Education · Historic House Museums · Merchant's House · Museums · Poetry

The Historic House Tells It Like It Was

The Really Real Table
The Really Real Table

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

5 thoughts on “The Historic House Tells It Like It Was

  1. Love this post. It really is magic the way we can connect to the past this way. I was just reading about the “Great theatre massacre” of 1982 when five Broadway theaters were demolished to make way for the Marriott. I love going to the old theaters and sitting in the seats and connecting with the theatre goers of the past. Doesn’t really happen for me at The Marriott Marquis.

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  2. Delightful. It is magic! Sometimes, when I am looking at hundred-year-old photos or footage of something–typically in NYC :)–in black and white, I will say to my husband, “You know that didn’t really happen in black and white, though, right? I mean it happened for real, like, in color!” Uh, duh. Of course he knows this. Those moments of having the past within reach conjure in us a sense of wonder that isn’t easily articulated. May we never outgrow it!

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  3. And if you want to really talk about “really real”, how about opening a book that belonged to someone long gone. I do it every day, and if I find marginal notes, it makes me swoon.

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    1. . . . which is a good argument for reading second-hand “real” books. A real disadvantage to e-books is that you can’t lend them or give them away and nobody will swoon over your Kindle after you’re gone!

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