June 5th – 16th
Summer is definitely here. Down on the Homestead we’ve stopped providing cooking demonstrations and have switched over to making ice cream. Lots of ice cream. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I’ll ever stop smelling of vanilla.
Since summer vacation is almost upon us, a lot of local schools are getting in a last trip to the Homestead before their students break for July and August. This means that June has been extremely busy. Just today we’ve had sixty schoolkids through. Quite a show.
Certainly the slow days that we knew in May are no longer around. Between the school tours, the drop-in traffic (which has increased greatly over the past week), the PA day on the 9th and the regular maintenance and upkeep work, it’s amazing that the small staff of the Homestead can keep up, let alone work on all the other projects and tasks that need doing.
Of course, I know how hard it is to balance all these aspects of the job as I am doing it myself. I am happy to report that I have -mostly- completed all the research required for the educational program I am developing. Since this program is based around showing school children the basics of research and argument development, I didn’t need to just find information for myself, but find information- mostly excerpts from historical documents- that the participants will find understandable and also useful when they construct their arguments about who they believe invented the telephone. I have singled out the four most important alternate claimants to the telephone for the participants to consider- Elisha Gray, the Western Union engineer who did invent a sound transmitting machine independently although too late to beat Bell; Daniel Drawbaugh, backwoods machinist and blowhard with a massive cast of supremely unreliable witnesses; Philip Reis, a German schoolteacher whose death did not stop others from claiming he invented the telephone first; and Amos Dolbear, who made the strange blunder of publicly lauding Bell for his invention before privately trying to claim the telephone for himself. We will see whether this court of Grade Eights decides whether one of these men have a convincing claim, or whether to decide in favour of Alexander Graham Bell. It should be interesting.
I did promise last week that I would provide a short tour of the Bell Homestead, and so here we go!
Feelin’ tired but accomplished,
Scott W. E. Dickinson