If you’re like I am (relatively old, retired, still living in a house you like), one of the conversations you fall into regularly goes something like this:
“I don’t know how we collected all the stuff we have in our house.”
“Same with us.”
“Last month we cleared some things out of our basement and gave them away, but it barely made a dent in all the stuff we have.”
“Same with us. We need a dumpster, or two.”
What’s to be done? I have our solution: Welcome to the Wethersfield Museum of Late 20th Century and Early 21st Century Domestic Artifacts! Wethersfield has great history and a nice array of museums: Webb Deane Stevens, Keeney Memorial, Butolph Williams. Yes, Wethersfield has a lot of time, energy, and money invested in preserving old stuff; the time has come to preserve and celebrate the new stuff!
So, here’s the plan. Carolyn and I will donate our house to the museum. Because the museum will have qualified as a 501(c)(3) charity, we’ll get a big tax deduction. Then we’ll donate all of our stuff to the charity, too. Of course, we will encourage our friends to make tax deductible contributions to support the preservation of this important history and the operation of the facility, including helping to cover the cost of insurance, utilities, and a new roof the house might need.
Our children will be the board of directors and the officers, and they’ll hire Carolyn and me to be the on-site caretakers of the museum. We’ll live in the museum, provide for the daily upkeep of the building and its contents, and we’ll manage the contractors necessary to keep all systems operating. We will be paid less than the minimum wage for our services, because the charity will allow us to live on the premises, so that we can be available to maintain the museum 24-7-365 (except, of course, when we’re on vacation).
Our duties will include managing the museum when it’s open to the public, like maybe 2 to 4 pm on alternate Thursdays and Saturday mornings from 9 to 11. We’ll collect donations from visitors to the museum, and we’ll entertain visitors with delightful stories about the history of the collection on display.
What exactly will be on display? All manner of objects that we have collected over the years, that’s what. For example, the museum will feature an exhibit of gardening instruments, tools, and supplies. Visitors will see six or eight pairs of clippers for trimming plants and bushes, a dozen or more lawn sprinklers of various designs and functions, hoses. Specialty items include a roof snow shovel, hedge trimmers, chain saws, pole soles. See multiple half-used bags of fertilizer, grass seed, and weed killer. Some visitors will be particularly interested in our liquid and granular insecticides, including poisons long since banned from your local hardware store.
Seasonal exhibits will include the ever-popular Christmas holiday displays, including multiple wreaths made of dried or imitation vegetation, both lighted and unlighted varieties. Dozens of strings of lights, some of which still work! A couple of creches, an advent calendar or two. Christmas mugs, Christmas trays, and more all will be on display.
The Museum from time to time will feature special, curated exhibits, such as “Dishware Past and Present,” featuring fine and not-so-fine china from different eras. See place settings manufactured in Occupied Japan after World War II, full sets of depression glass china in multiple colors. Learn the history of interesting family heirlooms, like the glass punchbowl set.
Of course, household items abound. Coffee makers, corning ware, flashlights, electric fans, electric heaters, and exercise equipment. One of the largest collections of scissors known to, well, me – paper scissors, poultry shears, kindergarten scissors with those round ends instead of points, nail scissors, nose-hair scissors.
The museum director is currently considering whether office supplies deserve a separate wing or should simply be included with other household items.
For the sports fans, there is a large and varied collection of Buffalo Bills memorabilia (permanently displayed because the Bills are always interesting): clothing items (including winter and snow gear), knick knacks, and one-of-a-kind items, like a Bills pool table. Many of the objects are autographed by some of your favorite former Bills players.
The highlight of the Museum’s collection certainly will be the 20th and 21st century tools and hardware. A half dozen hammers, dozens of screwdrivers, new and used sandpaper. Cordless tools – drill motors and drivers, circular and saber saws, including multiple rechargeable batteries, some of which actually hold a charge, as well as many charging devices. Hardware of all kinds, sorted, more or less. Screws and nails in multiple sizes and uses, steel, brass, galvanized. Hinges, picture hooks. One visitor has said seeing the collection is like going to Home Depot! High praise, indeed.
Visitors will delight in Carolyn’s second floor paper-crafting work room, with shelves, drawers, baskets, and cubbies chock full of paper, glitter, imitation jewels, glue, and other items essential to the manufacture of greeting cards and other paper items. Handmade racks for string and ribbons. The work room is decorated with some of Carolyn’s finest items and beautiful pieces she has collected over the years.
Visitors also will marvel at the variety of bags of all kinds. Large canvas beach bags, travel bags, purses, shopping bags, gift bags, paper bags, plastic bags, trash bags, cooler bags. Bags for storing bags.
Private tours can be arranged to see the attics, where visitors will discover rarely-seen items: Used carpets, multiple generations of luggage, art and quasi-art from the Museum’s rotating collections. Dust masks are recommended.
Before leaving the Museum, visitors should be sure to stop at the gift shop. Carolyn’s cards will be on sale, as well as jewelry creatively handcrafted from rare screws, cuphooks, washers, and other hardware. Select items from our large inventory of new and used computer and telephone cables, plugs and connectors, all at reasonable prices. Unique gifts for any occasion.
The Wethersfield Museum of Late 20th Century and Early 21st Century Domestic Artifacts is truly a marvel to behold. Be sure to include it in your next visit to Wethersfield. Tour buses welcome.