Dr. Ron Brooks was an educator for many years but always had an interest in history. He brings education and history together as a member of the Peter Allen Players and in giving representations of historical figures.
The Peter Allen Players will present a program on Victorian courtship as part of a tea at 2 p.m. June 5 at the Peter Allen Inn in Kinsman.
“I talk about Victorian courtships and what went on, and Dr. (Gregory) George talks about the Edwardian period and how it (courtship) changed rapidly during the Edwardian period,” said Brooks, of Brookfield.
“In my presentation, we talk about Victorian customs, how the young man and woman courted each other and what was permitted and what wasn’t permitted. We do the secret of the fans. During the Victorian cotillions or balls they would have fans, the women, and there were like 20-some secret messages that fans could relate, like putting a fan closed a certain side of the face and that means, ‘I have no use for you. Go away. I don’t wanna be bothered.’ There were different ways to signal a young man, ‘Yes, you can come and approach me.’ Then it goes into Edwardian, how it changed rapidly. Women could actually go unchaperoned, which in the Victorian era was never permitted.”
The Peter Allen Players also produce programs on Valentine’s Day, Victorian spiritualism, Clarence Darrow and Charles Dickens that they perform at the inn, the 1821 Federal-style home built by the doctor who was lured to the area by Dr. Simon Perkins and John Kinsman. They also present a historical fashion show, and incorporate period fashions and props, and the language of the time.
“The Peter Allen Players are a very narrow niche,” Brooks said. “We do everything historically, and we try to connect it to local history in the best way that we can.”
Aside from the Peter Allen Inn, Brooks has worked with the Trumbull County Historical Society and the Summit County Historical Society to present one-man shows on Perkins and David Tod, Ohio’s governor during the Civil War.
“I was fortunate enough to know David Tod II; he’s the great-grandson of the Civil War governor,” Brooks said. “He lives in Hudson. I sat with him many times and his books that he has on the family, and I got a lot of information from him.”
Brooks’ nearly 40-year career in education included teaching elementary education and filling administrative and central office roles in Cleveland; Los Angeles; Norton, Ohio; and Geauga County. He then taught math for 14 years at Lake Erie College in Painesville, and chaperoned LEC students to England each year to study English education.
“My undergraduate major was elementary ed, but I had just as many hours in history, and I’ve always been interested in history,” he said.