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Urban Archeologist: People, Places and Things we Find

A “Shout Out” to the friends and enablers that make Urban Archeology so rewarding.

 

More often than I have found “stuff,” I have found people who were not only willing to share stories, but the relics, memorabilia, and artifacts that they have found as well. Here are some of the highlights from the past few weeks.

Just last Saturday, I stopped at a Redding estate sale to find it was only a barn with a couple of rooms to explore, I was un-phased as this sometimes happens through no fault of the homeowner. Once I described what I was looking for, he immediately left and returned with a small stack of religious magazines from 1914. He had found them in the attic when he purchased the home. Though he didn’t want to sell them he happily gifted me with a couple and wished me well in my continuing hunt.

Later on Saturday afternoon in Brookfield, I had a similar experience – a weary but friendly trio at the end of their sale listened to my quest to find old paper and a story. “I know what you’d like.” One of them exclaimed, and disappeared into the house. Sure enough, 5 minutes later I am enjoying myself as they display and describe the contents of their grandfather’s trunk. It contained numerous stock certificates from the 1930s as well as other pieces of ephemera. They were gracious and invited me back if I ever wanted to do a story on their collection.

About a week ago, I was finishing up at meeting of the Flagpole Radio Café (Season 5 announcement — coming soon) when, as I was leaving, one of the producers came up to me and said, “Here, I saw this and I thought you might find it interesting.” He was holding a nicely preserved WWII Ration book. After thanking him, I had to think a minute about my good fortune to not only be able to find the things that I do, but to have friends around me that want to help. It’s a good feeling.

I have already written about the benevolent neighbor who gifted me with the painting, but there are others who I don’t want to miss. Most importantly, the kind reception I have gotten from the Newtown Friends of the Library publicist, Toni Earnshaw. She invited me to visit while volunteers inspected and sorted books back on “Donation Day.” While I didn’t find any treasure between the pages of those books, just a week ago Toni stopped by my office to hand me a treasure they had recently found — an order form for a series of Washington Irving’s stories from 1896.

If you like to hunt for treasure I recommend stopping by Reed Intermediate school in Newtown, July 14-18 to see what is likely the largest book sale in the state. This is an important fundraiser for them and from the volume and quality of this year’s donations there will be some real standouts to look for. My favorite is the “Special Collections” room they have dedicated to rare, old, and signed books. Don’t miss it. 

Finally, I would like to thank all the folks who commented and emailed me on last week’s story of the mystery estate. I was given several good leads that I am currently following up: Tarrywile Mansion, Danbury; Nyala Farms in Westport, CT; Muscoot Farm in Katonah, NY…all good guesses, but nothing firm to back them up. Take another look and see if it rings a bell. Even if it doesn’t, I am appreciative for all the help and interest in Urban Archeology.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story.  You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

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