Brad Merritt, of Arlington, gets tips from renowned Arlington woodwright and farmer Bill Pierce from Soaring Swallow Woodworks, with a little extra help from the boy’s grandmother, Christie.

Brad Merritt, of Arlington, gets tips from renowned Arlington woodwright and farmer Bill Pierce from Soaring Swallow Woodworks, with a little extra help from the boy’s grandmother, Christie.

Pioneer Days celebrates successful event bringing Stilly Valley history to life; historians digitize The Arlington Times

Written – sort of – in the style of pioneer times

ARLINGTON – Pioneer Days, arranged entirely by the men and women of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers Association, was well up to expectations and was enjoyed by many people from the surrounding territory, with families given hands-on examples of what life was like for early 1900s homesteaders.

Mrs. Myrtle Rausch, president of the Stillaguamish Valley Pioneers, said Pioneer Days has been an annual event since 2003 when it was presented as part of Arlington’s centennial celebration.

“We teach the kids how things used to be done, when you had to dip your pen in an ink well, milk cows by hand, wash clothes with a washboard and hand-wringer, and spin your own thread using a foot-powered old sewing machine,” Mrs. Rausch informed.

The event was occupied with an extensive program of experiences offering children a chance to grind wheat, churn butter, wash clothes the hard way and frolic with old-fashioned toys typical in the daily lives of pioneers.

New additions this year featured a cutout Holstein cow and equipment to simulate milking, as well as a woodworking demonstration.

Youngsters took turns sitting on a milking stool, squeezing soft tubing from a makeshaft udder that squirted water into a bucket. Some curious youngsters couldn’t resist peeking around the back of the display to see how it was done. Pioneer volunteers invited children to unofficially name the cow, with Molly, Bonnie, Ella and Bossy making the list.

Another popular exposition greeted visitors featuring renowned Arlington woodwright and farmer Mr. Bill Pierce, owner of Soaring Swallow Woodworks and his farm of the same Swallow name. Mr. Pierce uses mostly 19th Century hand tools to shape and sculpt wood. He gave visitors a try.

Young Mr. Brad Merritt, of Arlington, got tips on how to shave a piece of wood, with a little extra strength from his grandmother, Christie Merritt.

Brad’s grandmother wasn’t surprised that he took a liking to the skill.

“He loves working with his hands,” she said. “He’s a LEGO-maniac.”

Inside the building, a display featured an old schoolhouse desk for people to try their hand at writing cursive style, which apparently has become an irrelevant option in common core teaching in public schools.

In another corner, a volunteer demonstrated how to operate a vintage, foot-powered sewing machine. Historical pictorial displays called attention to the rigors and pleasures of pioneer life. For the fashion-conscious, a row of tables contained a variety of hats for guests to try on, which were the style of the times.

Another curio demonstration reminded visitors of the unpleasant manual chore of clothes washing before the age of Maytags and Kenmores.

Visitors gave a whirl a washboard, bucket and turn-of-the-century innovative wringer that required the person to turn a hand-crank to flatten wet laundry through two rollers, as a way to remove the water.

The Arlington Times e-history project

Mrs. Rausch announced a large project through which association volunteers are digitizing issues of The Arlington Times newspaper, which dates back to 1888. They have currently digitized editions through 1987. Access will be made available with a link on the museum website at http://www.stillymuseum.org. The files include a dynamic search function that will let browsers do specific name and keyword searches.

The association hopes to complete the project by the end of the year, Mrs. Rausch said.

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