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Monday, March 2, 2015

Lost Skills of the Old West by Stacy DeLano

I am so excited about an upcoming “True Grit” program that when I think about it, I feel like a jubilant five year old. When I was little, my family went each summer to Silver Dollar City, an 1880s themed park in the Ozarks. We always started by watching the peanut brittle demonstration where I’d sit up on my dad’s shoulders because I couldn’t see past the big kids. The old-timey lady would smash up the candy and place it in a gingham covered basket for the crowd to take. I really, really wanted to take one of the big chucks, but never worked up my nerves enough to take anything but a little piece.

Next, we’d move on to glass blowing. Now mind you—these were the days before all the rides came. At that time, the park just had “Fire in the Hole,” the Mine ride, and the old Treehouse, so most of the entertainment was in watching the craftsmen demonstrating their 1880s skills-and we loved it!

After glass blowing, we’d wind through the shop where I’d pined for one of the delicate glass hummingbirds and tiny dolphins. I would try to pick up every single mini animal before my mother could catch up and scold me to keep my hands in my pockets.

We’d make our way around the park from demonstration to demonstration until lunchtime when we’d go to the Mine Restaurant and eat what seemed to be an exotically historic meal, but what I now think must have been something like KFC chicken and instant mashed potatoes. But we had been transported to a completely different time and place, so every bite was delicious.

I’ve missed those visits and getting to pretend that we lived in another time. But on Saturday, March 14, the Multi Arts Center is bringing a similar 1880s experience here to Stillwater. It’ll be your best chance to really get the feel of the “True Grit” era. The program, “Lost Skills of the Old West,” will have Dutch-oven cooking, a blacksmithing demonstration and time to try your hand at spinning and candlemaking.

“Lost Skills,” which lasts from 1-5 p.m., is $25, but you’ll be getting a delicious Dutch-oven meal and go home with swag from the candlemaking sessions.

Registration is required, so sign-up by call 405-747-8084 or emailing It is my understanding that they have to have registrations early to ensure the Dutch-oven cooking, so if you plan on going, I would encourage you to call now.

The Old West fun continues March 16 – March 20 at the Wondertorium. Anyone who has a membership or who purchases a regular ticket into the museum will also receive a pass for that day’s Hands-On History activity. Each day from 10:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m., a new historic craft will be introduced, including Dreamcatchers on March 16, Cornhusk Dolls on March 17, Sling Shots on March 18, Basket Weaving on March 19 and Quilt Squares on March 20.

For more information, visit the Wondertorium website at or call 405-533-3333.

If you haven’t registered for “True Grit,” then dash over to our website (or the library) to get signed up and have a book held for you. And don’t forget the three performances of “Oklahoma Women with True Grit” coming up this week. The performances will be held Saturday, March 7, at 3 p.m. in the OSU Postal Plaza Gallery; Monday, March 9, at 4 p.m. in the OSU Library; and Tuesday, March 10, at 1 p.m. during the Osher Life Long Learning Town Hall held at Stillwater Public Library.

For more info on the “True Grit” program, visit

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