I was giving a tour of the Merchant’s House to second graders; the children were seated on the floor in the front parlor. I explained that a family with eight children lived in the house over 150 years ago and today the House was still here just as it had been then. The furniture was theirs; the big sister played the piano, the family sat on the chairs
A hand shot into the air. The little boy’s eyes were wide. He pointed to the center table. “You mean, . . you mean. . .that’s the really real table?”
He knew it was a real table, of course. But the really real table? Their table? The seven-year old was way beyond his peers in understanding that there were other persons just as real as ourselves, who lived their lives and who no longer live. Now he was experiencing the almost mysterious connection we can make with those who went before through the material objects they left behind. He continued to be excited as we moved from room to room, for almost all of the furniture is original. I couldn’t help but think of these lines from the poem “Music I Heard with You” by Conrad Aiken:
Your hands once touched this table and this silver,
And I have seen your fingers hold this glass
These things will not remember you beloved,
And yet your touch upon them will not pass.
That is the magic of the Merchant’s House. It’s really real. Really.
The Merchant’s House Museum is open to the public Th-Mon, 12-5 p.m. Visit the web site: http://www.merchantshouse.org