April 12, 2002 - Strawberries

It's the berries -- and a lot more. It's on a little corner of Ponchatoula, and it's where you can find nearly 200 years of berry lore. Merlyn Wells shows visitors through the little museum where he works. "This quilt is 200 years old. You don't see quilts with that much stitch work in them nowadays. All the antiques and old stuff in the museum have been handed down to the museum by local people. We don't have antiques from all over the country. All of ours are local."

This is the little museum that can. With its hand-me-down memorabilia and antiques, the Collinswood School Museum stands on the main drag of Ponchatoula and lovingly tells the story of its community. And it's folks like Merlyn Wells who keep the doors open.

The museum is run by an all volunteer staff. Merlyn, recently retired from the LSU experimental station, is himself a fourth generation Ponchatoula strawberry farmer. "I can tell you about strawberries!" he says. "One thing about strawberries that a lot of people don't realize is why strawberries did so well in Ponchatoula is because of the pine timber. They used the pine straw to mulch the berries with."

Strawberries are a big part of the museum, of course, but there's a lot more to learn in this old one-room school. The museum is open from 10:00 to 4:00 Fridays and Saturdays and 1:00 to 5:00 on Sundays. Admission is free.