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Working with Hands - James E. Price

  Cumberland Gap National Park Event by James E. Price 1 of 3  

I have taught lots of people the old ways of unplugged woodworking and demonstrated old tools and techniques to lots of school children...

... but never have I had the opportunity to enlighten over 2,000 school children within a 6-hour span of time like I did one week ago at The Cumberland Gap National Historical Park near Middlesboro, Kentucky.

The event was named, "An American Memoir" and the theme was "American Values"; namely, hard work, sacrifice, bravery, military service, and patriotism. It was to celebrate the 100th Anniversary of The National Park Service and to officially release The Cumberland Gap Quarter in The America The Beautiful Series issued by the U.S. Mint.

Russ Runge, Deputy Superintendent at Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and I did the coffin making demonstration.

Over 2,000 school children attended the event.
This photo is the group on the south side of the main tent.

This is a photo of the children and their teachers inside the tent.

Students participated in the National Park Service Centennial ceremony and the release of The Cumberland Gap Quarter from The U.S. Mint.

The 2,000 students were in groups that passed by our work station while a Park Service Interpreter, Russ, and I put coffin making into its cultural context of the great westward migration through The Cumberland Gap between circa 1790 and 1825.

I have had a week to contemplate the event and its contribution to the enlightenment of school children and I must say that I am both elated and encouraged by what I witnessed there. I am thrilled that the youngsters were totally enthralled about American history and past lifeways and technology.

Hundreds of school children held our tools and some got to try them out. They were extremely interested and well behaved.

I feel they gained a reverence for the past that cannot be achieved from books and classroom instruction and I am sure that among that group of youngsters are future unplugged woodworkers and other traditional craftspeople keeping our passion alive.

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