Sunday, June 12, 2011

History Day

On Saturday, June 11, 2011, the Norristown Preservation Society (NPS) presented their annual History Day event.  I can’t remember which History Day it was, but it was a good one.  The event took place at the Selma Mansion, which NPS has been working very hard to restore.  The weather held out for the most part as far as the rain was concerned, but the humidity was almost unbearable – at least to me. 

I put together a video of this year’s event, being the (unofficial) organization’s video person as well as the treasurer.  I tried to show that we had a great turnout as well as a variety of interesting topics that were presented.  For example, Bruce Stockton gave a talk on the History of the Constitution.    I like to think that I have a fair grasp on our country’s history, but his talk put things in context to me.  I knew about the various documents; the Declaration, Articles of Confederacy, etc, but I did not really know about the timing of them and the importance of them as well as the type of people behind them.  It was fascinating.

Doug Seiler gave a talk on architectural styles in Norristown.  He went over the types of styles, their history, and showed examples of them in the town.  He showed the particulars of each style and talked about why certain features existed.  For example, did you know that the reason windows have a mutton in the center?  Well it's because the window was made to look like a casement window from the outside.  You could have the practicality of a double hung window that had the glamour of a casement.  I never knew that. 

But the big thing was the Ghost Hunters!  Steve Foersch and Lisa Terio of the Pennsylvania Underground Paranormal Society gave a great presentation on the investigation they did for the mansion.  They showed the equipment they used and showed the standing room only crowd clips of video and audio that showed evidence of paranormal activity.  I am sure that many of the people at the event were there just for that presentation and that’s fine.  I hope they also got an appreciation for the mansion and the historic significance of our town.

I used to hate history when I was in school, but I am sure it was just the way it was presented.  Once I started doing my family history and learning where I came from and what events shaped my family, it really put things in context.  Had I been able to partake in an event like yesterday’s event when I was younger, I might have been able to gain a fresh perspective on how important it is for us to know what came before.  History is not a thing filled with dry old facts that we have to memorize.  It’s a record of what has shaped our lives and our views as a country and as a people.  

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