At 11:30 each Saturday in July and August, an impromptu school is called into session. Seated on a large red rug between the Unitarian Church at Zero Church St. and the Mass. Ave side of the Old Burying Ground, Mistress Elizabeth invites passing children to learn to write their names with a quill pen, to card wool and spin it, to sing colonial songs and–if we have enough guests–to do country dances.
Younger children can untangle a skein of wool; pound spices, and taste their flavor, in a tiny slice of journeycake; play games with tops and dice, adding up their scores; and do simple needlework (both boys and girls made samplers). Stories are told of Benjamin Franklin’s schoolboy escapades, and Anna Green Winslow’s cousins’ dance parties.
Children are also asked to account for their helpfulness at home: Have they gathered the eggs for their marm? Brought in the firewood for pa? Turned the spit? Milked the cow?
We finish at 12:30, in time for Mistress Elizabeth to start the 1 PM Church History tour, “Colonial Churches as Agents of Change,” nigh the garrison.
(Photo credits: Mary Mahan, with thanks!)