Open W-F, 12-4pm, Sat 10am-2pm | (860) 364-5688

Open W-F, 12-4pm, Sat 10am-2pm | (860) 364-5688

Telling Stories

By Marge Smith  |  Spring/Summer 2013

More and more, it is becoming clear to us that the best way for us to connect our visitors to our history is through stories. And the best way to illustrate stories is with things. Familiar objects trigger memories; strange objects trigger curiosity. In order to help people in our modern world understand how their counterparts in centuries past might have done things, we can show them something that looks vaguely familiar, but just different enough that they want to learn more. For example, in our collection we have a 12” x 4” piece of brown leather tube, held shut lengthwise by metal rivets. It is dry, stiff and cracked. What is it?

Mystery Object! (We know what it is...can you guess?)

To most people the tube might remain a mystery. But to a member of the Sharon Volunteer Fire Department it might ring a vague bell, it might even look a bit like an important piece of their own equipment. With a little pondering, or perhaps a subtle hint, he or she might realize “Yes! It’s a piece of fire hose!” This hose dates back to 1853 and may have been used by the Cornwall Fire Department.

Now that our volunteer firefighter sees what the object is, his or her thoughts might turn to “how was it used?” Not really a dumb question – it’s heavy, thick, and cumbersome. It couldn’t be easily and tidily rolled around a spool on the back of a gas powered fire engine. Full of water, the long length of a leather hose must have been incredibly heavy to manipulate and aim. So this simple question then becomes a journey into the whole story about how, in the mid-19th century, firefighters did their jobs – With what? Where? Thoughts about the similarities and differences between the volunteer firefighters’ lives and jobs then and now make the connection personal, real and meaningful. History is no longer remote, about someone else or just plain dull. Our mission has been fulfilled.

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