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Family Valued 9.7.05

Hello dad, I'm in jail

Built in 1854 as the Wayne County jail and sheriff's residence, the Museum of Wayne County History retains its original charm, including 24 jail cells. Jail cells charming? At the end of my kids' summer vacation, you bet they are.

Like every jail, this one's got a rat. He can't do any snitching because he's plastic. But he looks so realistic, I gave my son a dollar to enter the shower room ahead of me. I'm pretty sure that if money changes hand, it's a commercial transaction, not child abuse.

If he were a real prisoner, I bet the rat would have demanded art supplies. Prisoners' drawings are preserved on the walls of the common areas. A pin-up girl, a 1950s rockabilly guy, and Davy Crockett --- complete with coonskin cap and bear --- remind us the jail held prisoners through 1961.

Joseph O'Toole, the museum's dynamic new executive director, explained that the sheriff's wife prepared all meals for the prisoners, as well as for her family and visitors to the sheriff's office. Which begs the question, who was the real prisoner?

Other exhibits include women's history, Lyons pottery and, through September 18, the excellent In Their Words: Wayne County Soldiers in the Civil War.

The Museum of Wayne County History is located at 21 Butternut Street in Lyons. It's open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday until 8 p.m., Sunday 12 to 4 p.m. Admission: $4 for adults, $2 for students. Info at www.waynehistory.org or call 315-946-4943.

--- Linda Kostin (www.junkstorecowgirl.com)

Fighting words

"Ask them," one of the kids urged at dinner a week before school was to start.

"Is it okay to hit someone if they hit you first?" our youngest child asked. For the first time in his life, he was dreading school.

"Yes!" his father and I cried in unison.

"But you said war and violence is bad."

He's right but we're at our wits' end. This one boy in school has been slapping, punching, and kicking the other boys for years. When I asked the teacher about it last year she shrugged.

"He won't stop," she said. "What are you going to do?" The boy's mother responds mildly when she sees him in action. The other kids can't believe it.

"Mrs. --- saw him push that girl down and she just said, 'Oh, J---, now don't do that,'" one little boy told my son in disbelief. I'm reluctant to go to the principal because she hasn't addressed other bullying problems in the school. One frustrated parent will call the police if violence on the school bus continues this year. I wonder, is the school as frightened of this boy as the children are?

This year our school preparations included labeling our son's supplies and teaching him how to punch. We also fantasized, privately, about what we wish we could do to that little shit and to the adults who aren't protecting our child.

--- Anonymous