History. The topic was not my favorite subject during my K-12 school years. It mostly entailed dates, lots and lots of dates, and wars, something which has never interested me much.
As I’ve gotten older, history appeals to me more. No, I still don’t like learning a lot of dates, and I am not very good at remembering them either. Maybe it has something to do with my attention deficit disorder — I wasn’t diagnosed until the end of high school/beginning of college, that could be why I struggled to remember things in school.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved going on field trips during school and family trips to visit places of historical and cultural significance — Town Creek Indian Mounds, Washington D.C. and its many landmarks, Raleigh and its museums and government buildings, Fort Macon and Beaufort, the USS Constitution in Boston, Thomas Eidson’s museum and home, Cherokee, Harpers Ferry, Virginia, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the Spencer Shops in Spencer, just to name a few.
And I frequented Old Salem at least once a month during high school as part of my duties as a member of the Regional Youth Council of the Moravian Church’s Southern Province. From birth I’ve been visiting Old Salem and its many buildings.
Hands-on history is fun and exciting. The book part is what doesn’t appeal to me as much.
That changed some in college when I got to pick and choose the history classes that were more specific and interesting to me. I took History of the Southeastern Native Americans and Women’s History, for example.
Saturday I was fortunate enough to give my 4-year-old son a glance into the history of this area, hands-on.
The Rock House Ruritan Club just five to 10 minutes from my house, just inside the Stokes County line outside of Pilot Mountain, annually hosts an antique tractor show. It includes a tractor parade and hayride, but for Little Man, the most exciting part was being able to climb and play on the antique tractors, being able to see the old horse- or oxen-drawn plow and a scale-down replica of an old covered wagon.
He got to watch the blacksmith, who happens to not live far from us, work on a large iron snake and take home a hook for his wall made by Joe Allen. And Hal Rosenquist was in attendance this year with a whole line up of hit-and-miss engines, each with its own duty — one ground the corn, another sifted the cornmeal out of the ground corn, another ran a pump on a water fountain wishing well with money thrown in going to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He even had a hit-and-miss that sawed wood.
Events like this are what bring history to life. Things like the Rockford reenactments and the Overmountain Victory Trail reenactments, days spent at Horne Creek Living Historical Farm or Old Salem or Bethabara Park where my mom serves as a guide (yes, she gets to dress up like the Moravians did 300 years ago).
In the future, there will be more opportunities locally to revisit history and the way things were done long ago, as the Jonesville Historical Society gets its cultural center opened up in the old Jonesville town hall building.
Even now, riding up and down local highways and country roads, you might see a mailbox post designed from an old farm implement, or see an old grinding stone or mill on the side of the road. All of these things, despite seeming small to some people, played a large role in shaping our community’s history and how things were done and have evolved since then.
This part of history I love to see, and I can’t wait to share more of it with my son as he grows up and learns to appreciate it even more.
Wendy Byerly Wood is editor of The Tribune, The Yadkin Ripple and The Pilot. She may be reached at [email protected], 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.