Sharing favorite knick-knacks

Do you remember being in elementary school and first time you heard the phrase, “Show and tell”? I can still picture my first-grade teacher with her blonde bouffant hairstyle and cat’s eye glasses explaining this magical day where we were to bring to class our most beloved possession.

My father traveled the world with the United States Navy and sent back to me dolls from exotic locations. You might think I’d have chosen to share from my collection a Greek or Filipino doll clothed in tradition dress. Instead, I chose my moth-eaten, ratty Teddy Bear, the one with the droopy eye and squeaker, wimpy from too many of my over-zealous hugs. (I still have that bear safely tucked away in the attic with my treasures.)

Show and Tell days were unpredictable. One never knew what zany things might show up. I’m sure the teachers dreaded them as much as they looked forward to learning a little more about each of their students. My younger cousin once snuck a book called, “Where Did I Come From” to share with her kindergarten class. Can’t you just picture the look of shock on the teacher’s face as little Molly started reading aloud? And hear the stilted conversation between teacher and parent at pick-up time? Sneezing was never again looked at quite the same way by those youngsters!

Here at Our Tales UnTold we thought, why should kids have all the fun? I’m sure you have around your home mementos which have sentimental meaning to you. Do your loved ones know the story behind the knick-knack? Here’s your opportunity to capture the magic! Our Tales UnTold will host an adult Show and Tell event on Sunday, May 1 from 2-4 pm at the Cockeysville Branch of the Baltimore County Public Library. It’s free and all are welcome. If you pre-register, we’ll send you information to help you start your memory-gathering journey so we can share our Show and Tell stories together that day.

Show-and-Tell-imageI’ll go first. This photo is of a ceramic snowman I made in kindergarten when we lived in southern California. My classmates molded palm trees, baseballs, canoes, and cups. But all I could think about was the awesome life-sized snowman I’d built with my uncle Mort when we’d visited Pennsylvania at Christmas just a few weeks before our ceramics class began. So I rolled three balls, one after the other, and stacked them up (he’s a little bloated, don’t you think?). Molded the hat into a wonky shape. Poked holes for eyes and buttons using a toothpick. Drew on a crooked little smile. Then handed my fella over to be fired in the classroom kiln. I remember vividly my classmates mocking me. Most had never before seen a snowman. But I loved him!

Over the years, frequent moves, and my parents splitting up, my snowman got lost. He faded from my memory. Until the early 1990s, when I lived in Rochester, NY. My brother and his then-girlfriend arrived for a visit just after my dad had been going through old boxes, throwing away or donating our remaining childhood relics (all of my Trixie Belden books — gone!). Kara noticed the ceramic snowman, picked him out, and saw my initials carved crudely on the bottom. Over my brother’s protests, she insisted that she be able to bring him to me.

Words cannot express my joy at having this quirky snowman returned to me. He’s had a place of honor on every mantle or bookshelf since he came home. This one sliver of salvaged childhood represents the all those things I created but were forever lost. He’s a symbol of my innocence. Just looking at his ill-proportioned, chipped body brings a smile to my face.

We hope you’ll join us on May 1 with your favorite memento! Let’s capture the story behind the artifact. Register here today.

May is the Association of Personal Historians (APH)’s Personal History Awareness Month, and our Show and Tell is designed to stress the importance of preserving and sharing personal history.



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