Reviving Pioneer Spirit History Relived on Missouri Day

Article excerpt

Olivia Vitale tossed four apples last week into a 100-year-old apple press behind Barretts School in west St. Louis County.

She turned an iron handle 10 times. Apple juice gushed into a four-gallon soup pot. Each bushel of Jonathan apples produced about two gallons of juice.

"This is good," Olivia, 9, said of the experience, the juice and the 79-degree day. Olivia attends fourth grade at Barretts, an elementary school at Dougherty Ferry and Carman roads. The school's 110 fourth-graders celebrate d Missouri Day on Wednesday by wearing pioneer clothing, playing pioneer games and identifying native plants and trees. State legislators in 1915 set aside the third Wednesday in October for schools to honor, celebrate and study Missouri. Barretts began celebrating the day five years ago, when parents, including Nancy Lynn, organized the event. "Our children were studying the history of Missouri," Lynn said. "We wanted them to feel what life was like as a child 100 years ago." Lynn and her husband, George Lynn, a geologist, collect antiques such as the apple press and the corn grinder. They lent those to the school. About 45 parents volunteered to help, including Dorothy Selfridge, a grandmother from Austin, Texas. "We need more of this," Selfridge said as she helped students operate an apple peeler. "We need to take time to appreciate nature and our world and to learn to work together." Nearby, Marilyn Smith, a parent, helped students harvest seeds from sweet coneflower, culver's root and roundheaded bush clover. The students put the seeds in plastic bags. They will plant them this winter in pots and then transplant in May or June into the prairie behind the school. Smith helped students identify prairie grasses such as big bluestem, switch grass, rye and prairie dropseed. …