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Lecturer makes 1865 come alive for children

July 26, 2000

Lecturer makes 1865 come alive for children



By MARC G. AUBER / Staff Writer, Chambersburg


CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Nancy Walker said Wednesday morning that she wants to take the mystery out of history.

And she is confident that she succeeded after hanging out for a couple of hours with about 30 kids in grades 2-5 at the First United Methodist Church on 225 S. Second St.

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Walker, of Fort Loudon, Pa., and an early dance and etiquette specialist, spent the morning teaching the children about young lives in 1865.

Some of the youngsters couldn't believe it when she told them there were no television sets, radios or video games and that kids often had to find their own fun.

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They were also shocked when she showed them the type of clothing people wore during the Civil War.

Some of the kids puckered their lips and groaned when Walker explained that there was no such thing as peppermint toothpaste and that people brushed their teeth with a special powder.

"They are all sponges at this age," Walker said. "Something will catch their imagination and I see their eyes light up when something unique comes up before them."

The Chambersburg Area Council for the Arts sponsored the program through its Express Yourself summer campaign, enabling the young people to take a step back in time for free.

Site Coordinator Holly Norris said Walker will be at various places throughout the area this week, presenting "Playing Around in 1865 - Children's Games, Dances & Clothing."

"You can always go back in time anytime you like," Walker told the youngsters, who smiled and giggled as they participated in group games like The Snail and looked at a picture of an old family coach.

"It was awesome," said Shelly Eckenrode, 10, of Chambersburg. "You got to try on the clothes that they wore back then."

"And they couldn't shave their legs," Greg Eckenrode, 7, of Chambersburg, added. "It was fun."

Walker is also passionate about the Renaissance and Victorian eras and is always looking for ways to share her knowledge.

"As a child I have always loved history," she said. "I could never get my hands on enough books."

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