I heard a new calling today. Tour Guide for Children. I chaperoned Julianna’s class tour of downtown Frederick (we figured I couldn’t get TOO lost, given that I’d lived there for 10 years [and can I say that I just re-read that post I linked to there and nearly had a panic attack reading it. But I was so cool about it at the time. I was on GOOD meds]). The school is downtown, so we just herded the kids out and a few blocks over to the Historical Society. One of my charges kept walking on her knees b/c she wanted to “be a gnome.” But I was kind and firm about that. Get on yer damned feet, child, and take comfort in the fact that you’re naturally short. I also had to–several times–point out to her that even IF the candy wrapper she found on the ground contained candy, she would not be allowed to eat it. I know, it’s like I’m the cruel headmistress from some English boarding school.
We arrived at the Historical Society early, but they were able to start our tour early, probably to keep the kids from rioting. We started out a couple doors down at Winchester Hall. She proceeded to tell the kids about County Commissioners–how many we have, what they do–the kids were, of course, riveted. What kid doesn’t love county politics? Matters were not helped by the fact that our guide was 100 years old, so the kids were suspicious from the get go. Generally, a cool thing about old folks is the onion on their belt–which, for our non-Simpsons readers (freaks) is their long stories that don’t go anywhere. The beauty of them is that they’re usually funny, if unintentionally. This gal’s onion was dried and powdered. “This building was erected in 1742. It burned and was rebuilt in 1822 but the steeple was saved so it was still original. People like to say the church is from 1742, but it is not, it is just the steeple…” Skxxxxxxzzzzzz. Look, I’m a pretty big history geek and I don’t care when a building was built. You can give me a rough estimate for context and I’m good. “Late 18th C” is good enough for me.
Did we enter a single building? No. One of the churches has real Tiffany stained glass, it’s breathtaking. Nary a mention. Best moment: “This was an Anglican church which was the Church of England. When the colonies broke with England, what do you think happened?” Boy in the class, “Soldiers marched into the church and killed everyone?” Frederick, MD, son. not Sierra Leone. Did she tell the story about how Stonewall Jackson fell asleep in the Episcopal church and snored? No. That would have been interesting. Mentions of Barbara Fritchie and her dubious connection to the Confederate march down Patrick Street? Zero. Discussions of Civil War Medicine advances (nice and gorey)? None.
I spent the whole time thinking of how to make it better. It’s important to stew and plot the defeat of nice old ladies. It keeps one young. But really, all these kids now have the association local history=tedium. And really, Frederick is cool and full of good stories. I figure if nothing else, I can learn a tour to give to our school kids. The kids at other schools can have the lame tour.