I thought I would share two related anecdotes from our recent annual Sheep Shearing Day at Pennsbury Manor. As you know, we are heavily dependent upon the efforts of all our volunteers, especially during these “Big Days.” Lately it seems our ranks have been replenished with some “fresh fish” — young volunteers from home school families. One such volunteer, 8 year-old Georgie McBride, clearly likes dressing up in period clothing, and worked with her mother Trisha in the Kitchen Garden demonstrating wattle-fence making. Taking a break Georgie stopped by to chat with me as I guarded the door to the Workers’ Cottage. If you were at the event you know I’m not lying: the place was teeming with kids Georgie’s age. Upon occasion she would look about to see what they were doing. In one instance a student let out a scream from behind The House. Georgie reeled around to see what all the commotion was about. When her gaze came back to me she said in an exasperated tone, “Why is it that kids my age like that thing over there – oh, I can’t remember its name! You know– that horsey-getter-upper-onnie-and-offy-thing? Ha!” We both laughed and I said, “Georgie, it’s called a mounting block but from this day forward it will now be known as…”
Earlier that morning I’d been guiding in The House. I always like to point out the three table-top vessels for coffee, tea, and chocolate in the Withdrawing Room. Now imagine the number of kids and chaperones in these groups as we try to herd them though the first floor. By that particular room the groups tend to get crammed into a small space! After I described their significance a boy about 8 to 9 years-old exuberantly replied: “Wow! It’s like I can even smell the coffee.” I burst out laughing and said in return, “Son you’re likely smelling my breath! I drank a lot of coffee before coming on duty this morning.” Oh, it gets better!
I handed that boy’s group over to another guide and went to the front door to pick up a new group. Much to my pleasant surprise there was a much needed lull in the action and I had no group to ferry about! Instead what happened was that our own Diane Reed, standing on the front steps landing turned to me and offered a basket of spearmint candy! Timing’s everything, and too funny, right? As the late Art Linkletter used to say: “Kids say the darndest things.”
~ Written by Jim Cawley, Custodial Guide