A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Learning the Three Rs in Bodie

So by now some of you may have been thinking that some of these homes, saloons and other buildings have been "set up" to look like how it was at the time.  Supposedly this is not so and I'd like to believe that.  I want to believe.  But when it came to the school house I find it difficult to think this is how it was left, especially with the writing on the chalkboards.

With the disastrous fires that took place in Bodie, surely some kids wondered why the school house never burned down.  Such was the misery of living in Bodie.

Nice to see that they had a music program that wasn't eliminated due to budget cuts.  The poster states Spirit of Education 1885? to1933 so it dates the classroom's final usage period.
Notice the chalk board to the left.

It appears that if you were a boy and lived in Bodie, your fate was sealed.  You were destined to be a miner.  Here you see the school learning tools used for Mining 101.

Here I wanted to capture the sun baked globe sitting right by the window, plus the background too.  A bit difficult to get good depth of field through dirty glass with the sun behind you.  That globe has no map features left to it.  They had been cooked off by the sun long ago leaving the severely cracked solid wood sphere.  Notice the books are scattered about the desks just a little to...
not real. 

Here you can see more of the suspect writing on the chalkboard. 

The math problems.  Pretty basic.  Sure they had children of all ages in one classroom but it's pretty simple stuff to devote an entire chalkboard for.  The middle board has written:
Eighth grade your ?? are due Friday
Lakeside picnic on October 1st
Potluck dinner and Sunday services bring your jack-o-lantern
Lakeside has to be Mono Lake as there are no other lakes.  Mono Lake is 15 to 18 miles away on a extremely rough and rugged road not to be taken lightly.  Certainly not something you'd want to cart off a school house full of kids on.  If the picnic is on the first, why is the potluck dinner near Halloween a full month away already being reminded about?  The names to the right are Johnny, Bobby, Victor and Michael.  Not names I would associate with the time period.  Elmer, Floyd, Homer, Elijah, yes.  The drawing is the backside of a cat, pretty nicely done for a school kid but maybe Michael's last name was Angelo.


  1. ...some aspects like you point out maybe have been 'fixed' for the tourists afterall. Ever see a ranger in site to put it to?

  2. I visited Cades Cove, TN a few years back where I met a descendant of the original people who lived there. He showed me the "real" photos of the people and their homes, which were vastly more developed than the park service would have you believe. They presented it as s slice of backwoods Appalachia with no modern conveniences. We saw photos of houses with siding instead of logs, and many other modernizations. He was quite indignant about it - guess they will do whatever brings the most people. It does make you wonder how much is staged!

  3. I was thinking that certain building looked a little too "clean" inside, like maybe they get a yearly dusting! ;)

  4. yup, i think you definitely busted 'em on this one - a little bit theatrical. the books, for certain, and the blackboard writing is staged!

  5. I can't recall if I have seen this school house in my last visit to Bodie. Wow, you really posted a lot of thought in the condition of how it should be. I too would rather like to believe it is all real. If they dust it on occasion, that is fine. Your writing is always great, keep them coming.

  6. I have to agree w/ you, and Linda brings up an excellent point, too, that someone actually admitted to her that so much of it is staged... but, wouldn't it be even more interesting & crowd gathering that they were smarter than what everyone would actually think they were? I'd want to know the truth & it's disappointing to learn that it's staged like this!

    Did you have to pay to get in to see Bodie & walk around taking pics? How much?

  7. I just looked it up & found there's a $2 for adults & $1 for kids admission charge... that's very very cheap for all the staging aspect of it... you said 200,000 visitors a year, so that's $600,000 a year... I would have thought it would be more like at least $10 per person...

  8. I met a woman while living in Bishop named Katy Bell (nee Conway). She had been born in Bodie and her brother, Richie, owned the ranch at the base of Conway Summit now owned, I believe, by the county. He had lifetime grazing rights to the land up Virginia Creek, a point of contention for our water board as there was concern over contamination.
    Katy was quite old by the time I met her and not a very good source of information.

  9. Still fascinating to my way of thinking. :)


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