Family's music is added attraction at open house

December 10, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - The soundtrack for Saturday's open house at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum came from an unexpected source.

Driving by, Sevan Birky noticed the event. She went back to her Roxbury home and rounded up husband Greg and daughters Michelle and Rachael so they could go back and perform.

Back at the museum, on Md. 65 north of Sharpsburg, Michelle played the flute as other family members sang Christmas tunes.

On a few - "O Christmas Tree" and "Jingle Bells" - Sevan chimed in in her native Armenian.

Leslie Hendrickson, the museum's administrator, said the annual open house gives the public a peek at the treasures inside.

"We've got the reputation as the best little ... secret in Washington County," Hendrickson said.

Along with its permanent displays of rural life, the museum each year has a special exhibit for its open house.

This year's was a collection of about two dozen intricate handcrafted miniature cabins built by Jesse L. Shoemaker Jr. of Indian Springs, near Big Pool.


A sign on the wall described Shoemaker's motivation in his own words.

"I started making log cabins in 1993 after my son was shot and killed," the sign reads. "I had to take my mind off what had happened and this is what I started to do."

In one room at the museum, children made Christmas crafts on Saturday.

Douglas and Susan Stull of Hagerstown helped young hands poke needles through popcorn and cranberries, forming decorations suitable for hanging on a pine tree's branches.

Douglas Stull said children made paper snowflakes and chains, too.

The also made cornucopias out of ribbons and wallpaper scraps, Susan Stull said.

Angie Touhey of Hagerstown sat with her 2-month-old son, Sean, as daughters Sarah, 7, and Anna, 6, finished popcorn-and-cranberry strands.

When the girls saw Santa Claus at the museum, "they both said they wanted a horse," Touhey said.

Phil Muritz of Smithsburg, the museum's Santa for the day, sat in an authentic sleigh.

He remembered the girls' grand request, explaining later, "That's gonna be tough."

Many other Christmas wishes that Muritz heard were electronic and modern, beyond the scope of his understanding. He didn't get a chance to brush up on current trends ahead of time.

Still, much of what tickled the fancy of visitors was historic and traditional, not new and edgy, said Marjorie Peters, who soon will take over as leader of the Friends of the Museum group.

Peters, who was the administrator of Hagerstown's Miller House for many years, said parents watching their children create new items on Saturday saw other things they remembered from their youth.

By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Britni Dickens of Hagerstown measures a garland she made from popcorn and cranberries Saturday at the Washington County Rural Heritage Museum.

(photo -- Rural Heritage Museum.tif -- in News folder)

The Herald-Mail Articles