This past summer I visited a few local museums. I loved every minute of my time in each of them. This post contains a few photos from my visits. They are photos I captured because I was drawn to not only the history of the items but to their character, and resilience.
My favorite show on television is American Pickers. That may be surprising for some of you who have come to know me as a strong lover of, and advocate for Nova Scotia. But, I can't wait to watch those boys from Iowa discover “rusty gold” on the back roads of America every Thursday night.
Why? Mike Wolfe and Frank Fitz have an infectious respect and appreciation for history. They take the time to learn about the people who own the treasures they find, and to learn the stories behind the items. The business they run as pickers is called Antique Archeology. The title is more than appropriate; they make a living out of unearthing the past. Their job as pickers is to rummage through old barns, garages, falling down buildings, and attics, to find old forgotten treasures. They make a living out of sharing the history these items represent.
I enjoy seeing how the items they discover can be repurposed and restored. Items are saved from landfills in many cases. And, the items they find and sell are reducing the current use of precious resources. The people who buy items such as an old trunk turned into a coffee table, or a lamp pole rewired with a modern shade, are not only reducing resources but preserving and honoring the past. Kudos to those folks!
Mike and Frank talk about how each item they find tells a story. And each item they find does. The items they find which are often made of iron, steel, glass, wood, or porcelain do tell a story because they have lasted for many decades. They tell a story not only of the industry that produced them, but the lives that used them.
These days too many items are often made to last only a short time. They are often, to my dismay, marketed as disposable. And, if not marketed as disposable, they should be, because that is essentially the case.
I very frequently feel as though I was born in the wrong century. Or that in a past life I lived happily among folks who were the inspiration for Lucy Maud Montgomery’s characters Marilla and Matthew Cuthburt.
My respect for and appreciation of the ways of the past stem from a few areas. I grew up in a very rural part of Nova Scotia, where exposure to new and innovative things was sometimes limited, or delayed. Also, I had older parents; much older than any of my friends. My friends’ grandparents in almost all cases are younger than my parents. I am 34 and if my father were alive he would be 88 this year. I am both thankful and regretful of this. Thankful mostly, for the lessons in resourcefulness and respect that were instilled in me from an early age.
Another huge influence for me is Anne of Green Gables; the spunky red-head from Prince Edward Island. Growing up, the movie Anne of Green Gables, or the television series Road to Avonlea, seemed to play on repeat on the local television stations. I have watched the movie and read the book Anne of Green Gables more times than I could count. I often watch with envy of Anne, and the era in which her story was set. I watch and appreciate the modest dresses, the hand written notes to Marilla and Matthew when she was away in college, and the respectful manner in which the characters spoke to one another.
I often find myself surrounded by people who are constantly looking to the future. Who are full of ideas bursting at the seams, ready to move onto the next idea, or the next innovation. I on the other hand am so respectful of and inspired by the past that I sometimes wish they would slow down and look back instead of ahead. There is so much to be learned from the past, and the people who have paved the way for our generations. Change is good, but not in every case.
I of course enjoy the many modern conveniences at my disposal. I enjoy and use current technology. But frankly, I am far more excited if I receive a hand written note in the mail than when I learn about yet another new edition of an iphone or other mobile device. I sometimes resent the person who first created a TV diner or video game. Personally, I think about how we would be so much healthier and happier if neither of those things had been invented. Imagine healthy meals with no preservatives on the table every night for supper, everywhere around North America, not in just a few homes here and there. Or imagine all children being active outdoors on a regular basis. You know, the place with the warm sun and fresh air. Where the only quick movements to stimulate their brain are things like bees buzzing past, or birds flying overhead.
I am writing this on a Thursday. In a few hours I am going to curl up on my sofa and watch Mike and Frank pick through old barns, attics, and garages full of forgotten treasures. I will enjoy watching their passion and enthusiasm as they connect with the past, and help others do the same.
Is there something from the past that you would like to see more of today? I bet there is. I’d love to hear about it in the comments below. What forgotten treasures do you miss, and why? Or, what inspires you from decades past?