Monday, June 6, 2016

#BecomingMolly - Part 3 - "These are the People in My Neighborhood"

Poppies in the recreation of the garden that would have been across the street from the Shapiro house in 1919
The unique thing about the museum I work for is that it's a portrait of a neighborhood from the l600's right up through the 1950's. It's exploring how life changed within a single small community over the course of three centuries.

As I mentioned in my last "Molly" post, I've been working on trying to find the right balance of knowing what's going on "in the world around me" without seeming to know too much on the larger picture. However, I'm not sure which is harder, trying to not know too much national and international history without seeming to be omniscient or trying to find out all the bits of juicy local history which there's only a limited amount of information available.

The neighborhood in the 1910's was a very close knit little community. They had their own way of life. Their own stories and history. From a historical perspective, it's perhaps not a significant moment in American history. There wasn't anything truly remarkable about it, certainly not what you would expect to find in a history textbook.

Thankfully for me, there are a collection of fairly detailed oral accounts of life within the small neighborhood which gives us fairly clear idea of what life would have been like if you'd stepped back in time for a quick visit. Everything from how they did the laundry, to who grew the vegetables and what their seasonal recreations were.

It's been fun to learn about what specific kids were doing and getting in trouble for doing. Everything from stealing ice chips from the ice man to getting expelled from school for jumping out the window. Pouring over pages and pages of information I'm learning what the Shapiros' neighborhood would have been like 100 years ago. I'm suddenly starting to feel like I actually know these people, the little community that I'm getting to work in nearly a century ago.

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