Homepage | David K Petersen

Mason County Memories

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HISTORY COLUMNS

History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News

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david k petersen

I think that spring clean up is one of my favorite events of the year, it's spring, the weather is usually on the warm [er] side and yard sales have really not gotten a good start yet. So Clean up days come at about the right time for a little treasure hunting to help shake off those winter blues. There are quite a few people out making the run these days too. A lot of variety in what they are searching for, the scrappers are looking for aluminum, copper and other metals, trucks are filled with bikes, lawnmowers, and shabby chic. Some might just say it's shabby but if you go out to the Antique show this summer you might just see that old chair you threw out reborn as a planter. There are some pretty creative crafters out there who pick up their supply of wood and other items that can be turned into some interesting yard art. It's recycling at it's best and often helped out by homeowners who place notes on certain items such as "IT WORKS" [or not]. My interest is mainly in those things that are of a historical nature and there is a lot of history that is often eaten up by the dump. Cleaning out the clutter when people move often means that old city directories, yearbooks, photographs, books, magazines and other such stuff goes out to the curb. Estate cleaning also generates a lot of refuse especially if there is a time limit as to when the home has to be cleaned out. One group of photographs I found dated back to 1900 and since a news clipping that was in the box identified someone I knew I was able to return those to a part of the family that would preserve them. In years past I have come across log books from Great Lakes Ships, tintypes, other books by the boxfuls, photo albums, tin toys, old store signs, and a multitude of things that are still useful and in good working condition. This year items of historical and genealogical interest yielded a 1934 class photo of the Fife Lake graduates, a 1932 photo of their girls basketball team, a 1952 and a 1957 Oriole yearbook, a 1937 Memorial book, and one from 1964, two High school diplomas, one belonged to a person told me it was in a box of items that had been stolen and was thrilled to get it back, the other said "I'm moving out and moving on" and didn't want it. There was a small box of 1930 era negatives in a box of old photo developing supplies, two Abstracts, one was filled with notations about land transfers between James Ludington, John Mason Loomis, Pere Marquette Lumber Company, and others. A 100 year old photo of Mary Ann Barnes, a glass negative of a dog, and a 1942 War time Ludington Daily News. In addition to those there were some real photo postcards, a collection of about 600 advertising matchbooks from back to the 1940's, pharmacy bottles from Snow's, and Johnson's, and some paper bags with advertising from stores long since closed. Once a friend found a marriage license and photograph from 1895, a little sleuthing on the internet yielded a direct descendent who was thrilled to get them. They had been in the care of another relative and now the question they had was "What happened?" It's not so unusual that when there is a death in the family that some very personal items as well as a families heritage and historically important items are lost in the subsequent cleaning. Many times the person responsible for taking care of the estate is overwhelmed with not only the grief of losing a loved one but also with the mountains of "stuff" that is left. Sometimes too it's apathy, or the desire to get through it as quickly as possible that leads to discarding items that should be preserved. One of the things that I really don't like to hear when I get an opportunity to purchase a partial estate is that the family had filled 4 dumpsters and cleaned it up before I had a chance to look at it. Many times those paper items have more value then the furniture. Outside of cleaning out the perishable food items, after the family takes what they want for mementos from an estate the rest should remain undisturbed until antiques dealer or auctioneer has a chance to look things over. The mountains of leftovers may look like it has no value but you have to remember that old adage that one man's trash is another man's treasure and hold off on that urge to pitch and burn. There are collectors, antiques dealers, White Pine Village, the Library and others who may be looking to preserve what to them is collectible, valuable and important pieces to our rich past.

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