It’s Book Fest time!

loading the stagecoachIt’s September and fall is on its way. Time to think about getting out to see the autumn leaves (if you live in northern climates), putting summer gear away (unless you live in Florida!), and enjoying more indoor activities, like sipping a nice hot cocoa and curling up with a good book.

And because October 8 is often celebrated as National Children’s Day—a day to celebrate our appreciation for children and how precious they are—I encourage you to celebrate the whole month and beyond!

I was reminded of this recently working with other Wells Fargo History Museum curators and historians at the National Book Festival (read more about it here). It was truly an amazing time meeting young (and “young-at-heart”) readers and celebrating with so many families the joy of learning together, particularly through the medium of stories and books.

I have nieces and nephews, but no children of my own—except those I have had the privilege of sharing history with over the last decade by providing educational field trips at our San Francisco museum. At the Festival, it was so inspiring to see children get excited about learning, families reading together, and our Wells Fargo museum team sharing stories and activities throughout the weekend.

A couple of moments that highlight ways we celebrate children at the event stand out. Perhaps the biggest was getting to work with my debonair colleague, Casey, who manages our History Museum in Old Town, San Diego.

Casey autographsDressed in period costume with a flair for story-telling, he mesmerized everyone with tales of Black Bart, the famous bandit who robbed our Wells Fargo stagecoaches 29 times. He regaled the story of how our Wells Fargo Chief of Detectives James Hume relentlessly pursued this bandit over the course of 8 years. In a deep baritone, he verbalized a poem Black Bart wrote and left at the scene of the crime.

Audiences sat enthralled as Casey pulled out of his back pocket a single, white handkerchief—a replica of the “evidence” that eventually led to Black Bart’s capture (the “PO8″). At the end of the talk, we gave children “Wells Fargo Agent” stickers as honorary agents for the day.

Casey also stepped in to handle a few book readings on Day 2 for author Deborah Hopkinson, who could not be there that day. Again, he captivated the audience with the story and songs from the book “Stagecoach Sal”, based on the true story of a Wells Fargo teenaged female stagecoach driver. Kids sang along with him such famous songs as “Polly Wolly Doodle” and “Shoo Fly.”

In fact, Casey so delighted the young guests that they asked for his autograph afterwards! He had to explain to the families that he did not write the book and was only standing in to read for the author. But the children insisted he sign their own copies of “Stagecoach Sal,” so he obliged by signing as the “Reader.”

Book Fest Stars!As I watched, I was rewarded with a most touching scene: Seated next to Casey was a young boy who had stayed next to him the entire time he was signing books. Unlike others waiting to get their turn, he began putting “Wells Fargo Agent” stickers all over himself. It was the cutest thing—it was as though he wanted to be a Super Wells Fargo Agent!

So in honor of National Children’s Day, let’s take time out to read a book and sing a song or two or three with them. And may that young boy’s exuberant spirit inspire us to welcome the fall season with a joyful heart!

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Guided By History

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