Architecture: Creating Cool Drive Through Education for Your Family
Anna and family enjoy ice cream in downtown Tyler.Enjoying ice cream in front of two of our favorite architectural history lessons, the People’s Petroleum Building and the Plaza Tower.

Architecture creates cool drive-through education moments for your family. (I was going to say “drive-by” but that sounded dangerous.)

Anna co-hosted with me recently so we could come up with some ideas to encourage parents who are tapping their fingernails in anxiety about how (or whether) schools open this fall. 

Do thoughts of homeschooling prompt a craving for a refreshing adult beverage? What if education could be as easy as picking up dinner in a drive-through window?

In fact, educating with architecture is easy-peasy and oh-so-fun! (For easy, spontaneous homeschooling ideas and lesson plans, click here.)

Summer is a great time to point out architecture while you tell the stories of family and faith in your region. Buildings tell the American story in visually dramatic ways. Take our hometown, downtown Tyler, Texas for instance.

In this episode, Anna shared so much more than I can fit into one blog. For more of her fun ideas about teaching history through architecture and personal stories about her hilarious kids, go to Fireside Talk Radio or

Mid-Century Modern Resurgence

Mid-century modern has become the thing everyone likes now. But when I was growing up, nobody wanted it. Our local courthouse is a prime example. In my childhood, people were grieving the destruction of the classic courthouse built in 1851 as Tyler’s first brick structure. 

By the 1970s, folks resented the clean lines of the new modern courthouse built in 1954 just over a hundred years after the first one. People talked of tearing down the new courthouse and building something beautiful in its place. 

But as Anna pointed out, “New is not always better.”

I don’t know if the current courthouse will survive our county government’s growing demand for updated space. But, as young leaders take their place in civic discussions I expect sentiment to grow for preserving our courthouse’s mid-century modern beauty.

For more about how Architecture Provides Down Home Drive Through Education, click here.

To read the full article, click here. 

Architecture, Kids and Driving Through Town

As you drive by, simply asking good questions can prompt a terrific conversation. What hints do you get about what was happening when that building was built? How did that era inspire the architect? What do you notice about the building’s design?

We also like frontier towns and living history villages for prompting our kids’ imagination. What did farmers use before the tractor? Why were there ceiling fans in every room? Where did the dogs sleep at night? What dangers existed for frontier families?

Architecture, Furniture, Family Stories and No Air-Conditioning

Walking through the living room can trigger stories tied to architecture and furniture. For example, the beautiful little cedar trunk in Anna’s entry hall once held all Mema’s worldly possessions. 

My mom grew up in a small Texas cottage built in the early 1900s. Their Fort Worth pier and beam house only had a bedroom for her parents. Until they added on, their first child slept in the family room with her clothes in the trunk at the end of her bed. 

“I’ve been told that story my whole life. Based on that one piece of furniture, I know what kind of house my grandmother grew up in,” says Anna. And lots more about her great-grandparents. I remember that cottage well from my early childhood.

My grandparents also told stories from prohibition about the police coming to their house and knocking on the door. When the door opened, the smell of hops gave away my grandparents’ home-brewed, bathtub beer. 

When Texas temperature began to rise, the beer bottles began blowing their corks. Beer ran down the fronts of all the kitchen cabinets where Meme and Grandaddy hid their stash.

Memories and Claw-foot Bathtubs

As a child, I bathed in that big claw-footed bathtub. I guess I was a pretty grimy kid because I never understood how you could drink a beverage made in that tub.

“You know the history I learned as a kid from that story. I learned when prohibition was and the fact that they didn’t have air-conditioning during that era,” Anna reports. “Because if they’d had air-conditioning the bottles wouldn’t have pressurized and exploded and the police wouldn’t have come.”

Called to a gunfight, the policemen were relieved when the crisis turned out to be exploding beer. Off-duty, the police came back later for a brew. Wild times in Texas.

Staying Cool

One thing our family always liked about that story was the way my grandparents stayed cool and invited the police in for a little hospitality. 

“In junior high or high school when I got that American history book and I learned about prohibition, I already knew that word,” Anna says. “When they started talking about the mobs and how some of the organized crime arose in the big cities during prohibition, I totally followed all of that because of that family history story, which was based on architecture and a piece of furniture in my house.”

My grandparents were hard-working people, not gangsters, just to clarify. Plus, they made most of the luxury items they ever had, including beer during prohibition apparently. My mother’s graduations from college marked a milestone for her family.

“If all you ever read is national history, it’s hard to connect to as a child,” says Anna. “But if you hear some of your family stories or the local stories about the local courthouse, then when you hear the national stories, there’s a segue, a connection.”

Well, apparently air-conditioning is a connecting theme for me today, especially since its a hundred degrees outside. Thank you for reading to the end and for chuckling with me about our family’s antics.

Please know how much we love and appreciate YOU! Anna and I hope you, too, stay cool and find ways to bless people with open hearts, hopefully without any exploding beer!

May we pray together?

Dear Father, open our eyes and hearts to see how blessed we truly are. Give us grateful hearts, blessed by sharing with each other. Teach us to honor You in all our words and actions. As we drive through our towns and cities, remind us to be grateful and pray for our leaders. We love You, O Lord, our true King. In Jesus’s name, we pray. Amen.

We LOVE to hear from YOU!

What is your favorite building and why? When you look around your hometown, what do you see? What history lesson changed your life? Where are the buildings that house your family stories?

Coming Soon

Big announcement: a Series with People who Write Devotionals!! Some of my favorite young authors join me to talk truth with a capital T, including Brooke Frick and Lindsey Bell.  Author and mathematics genius, Dr. Angie Ruark graces the show soon, too!

You will love these rising stars in the publishing world. Their faith, wisdom, and devotion to God and family inspire me so much! 

Plus, Sarah Van Hook joins me soon. Talk about inspiring! So you won’t miss a thing, sign up for our stuff here. It’s all free and fun to pass on to your friends!

Cathy Krafve, Columnist, Speaker, Blogger, Podcaster, and Christian Writer, invites your stories, ideas, and questions at Truth with a Texas Twang.

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