None of them knew it was an ice box, the non-electric precursor to the refrigerator. It was just one of the items that helped bring history to life for Oakley Elementary School students on a field trip to the East Contra Costa Historical Museum in Brentwood.
"It is fun for the kids to see how things have changed over time and how many conveniences we have now," said teacher Cindy Tumin. "I am so glad this museum is available to the community so kids can see what life was like many years ago. We are lucky to have these things close by."
Tumin and fellow teacher Suanne Schlotman escorted students and parent volunteers to the historic Byer-Nail House on Sellers Avenue, dividing them into groups so they all had an intimate look at how people in the area once lived.
Museum volunteer Pat Bello shows students various Native
American artifacts, including this backpack basket that held
animal stomachs filled with drinking water.
Students toured the dining room, parlor, office and bathroom downstairs as well as the community-themed rooms upstairs devoted to Knightsen, Bethel Island, Byron and Oakley.
In the Knightsen room, volunteer Pat Bello showed students Miwok artifacts such as arrowheads, stone bowls for grinding and a basket backpack used to carry water.
Guides also walked the groups through the tool shed and yard, where children viewed antique farm equipment, photographs and other artifacts.
"I just love doing this," said Jack Adams, a museum volunteer. "I hope that I cover what they would like to know about."
"It is nice for my son to see that his parents don't just collect old stuff; it means something to us," said Jody Korston, a parent volunteer. "Now he can see the importance."
"I am just amazed by it all," said Karen Hollsworth, a parent volunteer.
"I like visiting this place because my dad likes this place, too," said student Trevor Hernandez, 8, adding that his father used to work on the property. "I had a good time here and would like to come again."