Thanksgiving at the Colonial House

The Colonial House was built in 1976. In 1977. my first year as music teacher at the Ray School, Willy Black, the art teacher, invited me to join her at the Colonial House during the three days prior to Thanksgiving. The scheduled art and music classes for the week were rearranged so all students could have a period at the house. We wanted the students to have the experience of being in the house during the Thanksgiving time. In recent years the classes visited with their learning buddies.

Many years, the boys and girls had to huddle close to the fire because of the cold temperatures outdoors, giving to the experience a real feel of what it was like to live in a Colonial House in the winter time. We talked about Colonial times, sang some traditional songs such as “Over the River and Through the Woods,” played games, ate popcorn, and always read a story. Each year we discussed new things. As time went on and got so students at the school no longer remembered the building of the Colonial House, we even talked about how the house was built.

When Willy retired, I continued the tradition to be joined three years later by Ellen Haun, in her first year as art teacher. The experience expanded to include a visit to the native American hut by the vernal pool and a discussion and role playing of some Native American traditions.

Willy brought a hand puppet turkey which went, “gobble-gobble”, when its mouth was opened, reacting to a solar disc. We named him “Mr. Gobbles”. Mr. Gobbles was passed on to me when Willy left, and to Ellen when I left. He wears a braided anklet, made during one of the activities.

We always tried to have a hot dog lunch (with my home made relish) for the staff members on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving day.

As the years rolled on the tradition became an important one. The Colonial House is a special place on the Ray School property. It not only represent the history of our country, but a very vibrant time in our school history, when the town rose to the occasion of helping the school to build and on-site living history area. It is a favorite, quiet spot for the children to be, and the Thanksgiving visit is always a special time.

Donna Butler
Retired Music Teacher