Boomers and basements

Fox Footprints: local history

The Appleton Public Library is very interested in preserving local history and collecting our shared stories. Here you will find unique photos and stories, updates on our projects and information on our programs in local history and researching your family history. If you have a great photo or story, let us know!   -Diana

I read another article in the newspaper today about Baby Boomers ending up being custodians of the accumulated treasures of their parents and grandparents.  Speaking as someone who currently has a basement full of such things, I understand that completely.  I also understand that some of those things are treasures to me as well because I know their story.  That beautiful etched glass vase was a wedding present 60 years ago.  Someday I will put flowers in it.   But more and more, I don’t have a clue.  Why did Gramma need four dozen salt cellars?  (Probably the same reason I need all 37 of the hymn books I have.)  The next generation will know less and less about these things and will likely toss them away as soon as possible.   My sons and their wives, have already chosen a couple of small things, but continue to ask when we are going to clean out the rest of that stuff.   

There is one thing that won’t be tossed, ever, and that’s the big box of family photos.  Grampa as a little boy on the farm with his pet goat.  Gramma’s graduation photo.  The one single tiny black and white photo from their wedding.  These are priceless, and must be kept!  Luckily there are many ways to do that, and to share those things to keep their stories alive.   Millennials (people under 30) have grown up with everything being available instantaneously on some kind of device.  Heirlooms don’t fit in well in small apartments and moving every few years.  But pictures do.  They can be digitized or scanned and hundreds can be on a single gadget.   So when you do get around to cleaning out the attic or the basement, capture those memories instead of just tossing them out.  Surely your kids have room for a CD or two.  You might even look at them occasionally.

Then think about who else might enjoy them.  Do you have a photo of a building that is no longer standing in Appleton?  Is your family one that has been here in the Valley for generations?  Do you have a picture of the original angels on the Avenue? The Appleton Public Library has a collection of photos, some physical photos and some just scans of photos shared with us.  We'd love to see some of yours!   Check it out at  Plus, let me know if you are interested in a lot of glass salt cellars!

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