Thursday, August 09, 2007

Seventy Years Ago

My Mom likes to venture out to estate sales and auctions, and she seems to have the best luck: from small items on up to getting a kitchen table, an old steamer trunk that makes a great coffee table and a wonderful antique flip-top desk. Maybe I need to look further, but the antique shops I've found in New England were of the variety that bought the pieces, did the restoration for you and then charged far too much for you to acquire an item. Fun to look around, but goodness knows I wouldn't be buying anything.

I was nosing around my parents house and found an old Diary from 1937 that my Mother had picked up at an estate sale. It is strangely compelling... the writer is a woman whose husband Arthur owned a tavern in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. She doesn't have an entry every day - there are many blank pages. But what is here is an interesting snapshot of life 70 years ago. The daughter, Joan, gets sick several times. "I started to worry about her," laughed my Mom. They go to the theater many times, and the author notes received bowl, or received salt and pepper shakers: a common practice (I am told) in the thirties. It is noted who is on duty at the tavern on specific nights, and Joan's dancing lessons and purchases of dresses and sittings for photographs. Progress on the construction of a new tavern is noted, as well as the day that the Mayor visited to look around. The author's name is never mentioned, although she does note the deaths of various folks around town.

Blogging has some interesting parallels. Some of my favorite blogs are just that - snapshots into the author's life. While I love this new medium and its ability to connect people across the country and across the globe... there is a certain excitement to holding this old volume in my hand and wondering at the author's life. There is something tangible in being able to press into the spine and turn the pages and peer at the faded ink... There are many reasons that people blog. Getting a chance to look at this old book makes me wonder: If I am writing this as a means to keep a record... Should I be making some provisions for what happens to "my little corner of cyberspace" when I am not around? It's hard to imagine someone 70 years from now stumbling across these words. The unknown author I have been reading would probably have said the same thing, I imagine. But it makes me sort of sad.

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