Monday, 19 January 2009

Museum, Here I Come.

The City Museum & Records Office have been collecting recordings as part of an Oral History programme, and for the last couple of hours I've been answering a standard set of questions on the subject of 'Generations'. Their aim is to record and archive material which can then be used as an educational resource, once it has been transcribed to form part of an on-line computerised catalogue available to all.

It's a strange feeling to sit here knowing I'm about to be 'Archived', or at least , some of my words and a few family photos. The subject of generations is the last of several themes which have been addressed since 2004, in order to give an idea of changes in attitudes and conditions of ordinary local people. I believe they've already covered topics like health, food, crime, costume, music, youth and age- with the generation slot for old biddies like me tending to touch on all the subjects, one way or another.

For relevant photographs, I couldn't go back further than one of my Grandmother. Her husband had died in June 1911, exactly a month before my mother was born. As a widow with a large family to raise, you can imagine that photos came very low on her list of necessities. Add to this mix two world wars, and it becomes plain to see why family snaps were few. As I began rummaging through various hidy-holes to find them, I discovered one of myself in my wooden high chair. It struck me as a most symbolic item in this generation game.

The chair, which was constructed to hinge and bend back on itself to form a low level play table at the front, was subsequently used by my brother, then five of my grown up cousin's children, before reverting to me, its original occupant, for each of my own children to use in their turn.
It eventually ended up being put into the loft, when it was no longer needed. Sadly, when the time came to move house, the chair could not be reclaimed from the roof space, as a loft ladder had been installed which reduced the hatchway opening to such an extent we couldn't take the chair down without either removing the ladder, or dismantling the chair. It may well be there to this day. So my grandchildren never sat on its worn, wooden seat.

Looking at all the old snapshots also brought home the realisation of how many of those smiling faces are no longer around, which seems an apt point to include the following poem:-

Parting

Today I saw your face,
tired, and needing peace
and calm
with which to find release
from daily burdens.

Yesterday I saw your face
smiling and full of fun
and joy.
It dimpled in the sun
and echoed laughter.

Tomorrow I shall see your face
only in memory,
a portrait
painted lovingly
on the canvas of my mind.

6 comments:

  1. Imagine that, you are a real museum piece! If you look up 'museum piece' in www.thefreedictionary.com you will find the following definitions: 1. One that is worth keeping or showing in a museum.
    2. One that is old-fashioned.
    But I'm just jealous of course. And proud to 'know' you!
    Congratulations and a big hug!

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  2. How fascinating about the oral history project. And you're surely a fine subject with that dry wit and great style. (Might we see a poem in future about the highchair being trapped in the attic...like so many old memories in our minds?) :)

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  3. Thanks. This post caused me to go back and peruse some that I have done on family and roots. I like this poem too: precise and poignant.

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  4. What an interesting project for the museum!

    It's a shame that the old high chair is locked within the attic. Sometime in the future, someone will come across it and will wonder how it came to be there.

    Lovely poem.

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  5. I love the idea of the museum project....what a great way to record the past...and you are a part of it!!!

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  6. :) :) I extend a resounding Toast to You..Cheers!

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