Dusting off history

The Fort gets a seasonal once-over by eager volunteers

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Linda Cervene, of Fort Dodge, uses a modern duster on a display mannequin Saturday morning during Cleanup Day at the Fort Museum and Frontier Village. Jo Johnson, of Fort Dodge, at left, works with a more period-appropriate straw broom.

Volunteers Linda Cervene and Jo Johnson, both of Fort Dodge, attacked the same dust and grime Saturday with tools from two different eras.

After all, there was a winter’s worth of dirt at the Fort Museum & Frontier Village.

The tools? An old-school straw broom for Johnson and a modern, chemically-treated duster for Cervene that earned her the nickname “The Swifter.”

The two were among the volunteers who answered the call for a cleanup day.

Cervene was happy to help.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Volunteer furniture duster Ben Newton, of Fort Dodge, makes sure everything is just so Saturday morning during Cleanup Day at the Fort Museum & Frontier Village.

“I’m all for it,” she said. “They need the volunteers. Plus, you feel better about giving when you do something for the community.”

Misty Mackay, a staff member at the Museum, does not get to say “I don’t do windows.”

“I do do windows,” she said. “I’m hands-on out here.”

As she assigned volunteers to tasks that did, in fact, include cleaning windows, she reminded them that they would have a unique opportunity.

“This is your one chance to touch the artifacts,” she said.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Misty Mackay, Fort Museum & Frontier Village staff member, works on cleaning some of the windows in the east gallery Saturday morning during Cleanup Day at the Fort.

Luane Xiao, of Fort Dodge, appreciated that aspect even though she started on the inside of the windows while Mackay worked on the outside.

“It’s pretty cool,” she said.

She was glad to get to know the Fort again.

“I just really love volunteering,” she said. “I haven’t been here in a long time. It’s a great opportunity to see our town’s past.”

For Ben Newton, of Fort Dodge, a day working at the Fort was sort of a reunion.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Museum & Frontier Village Curator Heather Jensen works on sweeping the floor in one of the displays Saturday morning during Cleanup Day.

“I used to volunteer here when I was a teen,” Newton said. “I come back to help out.”

He liked getting behind the rope and up close and personal with the artifacts.

“It’s like touching history,” he said. “We need to keep our history alive.”

Museum Curator Heather Jensen opted for a modern broom, plus a plastic bucket containing a modern wood cleaning and preservation solution.

No straw broom for her.

“I could have made my own,” she said, “but I didn’t have time. We have to open.”

She was happy to see the volunteers.

“It means they care about the history as much as we do,” she said.

The Fort Museum & Frontier Village opens for the season on May 3.