Genealogy Old-timer

Photo courtesy of wallpaperflair.com

It’s Official – I have been named an “Oldtimer.” I knew this would happen someday but I never expected I would get the title twice in 24 hours! The first award was made by young visitors from Tallahassee who asked me how long I lived in my area. I had switched shifts with another volunteer at the historical society because it was her birthday (Happy Birthday, Barbara!). When I replied nearly 50 years though I spent my early years in the midwest the man replied, “You’re an old-time Floridian.” I guess I am though I don’t feel old at all!

Early the next morning I decided to go on a cemetery hunt which was just awesome since I haven’t done that since the pandemic began. Hubby and I visited an unincorporated area of the county where we once resided. We decided to stop at the local historical society first to see if anyone could direct me to living descendants of the Garrison family as I am writing a journal article on a tragedy the family endured. My kids used to volunteer at this historical society when they were in middle and high school and I haven’t stopped by in many years. My oh my has it changed! I was remarking how impressed I was with the refurbished pine floors, window shades featuring historical photos, and new exhibits when a docent said, “These are the original floors.” “Yes,” I replied, “but when the building was restored over 25 years ago they left the floors with all the stain buildup and I see they’ve been stripped; they look amazing.” “You sure are an old-timer,” she said, “I don’t think you need me to give you a tour.”

I certainly wanted a tour and kept my mouth shut, as much as possible, as she took us room to room. I didn’t correct her when she said the kitchen was original – nope, I clearly recall the roof leak about 1997, and the then director was frustrated that the roofing company had provided no warranty and the County Commissioners refused to give any more funds. That’s about when the idea to have a Tea Party to raise money began. I still have the hat I created for my daughter to wear as a server. I guess it’s about time we donated it to the museum! I have photos, of course, to show it being worn in the building. Except, they probably wouldn’t take it.

I had promised the original director that I would, upon my death, donate our family’s sheet music collection as she wanted the museum to be known for its musical history as it had the original piano and violin from the family who had built the house. My youngest used a computer to archive the holdings in the late 1990s. Now, I’m told, they have moved to a more minimalist approach so there is no library for researchers to use. I couldn’t get confirmation of what happened to the books, photos, and sheet music they once had.

Or what happened to all the furniture. It once had been set up like a house, though most of the pieces were not original to the location. Each room now houses only 1 piece of furniture – the boy’s room has a carved dresser, the living room has the family’s piano, etc. It’s an interesting way to display the items and allows the visitor to set up the rest of the furniture as they can only imagine.

I’m all for change but I’m also for preserving the past. I love the new look but I sure wish that some of the old items could have been preserved somehow. Somewhere is a happy medium I hope archives and museums can achieve. If you are planning to donate your family items, make sure you have an understanding with the organization of what they’ll do with your items if they change their focus!

After the visit, these two Old-Timers high-tailed it over to a pioneer cemetery and found the graves we sought in about 10 minutes. Trying to clean up the stone for a pic set off a fire ant colony. No bites, thankfully! I clearly had forgotten the perils of cemetery visits.

Now that I’m a reigning old-timer I’ve decided I’m going to blog more about my memories of living in Pinellas County, Florida. The area has changed so dramatically since I was a high school teen I couldn’t have imagined then what it has become. Strangely, it doesn’t even seem like so many years have passed. Recollections – here I come!

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