Collect my thoughts, among others

Maybe growing up near the Smithsonian inspired my collection of collections. Photo: Mitch Teich.

When I was about 13 – my son’s age – I was a museum curator. It was a very specialized museum, which featured a collection of artifacts collected by Wheaton, Maryland’s leading teenage collector of travel tchotchkes. (Me.)

It was not a metaphorical museum. There was the American History Platter (a 1/250e scale Liberty Bell, a replica of the Declaration of Independence on a parchment paper replica), the Dresser Top of Rare Coins (a 1945 steel American penny, a two British shillings coin) and the Wall of Sports Photography (a framed photo I took at Fenway Parking). In case the rooms weren’t obvious, I typed in some useful interpretive signs to show visitors when we had guests.

I revisited some of them art records when my daughter and I spent time with my parents earlier this week. In many cases, they have been great starting points for conversations about the road trips I took when I was young. Others spark speculation: what’s wrong with the little bouzouki with the music box inside? Why the hell did I get two? My daughter brought them both back to the north of the country.

Looking at the bouzoukis and the onyx crocodile, and the oddly high number of gull-related items, I vowed to myself never again to criticize the souvenirs my kids ask to buy on our travels. They provide an entertaining window into what we once considered interesting, or exotic, or – at the very least – worthy of display in our young people’s bedrooms.

I was talking about this phenomenon this week with the spouse of a colleague, who confessed to buying a rubber alligator at the Bronx Zoo years ago when he had no particular interest in alligators. But then the conversation turned to another collection that I – and many others – in the North Country still cherish: the value of generations of NCPR hats.

Different colors, several incarnations of the North Country Public Radio logo, and even different fabrics. I still have my first NCPR cap from 1996, although the fashion statement she makes today is something like “I’m wearing a very old hat”. Even if I was not the resort manager, I would love to see others sporting NCPR caps in the wild. But as someone whose hair collection has shifted in recent years from the top of their head to unlikely places (what’s wrong with the hair growing out of my earlobes?), I’ve been particularly happy to add an NCPR knit winter hat to my collection this week.

It is a very good hat. I’m not going to say more just yet, as you’ll hear a lot about it in our fall fundraiser starting Monday. You will also hear many great reasons why we hope you are not just a passive member of the public, but an active supporter of the NCPR. You will hear about all the great things we have done over the past year and the past 52 years. Lucky for you, one thing you habit hear: bouzouki music. Not if I can help him, anyway.

About Julius Southworth

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