Function of Spinning and Weaving” on August 11. For more information, visit http://www.nchistoricsites.org/polk/. For more information about the Department of Cultural Resources FREE “2nd Saturday” events around NC, visit: http://nccultureevents.com/events.php.