Tuesday, July 2, 2013

For the Love of History: A Reluctant Historian

As I was boxing up office supplies, books, artifacts, & records today, with the help of my mom, I started thinking about why I became an historian. It wasn't some "higher calling." I hadn't fantasized about it when I was a kid. I kind of fell into it. It took my by surprise, hence why I consider myself a reluctant historian.

Boxing up and moving

I always wanted to be a "rock star," well a singer, at least. I would dance & sing around the side yard, which I can see from the picture window as I write this. I pretended I was on Kids Incorporated, where I was in love with Ryan (Lambert). Martika & Mario Lopez were my other 2 favorites, even though Mario was only a dancer. I sang songs by Wham!, Taylor Dayne, Paula Abdul... I was very upset when the show went from Saturday mornings on NBC, to the Disney Channel in 1986. Even though the village of Greenwich got cable in 1981, my house could not get cable until 2013 (Yes, this year folks).

I started ACC as a voice major & had a great time. I learned a lot & made some great friends, many of whom I am still friends with today. When it came time to transfer to a 4 year school, I also had to pick a major, as I had convinced myself that voice was no longer an option. I chose history, because I could study music history, art history, women's history... Everything has a history!

One of my classes at SUNY New Paltz was called Hudson Valley Culture. It was basically a local history class centered around the lower Hudson Valley. It was the 1st time I really learned about a very specific region & I loved it. Then my parents came down for a visit & we went to Samuel F.B. Morse's home, Locust Grove. Taking that tour & walking those grounds solidified my love of history & old houses & the people who lived in those houses.

After I graduated with a BA in History, everyone asked what I was going to do with my degree. "Teach?" was the usual. I never wanted to be a teacher, I wanted to work in a museum. Well, tour guides & curators are teachers. So, the joke was on me. I taught, I mean worked, in a bunch of different museums, but I tried to stay true to my original interested. I spoke about women, music, art. I learned about architecture & furniture styles. I loved the houses & miss them like old friends I don't see very often.

Many people, when asked what their favorite time of work is, would say quitting time. When I worked in a house museum, my favorite time was the morning, unlocking the doors, turning off the alarm, walking through the rooms opening blinds, shutters & curtains. Walking up the stairs to the bedrooms, where everyone would have been getting ready for the day. The dust motes dancing in the sunshine. The promise of interested visitors.

I felt some of that today as I began moving from my old office on the main floor, to my new office upstairs. The Town Office building used to house the Washington County Home for Aged Women & walking through those rooms that house board rooms, a food pantry & the clothes closet, I could still imagine the women in their rooms. I wonder how many women stayed in my new office over the years?

I still sing when I can, weddings & funerals. I torment my daughter by singing along with her One Direction CDs when we drive in the car together. & I am developing a program involving music & the suffrage movement. I hope to sing it for you someday.

I apologize if this is not what you have come to expect for my blog. One thing I like about them is that, no matter the subject, blogs are personal. It's like journaling to a specific audience, that you hope is listening.

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