Friday, December 28, 2007

The photo at left is Dave with his grandmother's rocker, once again in working order. Objects carry memory. This chair, having been broken and placed in the attic managed to survive the flooding from Katrina. It had been repaired before and was made sometime in the mid-to-late 1880's.

Dave told me some of his grandmother's story. As a newly-wed in 1882, she and her husband booked passage to Cuba on a sailing ship carrying a load of lumber from Pascagoula, Mississippi. The load of lumber shifted in a rolling sea, changing the balance of the load and turning the ship bottom up. His grandmother and grandfather survived 3 weeks in a life boat, drinking rainwater and eating raw flying fish. They landed on a barrier island off the coast of Mexico. While it would be impossible to read that story directly from the chair, it is an object that provides a link to important memories and family history.

We think of stories being told in words, and it is quite true, they are. But objects play an important role in the recording and preservation and recording of history as well. It is quite telling that students will discard the papers they wrote in high school, but they will keep the objects they made in woodshop. One of the things we discovered about Dave's chair was that two braces, left and right were different. One was machine made and original, the other was hand made as a replacement for a broken part. Was it made by Dave's grandfather, or his father or brother? There are some parts of the story the chair will never tell.

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