Summer, fall are full of learning opportunities

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Summer, fall are full of learning opportunities

August 31, 1995
By Pamela Cressey

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Nancy Hayward displays a sugar cone during a hands-on Alexandria Archaeology Adventure Lesson. Saturday morning Adventure Lessons are offered Saturdays this fall.

When did I first learn to love history and old things? As with most of us, my early childhood experiences of good times and cozy feelings associated with historic items cultivated my mind. Since both of my parents’ families came to California in the early 1900s, we had only a few family objects that made the long trip. But each one was displayed in the house with a touch of reverence. My mother would provide an oral catalogue for me of each object including how it came from England or Iowa to California. These artifacts represented the only link with the past, as both families had to start over again in this golden land of opportunity. 

For each birthday my grandmother Cressey, a Victorian English nurse, gave me a small family item-a touch of lace from her wedding gown, a lock of hair, a prayer, a thimble- with a written note about its heritage. I prized each item, and keep the notes to this day in the same boxes in which they came. So for me the past seemed so precious, something to preserve and love.

Children have a natural curiosity about the past, as they do the future. If their minds are cultivated with historic questions, ideas and great experiences, you can plant the seeds that will yield an appreciation of the past. Summer is a wonderful time for doing this mental cultivation. Visit all our great museums and historic parks in the area. Call the Alexandria Archaeology Museum for a brochure to all the historic sites in Alexandria, 703-838-4399. See the ParkTakes booklet for all the Fairfax County historic sites, nature parks and lakes and their special events. Visit a National Park like the Manassas Battlefield, Theodore Roosevelt Island, and Great Falls C&O Canal. Don’t forget the exciting hands-on education programs at Mount Vernon.

Alexandria Archaeology is offering classes this fall through the City of Alexandria Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. The Archaeology Adventures start September 9 for ages 9 to 11 years and November 4 for the 12-15 group. They are given three Saturday mornings from 10 to 11:30 at a cost of $20 for the series. I am teaching an adult morning class on October 21 from 9 to 12. The children’s series include one visit to the current excavation at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial and hands-on lessons with real Alexandria artifacts. See the Recreation booklet that is sent to all Alexandria households, and call us at 703-838-4399 to sign up. Space is very limited. Come explore this fall. Make history an adventure!

Pamela Cressey is the Alexandria City Archaeologist.