The recent public forum on use of the Thief River Fall, Minnesota auditorium and the Old Arena have made me a little nostalgic for some history. I can see both sides to this subject in that I like old buildings however government needs to spend money carefully and I don’t know how to value nostalgia and history on a monetary basis. Anyway, I’m sure it will be several more studies before a decision is made and I prefer to stay out of this one. I have found a way to feed my need for nostalgia in how it pertains to history.
I’m never too far from historical nostalgia as it walks beside me and reminds my receptive mind of how precious is time. I purchased Caryl Bugge’s postcard book (pruchase at www.pvillage.org) of Thief River Falls some time ago. The book is a series of postcard pictures with very descriptive captions. The captions mostly include location of the photographer, direction of shot and mention of the buildings in the picture. I recently suggested to Lisa that we take the book with us and compare some of the scenes to what exists now. Many buildings still exist but I was surprised at how I’d forgotten some of the structures that once existed within my own lifetime. This is an activity which may lead to quiet conversation, reflection, greater self-awareness or greatest of all- a Dairy Queen treat. Little activities like this are the intimate things that glue marriages tightly. Someone else has my book right now but we plan to tour a Thief River from the past very soon.
Speaking of postcards, my friend Kurt Nelson likes this old form of correspondence. Kurt gave me an idea for the second part of this column. The “Sears House” was sold by Sears, Roebuck and company from 1908 through 1940. These houses were shipped with pre-cut boards, roofing, sheetrock and complete instructions. They were made to be finished by a lone carpenter or by the new homeowner with a bit of help. The Sears Houses weren’t earth-shaking in design however they were well-built and became an excellent way to introduce new building techniques and materials to the United States. If you go to www.searsarchives.com/homes you will find pictures of the many styles once offered. You will be shocked at how many of these style of houses are in Thief River Falls. I can look at the pictures and pick specific houses in town that match the photo. Sears houses were used at a time when there was much growth in the towns of northwest Minnesota so it isn’t surprising to find these houses locally. Look at the website for a few minutes then ad a residential leg to your nostalgia trip after you’ve finished downtown. You will be amazed at the pictures from the past that are still houses of today.
I don’t know how buildings from long ago will spend their future, I leave that to my elected officials. However, I do need to indulge my interest in local history and the two practices I’ve describe seem to fill my need. Do a little research then visit a separate, historical reality that is just as real as today only much older.