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Saturday, February 18, 2017

The "A Wunderkammer: Part II - Collecting Life's Pieces In Snapshots" Story

It was an ordinary day.  Going to present a bit of a different angle today regarding my subject known as Wunderkammer, or "cabinet of curiosities."  Wrote yesterday that the 14th to 17th century European Renaissance's "cabinet of curiosities" were the beginnings of our modern day museums.  Displays of just about anything relevant to the eras could, and would, be displayed on shelves, in cases of any size or shape or in curio cabinets made predominantly of glass with a metal or wooden framework.  I also presented photographs of the two "cabinets of curiosity" that are in the high school where I taught at one time.  Well, today's story will show you that the European Renaissance "cabinet of curiosity" is still very much alive today in homes across the world.  This past weekend my wife, Carol, and I traveled to State College, Pennsylvania to visit our close friends and traveling companions, Jerry and Just Sue.  We enjoy our visits back and forth and spent this past weekend touring a museum in Williamsport as well as the Woolrich fabric and clothing store in Woolrich, PA.  
Sue's "cabinet of curiosity" located in her basement. A full
shelf plus another half shelf of snapshots if her family's life.
Click on photographs to enlarge them.
Interesting day, but one of the most interesting few hours of the weekend was looking and talking about what I will call, Sue's "cabinet of curiosity".  Sue loves to document her family's history and she does in by means of scrap books filled with snapshots and descriptions of those snapshots.  
Sue looking through one her many scrapbooks
that feature vacations from her and Jerry's past.
She has scrapbooks that feature every vacation she and her husband have taken; some by themselves, some with neighbors and the many vacations they have taken with us.  She has scrapbooks she has been making for each of her sons and their families.  But, the most interesting "cabinet of curiosity" is the one in their basement which fills an entire wall of their TV room.   Forty scrapbooks that carry she and Jerry's life, each filled with snapshots of an event in their lives that were important to them.  One of the scrapbooks is a glossary to help you navigate through the remaining 39 scrapbooks.  I had never looked at any of the scrapbooks until this weekend.  I was fascinated with page after page of the life of their family, from Album #1 (Nov '63-Dec '68) through Album #39 (2016-?/until full).  
Album #1, page one.  These snapshots
feature Jerry and Sue's wedding in November
of 1963 at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church.
I have known Jerry since we first stepped into Mrs. Good's 1st grade classroom at Brecht Elementary School in Manheim Township School District in 1949 and have known Just Sue (not Susan, but Just Sue) since she entered Manheim Township High School as a sophomore in 1959.  Needless to say, Jerry and Sue eventually married, raised a family and documented the entire journey in their own "cabinet of curiosity".  And, I love it!  As I sat there with Jerry in his basement, looking at Album #1, I told him how lucky he was to have all these neat photos to experience his entire married life over again any time he so desires.  We spent some time looking at a few of the scrapbooks ... then I told him we just had to share them with Carol.  
Jerry and Carol looking at one of the scrapbooks.
Wasn't long before we headed up his basement steps and were talking and laughing in the living room with both Carol and Sue.  All four of us often talk about what will ever become of our travel scrapbooks, which I too have made after each vacation Carol and I take.  But I never knew to what extent Sue had gone to collect all these neat pieces of her life over the past 52 plus years.  It is a remarkable feat that she has diligently worked on all her married life.  
October of 1967 features the first color snapshots.
Historical moment in photographic history when color
photography was available to the average person.
I'll bet there aren't many people in the entire world who have done what she has done, and with such loyal care and commit- ment.  Tell you the truth, I am jealous, since I don't have a family history in snapshots such as she and Jerry do.  Oh yeah, I have baby photos of special events and vacationsin the life of our children and extended family, but not EVERY day in their life.  As to what will eventually become of all the scrapbooks, well, they may be placed in a modern day museum, illustrating life in the lives of a twenty to twenty-first century family.  Why not?  I can't imagine they would ever be discarded. They are too much a part of modern day history for that to happen. Just wait and see. I know I'm right in this case!  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.

The last entry into Album #39 features Jerry and one of his relatives. More snapshots will follow since there is plenty of room left in the album.
Part way through Album #39 features a snapshot of Jerry and me and the retired Industrial Arts teachers from Manheim Township School District.  Jerry and I are both in the front row; Jerry is second from left and I am on the far right.


  1. Great Blog!! That was amazing. Your thought processing is wonderful. The way you tell the thing is awesome.

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