“There’s nothing wrong with history, but simply being old doesn’t make you historic.” – Dave Lozo
Though Dave Lozo was talking about the NHL and the constant use of the “Original Six” when hockey analysts talk about Chicago, Boston, New York, Montreal, Toronto, and Detroit, Mr. Lozo’s quote really struck a chord with me. It made me really think about history and what makes something or someone historic.
For me, it depends on who you ask. The meaning something has to one person may not exist, or exists differently, for someone else. There are many different parts of the past that I find interesting, and more so if I get the opportunity to interact with people who lived through it. To me, that makes the person I’m interviewing historic.
For example, today at Safe Haven Museum and Education Center, where I am currently working, I told Lois, an 85 year old Experienced Works employee, I was working on a Dust Bowl Panel for an exhibit on SUNY Oswego’s campus. She told me that she was a little girl during that time period, so, I started talking to her about it and asking questions. The fact that she remembered and could tell me what she went through, how it felt, the things that were going on gave her a historic quality. It’s not because she lived through it, but because she had the information to pass on to me, teaching me about history.
An African proverb helps in better understanding what I mean, “When an old man dies, it’s like a library burning to the ground.” All of that information is lost, unless passed on to someone who connects with it.
Lois and I ended our conversation, and she walked away into another room. A few minutes later, she reappeared and handed me these.
I was amazed. I’ve been in close contact with quite a bit original materials from the 19th and early 20th century, but for some reason these made me appreciate the opportunity I had all over again. I’m sure people hold these things every day, but to me, it was special.
Lois didn’t seem to think they were all that great and even said that she had ones from the 1930s that I could have. I was shocked. To me, being able to interact and begin to understand history on a personal level is what makes it all worth while; it makes it something worth knowing; it becomes a part of you even if you weren’t there to experience it.
That’s why I love history. It let’s me outlive my own life by hundreds of years, through different people’s perspectives.