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Fun Day helps re-create play of old

August 21, 2010|By ALICIA NOTARIANNI
  • Tyler Lane of Shippensburg, Pa., plays the rolling hoop game Saturday during Colonial Family Fun Day at the Jonathan Hager House at City Park in Hagerstown.
Ric Dugan, Staff Photographer

Tyler Lane balanced the barrel hoop like a wheel, holding it in place with just a thin stick.

A volunteer said, "Three, two, one, go!"

Ten-year-old Tyler, of Shippensburg, Pa., darted across the lawn at the Jonathan Hager House at City Park in Hagerstown Saturday, skillfully rolling the hoop over bumps and hollows in the grass.

It was easy to imagine children playing the same game at "Hager's Fancy," as the land was called in the late 1700s, when

Hagerstown founder Jonathan Hager built and established the house.

Imagining and considering life on the frontier was just what John Bryan hoped visitors would do at Colonial Family Fun Day.

Bryan, historic sites facilitator for the City of Hagerstown, said that's the "number one reason" for the event, now in its third year.

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Adding a special twist this year, Bryan said city staff focused on bringing to life recreation on the frontier.

"We tried to tie this event in with a lecture we did this past week," Bryan said.

"We want to dispel the myth that life on the frontier was dull. In fact, it mirrored in some ways the amusements you might find in the major cities of the time like Baltimore or Philadelphia."

Early taverns in the Hagerstown area had ballrooms attached, where people would go to dance.

And horse racing also was a popular pastime in the area, Bryan said.

People hosted and attended social gatherings and took dance lessons.

Children in both rural and metropolitan areas turned to games such as sack races, three-legged races and blind man's bluff for fun, Bryan said.

Other popular pastimes were rounders, a game that evolved into today's baseball; quoits, a game like horseshoes or ring toss; and nine pins, a forerunner of contemporary bowling.

Tyler Lane attended Colonial Family Fun Day with his parents, Alan and Julie Lane, both 32, and his sister, Rachel, 5.

In addition to participating in hands-on game demonstrations, the Lanes went on a guided tour of the Hager House.

"It's amazing to see how people lived in that time. Just making a piece of clothing could take a whole year," Alan Lane said. "Looking at the kitchen, cups were made of cattle horn. Everything was used and nothing was thrown away."

Julie Lane said her children are home-schooled and they attended the event as a field trip.

The Lane family was struck by the reason that frontier families placed candleboxes up off the floor.

"Candles were not made of wax," Alan Lane said. "They were made of animal fat, so the mice would come and eat them. It's really amazing, the simple things we take for granted today."

Bryan said four families attended the event and that it was "well-received."

"There is a lot of history behind the games that we play today," Bryan said. "The families who came not only had fun, but learned a little history, too."

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