Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reflections on the year past and the years to come

Greetings from 206 Oakdale Road:

Of all the ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in my study over the past 40 years as an archivist, one of my favorites is this image taken from half of a stereo view of the lost Baltimore neighborhood of Woodberry.  If it seems blurred at first glance it is because I have converted it to a 3D image. It is best viewed with red and cyan (blue) glasses.

Retirement for me began on November 1, like this image without glasses, somewhat out of focus, but filled with reflection.  What the new year will bring is uncertain after 40 years of trying to preserve and make sense out of the surviving public records.  Lately with the glasses on, I have begun to concentrate on how to give dimension to the lost worlds that those records can reveal if I look close enough.  First a book on Baltimore in 1814 and then on to individual lost neighborhoods.  Up to this point my professional life has been devoted to helping others see through the dark glass of the past to better understand ourselves and why we have become what we are.  From here on out, it will be my goal to try to answer, in my own voice, what I think I see from the those records I have devoted my life to preserving and making accessible.  Time will only tell if the results will remain blurred or come sharply into view.

Yesterday our five year old grandson came into the study and saw the hour glass I used to have on my desk in Annapolis.  He turned it to start the sand running. “Pap Pap, when the sand runs out it is time to play with me.”  He then spent the time making a display of my grandfather’s cigar ashtray (a copper cowboy hat with a broad brim), periodically saying to me “look how fast the sand is running out.”  When it did, we went off to play.

The sand has run out on one aspect of my life in which you all played an important part. For all of you who have contributed to making the last 40 years a most enjoyable and challenging journey, I thank you for your support and friendship, and look forward to the next turn of the hour glass during which I hope we will continue to share our reflections on the past, but also take time to play.  I know I will. Sallie, Chauncey, Everett and Clara will see to that.

Happy Holidays!

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