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Mike Watson: On photographs, history, and the idea of preservation...

One day, when enlightenment spreads o're the land and more citizens long for a look into the past, and truly appreciate it, there may be an Adair County Museum. A safe place where artifacts of long- and not so long- ago can be exhibited for all to see. When that day comes, perhaps Lee Ann will, for a time, loan the shoe shine stand and cash register for a display, and others will dig out items significant for them, and all of us, for a short - or lengthy - display. We are fortunate to have young folk who appreciate these things. Eddie and Tiffany Kessler have a true passion for the preservation of "old stuff" relating to Adair County. I have seen this photo before, but had forgotten about it. It has been said, "Every time an old person dies, a library burns down.." - MIKE WATSON

By Mike Watson, Adair County Historian

Editor Ed,

The past is not passed, it remains with us. I have read and viewed with great interest the several comments to the historical photographs that appeared on the pages of CM this week. As an avid Adair County researcher, I feel that CM is the best at what it does - bring news of the present and past to the technological age.


The comments on the West Square photograph have caused me to dig deeper into the history of that particular block of buildings, much of that has appeared on CM at one time or other. My brother-cousin Jim's piece on the development of Columbia Town Lot Number after the great conflagration of 1921 was a masterful work in architectural investigation. Lee Ann Dehoney Sullivan's comments and photos of the Barber Shop and the shoeshine stand and cash register give a more complete understanding for those of us who do not readily remember the "narrow building". All the additional comments help to flesh-out a lost bit of local history, insignificant to many, and to the overall "big picture", but certainly a mega-enlightenment for so many of us who do care about our state, county and town history.

Weekly, I receive up to a dozen letters, emails, texts, instant messages, and/or phone calls from old friends, relatives, and people I have not met, but who have word of me. Most of those communications have to do with the history of the county and the people who make up the center of the universe. I believe there are great treasures--likely not monetary in form, but rich in history--hidden away in every home in Adair County. There may be only one old photo, or one old relic that has a distinct story; a story of who we are and how we came to be as we are.

Ann Curtis' submitted photograph of the marching band is another great example of "1000 words" in a snap. Not only does the photo show the band members marching, much like the Adair County Band in Barren County only yesterday, but also grants us a glimpse of the throng watching the band, the autos, the buildings, and life as we knew it in 1960--not that long ago, but certainly historic in so many ways.

The Columbia Christian Church photo of the Men, submitted by Richard Phelps, and the identifications following, also bring out the people of our town. Who they were, who we are; where they were, where we are.

One day, when enlightenment spreads o're the land and more citizens long for a look into the past, and truly appreciate it, there may be an Adair County Museum. A safe place where artifacts of long- and not so long- ago can be exhibited for all to see. When that day comes, perhaps Lee Ann will, for a time, loan the shoe shine stand and cash register for a display, and others will dig out items significant for them, and all of us, for a short - or lengthy - display.

We are fortunate to have young folk who appreciate these things. Eddie and Tiffany Kessler have a true passion for the preservation of "old stuff" relating to Adair County. I have seen this photo before, but had forgotten about it. It has been said, "Every time an old person dies, a library burns down.."

Oh, I should close by saying, I held back on commenting on the photos for a time, hoping responses from others would flow. I was not disappointed in the least. I learn more about the history of us every day, often through the pages of CM. - MIKE WATSON


This story was posted on 2013-09-22 10:32:26
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