Roaming Roanoke: Salem Museum Video Series

Do you put a model train around your Christmas tree? Have you ever wondered where the idea started? Keep reading and you can find out!

This week Roaming Roanoke is doing something a little different. We are visiting somewhere from home – the Salem Museum’s two online video series, White Glove Wednesday and Around Town!

I hope everyone had an enjoyable Thanksgiving however you and your family chose to celebrate. Thanksgiving 2020 will most likely be remembered because of the pandemic and how it changed celebrations. Let’s face it, the year 2020 will probably have a lot of chapters in future history books (you know we will be talking about 2020 for decades). So, while we are living in a historical year, what a great time to also learn more about the region’s history!

The Salem Museum has been helping us do just that! Assistant Director Alex Burke created two online video series called White Glove Wednesdays and Around Town. White Glove Wednesday highlights artifacts and objects inside the museum (posted every Wednesday, hence the name). Around Town is on Fridays where Alex visits a site and tells of its history. 

Alex Burke said, “These two series started in March as a response to the Covid-19 shutdown.  With the suddenness of the shutdown, I came up with the idea to keep the Salem Museum in the public eye and continue to be a historical resource for Salem. When visitors can’t come to the museum, you take the museum to them!  What was originally planned as a small 8 video series has since turned into two full seasons with nearly 50 history lessons, and still counting!”

The two series have covered everything from the railroad to wars to sports to fashion in the region and highlighted landmarks such as wartime significant sites, Lakeside Amusement Park, Longwood, schools, hotels, cemeteries, you name it, Alex has probably covered it! Do you ever wonder why people started putting model trains around Christmas trees? Alex knows and explains it in the latest video.

“A lot of things go into deciding what we have featured. The two most important things that I look for are what objects and places have the best story or unique, unknown facts about them and what objects or locations can help the community and schools learn, understand and engage with history more. Obviously, important anniversaries play a role as well, especially with our special out of season videos,” Burke told us.

Thanksgiving week was the “season finale” for both series with the holiday season here. Burke plans to start it again next year. 

For someone like me who did not grow up here, it has been fascinating learning the history of places we drive by or visit and seeing all of the historic artifacts and region’s history. The videos are short, around two minutes each, so they are great for my young kids to watch and learn from as well. 

Burke told us he wants these to be fun and educational for all ages! “Originally, these were planned as an attempt to continue to engage the public and serve as a distraction from the craziness of Covid and the “2 week shutdown,” but once we realized that the quarantine would be much longer than expected, we continued the series to help educate the public and provide materials for the schools. The end of the year is when a lot of local schools teach local history and since this most likely was going to be drastically changed, we wanted to provide some sort of resource for the teachers and students of Salem to help learn local history. History isn’t just in big cities far away from here, these videos also serve as a reminder that history is all around us, often in hidden, unknown locations and artifacts.”

Even though White Glove Wednesday and Around Town online series are temporarily halting for the holiday season, you can still watch all of them at any time on the Salem Museum website and click on the “History All Around Us: Video Tours” link! They are all FREE!

Roaming Roanoke will be all about Christmas in December! We have many, many events in the region, and we plan to get to as many as we can! If you have any requests for holiday events for us to visit, please let me know!

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Angela Evans

Angela Evans is a former tv reporter turned stay-at-home mom. She and her husband Cody have three children. They moved to Virginia in 2018. When she’s not Roaming Roanoke, she is probably drinking sweet tea, reading a book or dancing.
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