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Published: Wednesday, 6/3/2009

Historical exhibit at Owens traces teen culture from '30s to now

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
A Smith Corona Coronet Super 12 with power return and a GTE telephone with Nu-Kote black and red ribbon are in the exhibit at Owens. A Smith Corona Coronet Super 12 with power return and a GTE telephone with Nu-Kote black and red ribbon are in the exhibit at Owens.
JETTA FRASER Enlarge

With peace signs, antique radios, and a 1969 Kawasaki motorcycle to greet you, it s easy to be drawn into the Walter E. Terhune Gallery at Owens Community College.

Terrific Teens, which opened last week and runs through July 16, is a historical exhibit that takes a peak into the lives of teenagers from the 1930s to the present. It was created by students from Bowling Green High School and Owens Community College with help from the Wood County Historical Museum.

The best part of this project revolves around the connections these students were able to make with people from the past, whether they were collecting oral histories or artifacts, said Theresa Dunn, who teamteaches with Jennifer Dever the BGHS 10th grade American Studies class that worked on the project.

Students interviewed area residents who grew up in the various decades beginning with the 1930s, talking to them about what life was life and what they did for fun. From those interviews, students chose different topics, found related artifacts, and wrote about the things they learned.

One woman who was interviewed talked about growing up during the Depression when her family had very little money but always had enough to eat because they had a garden and canned fruits and vegetables.

There is an exhibit on canning.

One man who grew up in the 1940s recalled riding his motorcycle with a friend to Minnesota to visit his granmother, prompting a student to lend his prized 1969 Kawasaki for the exhibit.

There s a display focused on 4-H complete with an old sewing machine and homemade dresses.

Another area looks at scouting through older uniforms and scout manuals.

There are yearbooks and trophies, old footballs and bowling balls. There are record players and radios and a television from the 40s with a tiny round screen.

Randy Brown, curator of the Wood County Historical Museum, checked out the exhibit on opening night and was impressed with the students work.

It was interesting to see what they had picked up on because the exhibit is really all over the place. There was Nixon. There was music. There were typewriters, he said, adding that it s great to see kids taking an interest in history in any form.

History is everyday items. It happens to everyday people, Mr. Brown said. If this gets them to realize history is more than military and wars and dates and presidents, that s a good thing.

Ms. Dunn said her students found similarities in teens lives as well as stark differences.

These experiences made them see the teens of other decades as real people, she said. Sometimes they were struck by the incredible similarities as they talked about music and hanging out with friends. At other times, they were struck by the gap, such as the [woman] who mentioned that girls were not allowed to wear pants, only dresses or skirts, to school in the 60s.

Wynn Perry, gallery manager at Owens, said the idea for the exhibit came from the Teen Chicago exhibit sponsored by the Chicago Historical Society and the Chicago History Museum.

Locally, students learned how to examine, write about, and record history. They also learned how to put together displays to make the exhibit appealing to visitors.

Ms. Perry said the exhibit has a little bit of something for everyone.

Adults enjoy it because it reminds us of our childhood, she said. The kids seem to like it because they ve heard their parents and grandparents talk about these things.

The gallery, in Owens center for Fine and Performing Arts, is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Admission is free.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.



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