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Copyright 2009-2010 by
Mary Brotherton
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Inside my Brain

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Thursday, February 24, 2005

My First Published Work

I'm very proud of my first published for pay article. Somehow it feels better to have been paid, though the first time I saw my name in a publiccation for simply "honorable mention:, my heart soared! The following was written for Senior Life of Florida, a monthly newspaper.

Pioneering Women Take Center Stage

For the first time in its 30 year history, the Brevard Museum
of History and Natural Science remains open on the Fourth of July. In
addition to the permanent exhibits, and special events including patriotic
music, a petting zoo, special food, and rides, museum visitors will find a
unique exhibit which will only be on display until September 30th. This
exhibit honors the strength and pioneer spirit of Selina Mole Roberts, whose
diary inspired the exhibit.

Visitors can see for themselves what life was like in 19th
Century Brevard County, when men earned 50 cents a day for their hard labor,
and women struggled to stretch and supplement the family income. The staff
and creative volunteers at the Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science
have used Mrs. Roberts' memoirs, some family heirlooms, and their love for
history to recreate the story of life in a Turpentine and Mineral Spirits
Camp, an early citrus grove, and even a portion of the family home which
still stands near

The special exhibit honoring the courage and ingenuity of
Selina Roberts and all pioneering women is only part of what makes this
Museum a remarkable and memorable place to visit. As a teenager, Selina
Mole worked in
London as governess for a wealthy family and she was beloved
by her prosperous farming family. When she was 21 years old, Selina married
Harry Roberts and together they moved from
New York to Florida in 1874.

Selina and Harry lived in what her English family would have considered a
shack and she had to wash dishes for the crude and unkempt workers of the
Turpentine Camp her brother-in-law ran. The harsh life and strange foods
made the young bride homesick for
Harry worked in grueling conditions from sunrise to sunset to
bring home less than a dollar a day. Although she was raised on a farm, the
young woman had never had to face the hostile environment of
, and she wrote of her sadness, despair, and determination in her
diary. Selina and Harry dealt with wild beasts, snakes, and hordes of
mosquitoes, but they planned for a future life of luxury and planted an
orange grove to help fulfill that dream.

Unfortunately, they had staked out their homestead on someone
else's property and had to move and start all over. Thirteen years after
their marriage, they completed their home near
Titusville, and started
taking in boarders for $5 a week.

Their daughters became successful as teachers, and their son
became the first banker of
Titusville. Lillian Carver of Mims is Selina
Mole Roberts' granddaughter and she inherited the memoirs her grandmother
wrote at the age of 72. These memoirs were recently presented to the
Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science, and are the basis for its
very special exhibit which is a tribute to the early pioneer women of
Brevard County.

The Brevard Museum of History and Natural Science portrays life
Brevard County with permanent displays which take visitors from the first
settler through history to the first Space Shuttle launch. The museum has a
special Discovery Room for children where touching and exploring are highly
encouraged. Although visitors may want to explore the displays for hours,
the museum is not confined to the building. An enchanting butterfly garden
graces the building; three Nature trails across 22 acres and a Pavilion
complete the museum experience.

The Brevard Museum is an exciting place to visit, and many
visitors return frequently to work as volunteers as the museum has grown
over the years. The museum is currently seeking volunteers of all ages who
are interested in laughing while learning, and having fun while providing a
valuable service. JaNeen Smith, the museum's Executive Director said, "We
are expecting many tour buses this summer, and we are in need of more
docents to help guide the tours." She then explained that docents are
volunteer tour guides who are trained by the museum staff and are very
important to the museum. The Brevard Museum of History and Science needs
storytellers, readers, docents/ tour guides, researchers, gardeners,
historians, and people who would prefer to stay in the background to clean
the collections. Mrs. Smith also said, "We really need someone who would
like to work with our younger visitors in the Discovery Room. We'd love to
get a retired teacher to volunteer some time on Saturdays." Volunteers can
be shy or outgoing, young or old, and can work any hours they choose. The
museum has two volunteer training sessions scheduled for August where museum
staff will give an overview of the museum and
Brevard County's history and
help the volunteers find their niche. "We would never ask someone to do
something he or she might not be comfortable doing," Mrs. Smith said. "We
want our volunteers to be happy here with us. We have one couple who has
volunteered with the museum for 18 years. That's because they enjoy what
they are doing here." Mrs. Smith stressed that volunteers do not need to
know anything about museums or Brevard County before signing up to help, and
that those who want to learn more, will have access to the resources they
would need.

Connie Rodda is an artist who volunteers at the Brevard Museum.
Along with several other volunteers, she spends time planning, designing,
and building sets and exhibits. Every four months they begin creating a new
exhibit. Connie painted many of the background murals for the Pioneer Women
exhibit. She said, "Where else can you paint all day for a week with all
the paints and materials given to you?" It took her about a week to paint
the landscape background for the turpentine tree exhibit. "I did it for the
satisfaction," she said proudly.

In addition to the sociable docents and volunteers who work
behind the scenes painting and setting up exhibits or keeping the many
collections clean and dust-free, is the Museum Guild. The members of the
guild help with fund raising and special events. Assistant Director, Odalys
Smith said, "I can't tell you how much we appreciate our Museum Guild. They
provide a very valuable service to us."

The Brevard Museum of History and Science in Cocoa is open seven
days a week. The hours on Monday through Saturday are
10:00 am ­- 4:00 pm,
and on Sundays the museum is open from
Noon until 4:00 pm. If you would
like to learn more about volunteering or about the museum and its exhibits,
or how to reserve the Pavilion, call 321-632-1830.

The Brevard Museum of History and Science is located at 2201
Michigan Avenue
in Cocoa, Florida, and is sponsoring two unique raffles this
summer. Visitors can purchase raffle tickets for a gourmet and historical
book basket or a 1985 Jaguar XJ6. Raffle tickets are tax deductible and all
proceeds benefit the museum.