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August 30, 2020 - 8:00am

'A happy place': Artifacts in the Holland Land Office Museum conjure up good memories

posted by Anne Marie Starowitz in nostalgia, history, Holland Land Office Museum, news, batavia.

I recently spent a day at the Holland Land Office Museum in Batavia and enjoyed the newest exhibits. Like most museums, it has various displays that take you back to a time when the artifacts you are looking at or reading about were used.

For example, they have a room that explains the history of the Holland Land Office building. Another room is the Land Office Room where Joseph Ellicott, founder of Batavia and Buffalo, sold land to our early settlers. There is the Colonial Kitchen depicting what it was like to cook from the flames and coals of a fireplace in the 1800s.

The West Wing is called the Military Room where you can learn about the famous men and women from Genesee County who fought for our country. The East Wing houses an exhibit on local businesses.  

I think of our minds as a museum, storing memories of artifacts we have used over our lifetimes. I guess I am speaking to the baby boomers (born 1946-64) for obvious reasons (because I am one). I have been thinking about some of the artifacts that have been on display in the past.

The old black and white Sylvania television set (once made in Batavia) takes me back to watching "The Beverly Hillbillies,"* my favorite show as a child. We were only allowed one TV show a week when school was in session.

The museum has an old Victrola. Children love to hear the history of our early records or big CDs as children often call them.

Another artifact is a vintage typewriter. Now there is something the children of today have never seen. Remember the carbon paper for the typewriter and if you made a mistake you had to use a correction tape? My roommate actually had a typewriter in the early ‘70s and I had a plastic portable record player.

You can’t forget the three-pound transistor radio that could only pick up three AM radio stations.

There are so many memories and so many artifacts.

I really loved my ball bearing roller skates that clipped onto my shoes, not my sneakers. I would wear the key on a string around my neck.

Can’t forget the balloon tires for our bicycles, a 3-speed English bike, penny loafers, high-top sneakers, madras clothing, long hair for boys and girls. We played outside, used the sewer and manhole covers as bases for kickball.

We played games such a Kick the Can, Red Rover, Freeze Tag, Cops and Robbers and an old favorite, Hide and Seek. 

I wonder if someday a merry-go-round, teeter-totter, metal slide and monkey bars will be on display in a museum or big cardboard boxes from Max Pies  (Furniture store) that were used to slide down the grassy overpass on South Jackson Street. 

Sandlot baseball was anyplace you could find an open field. The list could go on and on. These are our artifacts!

Now the artifacts are stored in our minds in a happy place.

Photo courtesy of Anne Marie Starowitz.

*Editor's Note: This YouTube link plays the second episode of season two of "The Beverly Hillbillies" called "Hair-raising Holiday." It's a hoot!

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