The past has felt very close to me lately. Perhaps it was the nostalgia of the winter holidays. The traditions. The music. The comforting rituals repeated year after year, despite the lack of snow and the fact that my nephews are a bit taller and I'm a bit wider than Christmases past. History. We make a little more of it every year.
On Christmas Eve, my husband, daughter, and I went to visit my 90-year-old Grandpa Norb in his nursing home. His mental fog had cleared a bit, and he chatted with us easily. My husband commented on a cribbage board, at which Grandpa told us about snooping in his mother's cupboards as a child, finding a cribbage board, and getting the hired man to teach him to play. Instantly I saw a bare-footed little Norby climbing his mother's countertops and sneaking the game board out of the cupboards. The cupboards that still stand in a house not five miles from Grandpa's nursing home. The house that is not one mile from the spot where my ancestors once lived in a dugout, near the woods where, as boys, both my father and his father searched for arrowheads left by the Dakota people. The woods where I collected and hauled logs for our woodpile whilst spinning fantastical stories about woodland creatures in my mind.
On January 13th, my band The Porchlights will be commemorating an historical event that took place 130 years ago in Mankato. It would seem that former U.S. Vice President Schuyler Colfax dropped dead after a frigid winter's day walk from one train station to another, his identity unknown until someone checked the papers he'd been carrying. Colfax in the Cold will commemorate his final walk, including an original song detailing Cofax's demise.
Buildings. Cupboards. Trees. The very ground beneath our feet. All hold events long past. I've often wished I could stand in one place and watch time rewind in fast-motion. For example, what events, both great and small, occured in my home throughout its 90-year tenure? Deaths, births, victories, defeats, laughter, tears. Who filled these rooms with life before my family did? Ghosts of previous tenants seem absorbed by the walls.
The Capstone set Long Ago and Today captures the idea of history in the ordinary. Check them out for a young history buff in your life. It may be the closest we can get to watching time rewind before our eyes.
Mandy Robbins, Senior Editor