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6.09.2009

A little piece of the past: Vintage Vignettes

When I started this blog, I wanted to use it partially to bring bits of history to light. The bits of history we come across every day, the captured moments we find in an item from our past...whether it belonged to us or not. I first fell in love with *history* in 4th grade, the year we learned about California history, and my class was lucky enough to take an overnight field trip to Sutter's Fort, where we dressed like pioneers, worked in the different Fort facilities, making candles, baking bread, selling and buying wares, cooking for 40 or so people, and even standing guard for one shift in the middle of the night. It definitely was the impetus for this ongoing love affair I have with all things related to history.  I'm not an expert at California or American history, but I can tell you there is a story behind every item you see in the antique shop. The small material possessions that we all have are the things that make up our lives - the permanence that will remain long after we are gone (luckily, most of our antiques are not plastic - too bad for our grandchildren...).

Right after my sophomore year of college, I decided to take a year off from school because I still had no idea what I would major in, a decision that was weighing on me and had to be decided soon, at the beginning of my junior year. One Saturday morning I was passing a yard sale where I spied an old, wooden, stand-up radio. This was a piece of furniture - and gorgeous! I somehow attained it for only $15 and the man I bought it from helped me lift it into the trunk of my car. Somehow or another I found out it was a 1929 Atwater-Kent. I found some fabric I liked and re-upholstered the hole in the wood that sat in front of the speaker. The electronic radio parts no longer worked - but no matter ( I kept them but never tried to get it fixed), I used it as a furniture piece in my bedroom, for my things - jewelry, perfume - above which a mirror was placed. Once I even put my current stereo inside and a small speaker where the old speaker had been (not that the sound quality was great through the layers of fabric). On the top of this old radio there was a ring stain - made from a glass of water? A vase of flowers? A vodka tonic? Who knows...but this stain held a story - this stain was the evidence of someone's life - the original owner of the radio perhaps.....I could picture a woman in a dress, standing near the radio. She places her glass of water - still wet on the outside - onto the radio's wood top, as she leans down to push the ottoman in front of her easy chair. She wants to get comfortable for the evening radio show. She goes back to the radio to get her glass of water and sits in her chair for her show. Later, when her show is over, she is about to turn off the lamp that sits on the radio, she sees the ring of water there. "Darn," she thinks, and starts to rub it off, but she can see the stain has already set...

Well, who knows. But this is my imagination, running wild around objects of the past as it always does. I suppose this little ring stain figured it's way into my life and helped me decide that year off to major in history. And now, as I'm about to go back to school in the fall to finish a Master's in Public History, I want to infuse it into my life in some different ways, different from visiting museums or reading books. And this is where you all come in.

So here goes...I am starting a little collection on this blog called "Vintage Vignettes" - which is something like what I've done above, but very wide open. I want to collect stories from the past, vignettes really, just scenes from lives.  This can be in the form of a photograph, a memory you have (needs to be at least 20 years old), or a story you have from a grandparent's life. This can be an item mentioned that we no longer use in every day life, even a thought you may have on how people once lived before the modern day (see Blue Yonder's Blue Blazes for example!), an oral history interview you were lucky enough to participate in, an antique or vintage item you just had to have because...? It has to be personal though. That is the only caveat. No stories about a history exhibit you saw, unless, say, some item stood out to you for some reason, and you want to write about that particular thing as it relates to your life. If you desire, please write these in your blogs (please link back to this entry so other people can participate), let me know, and I will post that entry into my sidebar under "Vintage Vignettes." If it is a photograph you want to post, please become a member of the Flicker Group Vintage Vignettes and post your photo there! Please add a title/caption and some description to give it a sense of time and/or place. This is all about telling stories, whether they be true or "tales out of school" this is the place for them. Share/tell as many as you'd like. They can be short (1-2 sentences) or long (whatever your blogsite will hold!) I will be doing this too, my goal is to make this a regular post, or at least as often as they come to me - I may choose a day for this. Sunday seems like a nice, dreamy day for vintage - but we'll see!  Please have fun with this! I can't wait to read your stories and see your photos! 

(by the way, if you do not have a blog but want to participate, please email me your story and I will post it in one of my entries, crediting you. Then I will place that day's entry under the sidebar "Vintage Vignettes." Make sure to give your story a title!)

1 comment:

Joy Discovered said...

I like the vintage vignette you shared with us today! Thank you!