Urban Archeologist: A Deeper Dig

One week wasn't enough to uncover last week's find.

There comes a time in everyone’s life either by destiny or design that you will need to shed some of the things you have been carrying, storing, saving mainly for nostalgic purposes. I have done it — it was difficult, but the pain was only temporary.

I wrote last week about a major find in the Danbury area that resulted in the discovery of 80-year-old brochures from the early days of Candlewood Lake. This week I want to share more of the tales of this Connecticut family whom I met in the midst of a difficult decision — what to toss and what to keep. 

I may be incorrect in the assumption that it was a difficult decision — that day everything was going into the dumpster.

As I spent time that afternoon talking with family members and sorting through their father's home office, I learned about the neighborhood and what it was like when they were young. Southern Boulevard abuts Tarrywile Park and the neighbors had consisted of the superintendent of Danbury schools and the president of Western CT State University.

The first item I had found in the house (and the first I was given) was a large photo album (around 1900) with portrait photos on thick cards. The jaw-dropper was the ticket under the cover validating vaccination and passage for a relative from Cork, Ireland to New York in 1896 aboard the Cunard ship “Umbria.” Along with that was a written note of recommendation by a Judge that he carried with him from Ireland.

The album is full of images, many are tintypes (no tin or iron and could be produced instantly) none dated and many maybe Danbury natives, but only a few with names. Take a look and see if you recognize a long lost relative. Their condition is exceptional.

Between the family memories and personal accounts I really felt as though I was in over my head. I was honored to part of this event in their lives and allowed to dig through their history. I was also somewhat at a loss as to what I should do. I felt as though I could have been their biographer or should I have been sternly counseling them away from emptying the contents of this house into the dumpster?

I did what any Urban Archeologist would have done, I respectfully and appreciatively accepted the items they gave me and then I began helping them clear out the house.

Skip 40 years ahead and see if you can identify this bathing beauty from Modern Screen magazine.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.


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