Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Getting my life back

The siding project is inching ever closer to completion, the "on" season for the museum now has a mere 4 days to run (our last regular open day for 2015 is September 5), and we just acquired a new member who is enthusiastic about genealogical research. I could be close to getting my life back.
The overgrown junipers have been dug up; with them gone, the museum should be much more recognizable from the highway, especially once we've got the foot-high letters saying "Historical Society" back up on the wall. The bushes had grown so tall that signage was no longer visible. I'm a little surprised the bushes grew as big as they did; junipers must like sand because the dirt they came out looks like it belongs on a beach. 

Don't get me wrong. I do like volunteering at the museum. I love doing the inventorying and cataloging. I also like grant writing and doing an occasional press release. I just don't like dealing with people, hence, being a docent is the least favorite thing I do. I'm also not real keen on being the person who serves as the liaison with the Chamber of Commerce, Village of Baraga, Baraga County government, etc. I got a phone call at the museum the other day that gave me cold shivers. One of the local insurance agents called and asked me if I was "Nancy, the person who's running the museum." Definitely a Harlan Ellison moment. I do not want the museum linked that closely with my name by anyone. It could also be one of the reasons the S.O. and I are now talking about taking a very long road trip next summer with the Guppy -- we want to go to Alaska while we're still young enough to do it, which in turn means blocking out a month or more in the warm weather months. The Guppy is not exactly a speed machine. And if I am not physically around, someone else is going to have to step up to fill the gap. At least in theory.

This is the type of research I like: figuring out who made this wrench, when, and what for. It's a tractor wrench and was most likely made by Case.
But I digress. I'm also not real fond of doing the genealogical research, probably because I've never understood the fascination some people have for family history. I think a bit of appreciation for family heritage is good, especially when accompanied by some moderately amusing anecdotes -- we always refer to the one bad piece of fruit in a bag of fruit as the "Cohodas orange" thanks to a story my Old Man liked telling about his experiences working for Sam Cohodas back in the 1930s* -- but I really don't care much about how many siblings one of my great-great-great-grandfathers may have had and where they all wound up.

Still, someone had to be doing it. A significant chunk of our budget comes from the fees people pay us to do the stuff they can't track down online, like finding copies of ancient obituaries in the L'Anse Sentinel (the paper is not digitized). Our deceased past president, the guy who died in 2013, loved doing genealogical research. It fascinated him; he was quite happy to put in many hours trying to track down lost branches of people's family trees. I'm really hoping our new member who says she's interested in genealogy turns out to be as much of a fanatic as Jim. I get bored after about the first 15 minutes, and for sure I have no desire to make trips up to the Michigan Tech archives, other historical societies, or a Mormon history center. There are local history topics I'd like to do some in-depth research on, but they're slightly more macro than one family tree.

Anyway, the fact our newest member seems enthusiastic about both local history and genealogy has me hoping we'll be able to slide a few of the research requests we get to her. If she actually likes doing it, she's bound to be both better and faster at it than I am.

As for the siding project, we now have building wrap up on two sides of the building, it should get wrapped the rest of the way tomorrow, and then it's on to doing the siding. We may, in fact, be able to start siding tomorrow, too. We ordered the siding last week; it should come in on a truck today. I can hope. 

*At the time, fruit came on railcars in huge crates; it got bagged locally. The Old Man, a teenager at the time, was bagging oranges for Cohodas. Whenever he spotted a rotten orange, he'd toss it to one side. Cohodas, who went on to make so much money he's got a building named for him at Northern Michigan University, stopped him. "No, no, no. You don't throw the bad ones away! You put one rotten orange in with eleven good ones in the bag. No one will complain about just one bad orange when the others are all good."  Cohodas gets remembered now as a great philanthropist because he donated a lot of money to NMU, but every time I see the name I think about him being willing to screw people over the price of an orange during the Great Depression. Yet another example, I guess, of the old saying that behind every great fortune there is a great crime. . . or a whole lot of little ones.

1 comment:

  1. I may pay you to find out where my gggg grandpa was born..asshole went by initials.and one time it's I J and one time it's I L...sigh


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