Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Patina of age

(this is an edited cross-over post with my personal blog, but the topic fits the group)
...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. The term "hoarder" is getting such bad press lately, and the focus has been on extreme cases of crisis hoarding, so I am going to call myself a Fancier of things instead!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. I always find it curious that items such as these make their way to public retail spaces.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...

Do I need these items in my home? No! But, I am not a crisis hoarder (though I do struggle with crafting clutter), and I see a possible crafting potential in these items. What is your collecting weakness? Are you drawn to items such as these as well?




  1. We bought a misc. lot at auction about a year ago, and included in it were dozens of very old photos of someone else's life (weddings and formal portraits) and land title documents and receipts from the early 1900s. I couldn't bring myself to throw them out, and don't do paper crafts, so my daughter eagerly took them. It's amazing what you can learn from a few pieces of paper.

    I'm glad I live in a smallish house, as there is no room to keep a lot of stuff!

  2. What a cool treasure to uncover! I think that is so sad that photos get separated from the those who are in them and the stories associated with them get lost (that's the scrapbooker in me I guess).