TREASURES FROM THE BELHAVEN MUSEUM

People in this part of the country are fond of saying that "it's not who you know but what you know." They say it a lot. Yet, that doesn't prevent them from insisting on the best education for their children that money can buy because, in the final analysis, knowledge is power. Our tradition of having a well-informed citizenry is one that goes back to the time of the ancient Hebrews. Whereas the contemporary school would feel naked without a vast armada of computers, video machines and the like, the schoolhouse of a hundred years ago got along quite well using substantially less.

The museum contains several items that might be considered typical for the period. There are two vintage school desks of the same construction as those on television shows such as Little House on the Prairie. Each is built with the seat for the student in the position in front attached to the desktop of the student just behind. All of the students' books and tablets were kept in a space just underneath the desktop. A circular cutout held the obligatory inkwell for use with the old nibbed pens. (It also provided a convenient place for easily amused boys to dip the pigtails of the girl in the seat just ahead when the lecturer lost their attention.)

As the calligraphers among you will agree, the use of nibbed pens and inkwells can be a quite laborious endeavor. A special brush-like tool is on display that was kept on the desk and used for wiping off the pen when it became lumbered too heavily with ink. Also serving this function is a small figurine. Made of soft leather stretched over a chicken's wishbone, it is decorated to resemble a school girl. The inscription reads as follows: "ONCE I WAS A WISHBONE INSIDE A LITTLE HEN BUT NOW I AM A LITTLE MAID ON WHICH YOU WIPE YOUR PEN."

Come and see this piece of history and others in "Granny's Attic," the Belhaven Memorial Museum.

Belhaven Treasure #21

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Diane K. Mason, HTML Editor 1998