VILONIA — First-grade girls wearing sweaters, ponytails and pink poodle skirts and first-grade boys sporting ducktails and painted-on sideburns, participating in hoola hoop contests as well as spinning records and dancing the jitterbug, were the scenes Friday at Vilonia Elementary School.
Students were celebrating 50 days of learning with a 1950s theme. Teachers also dressed the part wearing letterman jackets, saddle shoes, scarves, bobby socks and cat eye glasses. Students in the classroom of teacher Michelle Young spent the morning learning about the past.
The children were introduced to toys from the past including paper dolls, Barbie dolls, Mr. Potato Heads, Slinkies and Silly Putty. They listened to music, talked about black and white photographs, clothing and hairstyles as well as the difference in people. One little boy voiced that he didn’t see that much difference. One little girl pointed out that the women all had "pretty big hair."
Teacher Lori Christian and her class hosted a visit by Shane Dyson, a collector of vintage items. His son Brayden is a class member.
Dyson passed around books such as The Princess and the Pea. He showed the children comic books, picture cubes.
"There were no transformers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles back then," he told the class. "Books were a little different too."
He talked to the kids about Roy Rogers and his horse named Trigger.
"He was a real cowboy," Dyson said.
One little girl raised her hand and said her Poppa knows all about Roy Rogers.
He touched on other stars such as Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, who starred in the movie "Pardners." And, Ma and Pa Kettle and their many movies.
He spent several minutes talking about music from the 50s era. He talked about Buddy Holly, Hank Williams Jr. and Bill Haley, who he said, was the real father of Rock and Roll. He passed around record albums and allowed the children to look and touch.
One child taking a record from its cover said "this is the biggest CD I’ve ever seen."
Dyson also played the vinyl records on a record player that he brought with him.
"A lot of elderly people didn’t like Rock and Roll," Dyson told the children. "They thought it was bad music."
The song "Rock Around the Clock" by Haley and the Comets may have broke down some of the barriers though, he explained.
In conclusion, Dyson, 29, told the students although he wasn’t born in the 50s, "this is the stuff that I grew up on."
He said he was following in his mother, Lynette’s footsteps, buying vintage items from flea markets — continuing to share history with his children.
"I’m trying to raise my kids under this influence," Dyson said.
"My mother grew up with this. I grew up with this and so will my kids." His entire family, he said, enjoys gathering and watching westerns and listening to older recording artists such as Faron Young, Hank Williams Jr. and Johnny Horton.
Completing his presentation, Dyson said, "This was just a great thing and I enjoyed sharing my stuff."
During the afternoon, a hallway leading between the classes was transformed into a space for a Sock Hop with teachers and students all getting in on the fun.