Time Passages

Click here or on the web link for this week's program.Times passes for people. Time also passes for the things people
build, like buildings and towns. I recently found a couple of
websites that not only remind me of times passages but also document
it.

The first site is titled Ghosts of North Dakota and features two
hardcover books of the same name. “Ghosts” is a project to picture
and inventory abandoned towns in North Dakota. I see old buildings
when I take a trip through North Dakota and assume the building is an
old farmhouse. The truth is that I may be seeing the last structure
of a once-vital town. I found the site interesting in how many
different styles of buildings once made up the little towns. It seems
to me that new homes have a similar size and shape whereas the old
buildings and houses on this website reflect the personality or
culture of its builder. Anyway, it’s worth checking out and maybe
even ordering a book, the web address is ghostsofnorthdakota.com

Closer to home, but moving through time just as fast, is a Facebook
page titled Thief River Falls/Pennington County History. This is a
site that is frequently updated and fields questions of local
history. There has been a fair amount of investigation into various
subject matter to include the recent effort to honor Sergeant Donald
Meyers, a Thief River Falls Police officer who was killed February
17th, 1962. This site seems to take inspiration from current
buildings or events and give them perspective using the tools of
their own history. I particularly enjoy the entries which include a
picture of a location from years ago which is then paired with a
current picture of the same locale. What strikes me is the size of
buildings from the past; they were pretty small. People kept their
homes to a size which was easy to heat and businesses kept smaller
inventories and needed fewer square feet to repair the much smaller
machinery. People from past times did not consume as much as we do
and what they did need they often-times created themselves. Retail
became stronger with time and the commercial buildings reflect the
change. All that stuff purchased at retail had to go somewhere and
the houses reflect that change.

Bud Johnson recently allowed me to cut a few logs from an old barn
on his property. The barn was built by my grandfather sometime in the
1930′s and I have those popple logs sitting in the shop. They mean a
lot to me but it is hard to explain their importance. I think people
delve into history as a way to understand their own lives by
understanding those who lived here first. It is a good, logical way
to gain personal understanding but it is also gives something more.
To look at the pictures of structures and read their stories it
allows you to let go of yourself and imagine yourself in those times.
Home-made doors, corner steps that fan as they lead from a building,
those circular marks that show evidence of hand-hewn timbers deliver
a rush of knowledge through the strength of emotion. To understand
history is to understand the people who lived it.

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