Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Patina of Age

...always invites my senses to explore and my mind to dream. I don't know if it is so with everybody, but those of us who are packrats (okay, hoarders)...nay, FANCIERS of things are drawn to aged goods like rats to the flute.Yesterday, I ran across a box of old papers next to a box of old photographs in the "junk" store. I am always fascinated by old used postcards, old letters, old photos, and other items of a personal nature. In the same manner, I have enjoyed non-fiction personal narrative books, like Pepys' (pronounced Peeps) diary.In this box of papers, I found an envelope from The First National Bank of Ashland, Oregon containing a statement and several canceled checks. What fun to be afforded a glimpse into the world of 1936 personal finance. The study of history in itself was always frightfully dull to me, but artifacts showing a snapshot of the history of a person I can see in my mind make it ever more interesting.This person had more money in his bank account than I have at times had altogether in lean times. He had a wife (some of the checks are signed by "Mrs.". He had people in Colorado (the back of the canceled check above bears a Colorado stamp). Items that were also in the junk box included a letter from someone in Colorado, a marriage announcement in Oregon, and a high school report card. These ranged in time from 1919 to 1936.

From these items, I can construct a life and a past and a future and all manner of life events for this person. My dormant writer's mind is intrigued. Writing a fictional account of the life of this "character" would take me to an in-depth exploration of the history of 1900 through 1940 that would, in that context, be anything but dull. History teachers take heed: You could have had me if you had only produced a letter, a locket, a ribbon-tied stack of recipes...

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2 comments:

Splendid Little Stars said...

inspiring! Yes, I DO agree! I always had a difficult time with history when presented as an accumulation of dates, names, and facts. But to explore the lives of individuals...! And then to put that individual's life in the context of the times--now that is interesting!
I have loved old photographs for I don't know how long. I am always drawn to them. I have a postcard collection that dates back to my childhood. Those are fun to read.

tamdoll said...

Glad I followed your comment back here from my blog, thanks for stopping by!

I used to haunt a local antique store - and your post reminds me of the things I'd take home - it wasn't the old cookbooks that I loved, but the owner would set aside for me the scraps of handwritten recipes that would fall out of the bindings. Or the newspaper clippings - I loved to see what people wrote on them, or what was part of that era.