Friday, April 1, 2016

Friday's Faces from the Past: TAMU RPTS Stories - RP 322, Spring 1977

The following pictures are NOT from the scrapbook I kept in 1976-1977 as the Reporter-Historian of the Texas A&M University Recreation and Parks Club, but they are from the same school year, and I am posting them here in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Recreation, Park, and Tourism Sciences Department.  

They are from the Spring 1977 RP 322 class, which was Interpretation and Management of Historic Areas.  It was taught by Dr. John Hanna (PhD '74) and graduate assistant Cindy Irwin (MS '78), and was a small class of only eleven students.

Most of our projects were tied to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site, only 30 miles from campus.  Dr. Hanna obtained funding from the Barrington Society, a group of ladies formed in 1957 to preserve the home (called Barrington) of  Anson Jones, the last president of the Republic of Texas, to purchase materials for a Historic Crafts Fair demonstration at the Texas Independence Day celebration held at the park (on March 6 in 1977).

Each student in the class had to research an activity of daily living in Texas in the 1830s, and write a short paper with references about it (which were published in a booklet called "Taking You Back:  A Collection of Early Texas Crafts and Practices").  The activities chosen included blacksmithing; clothes washing and ironing; cooking; embroidery; dipping candles; preserving cabbage; hide tanning; candy pulling; and making toys, soap, and fire.

The demonstrations took place in (the kitchen for cooking and preserving cabbage, for example) and around (on the grounds for outdoor activities) the Anson Jones Home.  It should be noted that the Anson Jones Home (Barrington) was set up quite differently in 1977 than it is today, as the kitchen was a very large (and rather inaccurate) reconstruction, the dog-trot portion of the house had been closed in, and there was a "replica" doctor's office on the site.

The latter building inspired me to focus on 1830s medicine, specifically home remedies.  My demonstrations took place in the Anson Jones "doctor's office."  My mother made my simple dress, apron, and mobcap.

Above:  Me practicing "medicine" (making 1830s home remedies) in the Anson Jones "doctor office" at Barrington at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site during the Historic Crafts Fair at the Texas Independence Day celebration there on March 6, 1977.

Below:  Page 7 of the Spring 1977 newsletter of the Star of the Republic Museum at Washington-on-the-Brazos, with a description of the Historic Crafts Fair plans.

Above and below:  more pictures of me demonstrating medicinal home remedies in the Anson Jones "doctor's office" at Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site during the Historic Crafts Fair part of the Texas Independence Day celebration on March 6, 1977.

Above:  Josetta Hawthorne '80 and Carolyn Ellis '79, from the Spring 1977 Recreation and Parks Department Newsletter.

Below:  An article I wrote for the Brenham Banner Press about the Independence Hall Interpretation Project.  The identical text, but with a different photograph (of one of the exhibits), was published in the Navasota Examiner the previous day.  The photo in the article shows Carolyn Ellis '79 and Knellen Remmert (Sociology '77) with the exhibit they created on the "Setting for Change," about the town of Washington as it was in 1836, featuring artifacts from the old townsite.

The class also had a semester-long project to design new exhibits and a slide show for Independence Hall at Washington-on-the-Brazos.  The Washington-on-the-Brazos State Park Association provided the funding.  I was the team leader for this project, which included extensive research and a visitor survey.  The survey was coded, keypunched on cards, and then run through the mainframe computer (then in the library at Texas A&M - this was the days before desktop computers!) with a statistical analysis software package.

I also worked on the slide show with my high school friend Josetta Hawthorne '80.  We decided to use the diary of Colonel William Fairfax Gray, who was present during the convention where Texas declared its independence from Mexico, as the basis for our narrative.  Research included a trip to the Barker Texas History Center in Austin (now the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History), where I was allowed to photograph pages of the original Gray diary (this was LONG before they were digitized!).  Our friend Cody Jetton '79 voiced Gray in the narration for the thirteen-minute slide show.

The five exhibits and the slide show were used for a number of years in Independence Hall.  And all of my work on the project led to a job.  I was hired as a summer intern at the park, and was able to start on weekends as an interpreter in Independence Hall and Barrington in April 1977.  After the full-time summer job ended, I went back to working weekends the following school year (1977-78), and worked weekends again in the fall of 1978 (after a summer internship at San Jose Mission, then a State and National Historic Site) through March of 1979 (as I started my first full-time post-degree job with the Corpus Christi Parks and Recreation Department in early April, 1979).

© Amanda Pape - 2016 - click here to e-mail me.

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