Richard’s Almanac: Traveling back in time

BEVERLEA WALZ PHOTO Last year’s Time Travelers program at the Historical Society.

Last year’s Time Travelers program at the Historical Society.

More than 50 years ago, in order to make a phone call on the Island, one had to pick up the phone and tell the operator whom to call.

Students who were enrolled in the Shelter Island Historical Society’s “Time Travelers” program this week, heard about how they made phone calls a half century ago from original telephone operators.

“The children hear a great deal about past culture on and off the Island from numerous senior citizen volunteers,” noted camp co-director, Heather Reylek. Heather is in charge of the musical end of the curriculum.

On the first day, which covered the 1950s to the present, she had music from that time. For the 1800s, later in the week, they learned “Old Abe Lincoln Came out of the Wilderness,” a rousing campaign song “that was popular with real people at the time,” Heather said.

The program ran from Monday, August 3 and continues through Friday, August 7 from 9 a.m. to 12 noon and explored something different each day, according to the other co-director, Sarah Shepherd.

“Each day we stepped back in time, ending up in the Colonial period and life among the Native Americans,” Sarah explained.

Shelter Island history was also explored and how it extended to the world of theater and music.

“The musical theater component had well-known Island figures, including Miss Annie, Captain Ed Cartwright and Ralph Duvall, portrayed by students,” Heather said.

I learned that throughout the five days, students were exposed to a variety of artists and craftsmen, including printmakers, rug braiders and computer artists.

“Every student will learn to play the harmonica at the end of the program,” Heather said.

Sarah, a beekeeper and herbalist, enlisted the help of her father, Gene, who made ice cream for everyone with his vintage machine.

The program is held under the auspices of Historical Society trustee Kathy Gooding and is in its third year. My granddaughter Myla participated for the past two years and attended it again this year.