COMMENTARY | The Heard Museum in Phoenix has come up with a wonderful idea. This past March 10 was the American Indian Art and Artifacts Appraisal Day. Memorabilia passed down from one generation to the next oftentimes have more than sentimental value. This particular event was focused around Native American artifacts and a variety of items were brought in to be examined. Wouldn’t it be great if other museums throughout the country offered a similar service?
Just like any kid who ever got into his parents’ closet and looked through the shoe box, today we are doing the same thing on television. Shows like “American Pickers” and “Pawn Stars” are following in the footsteps of “Antique Roadshow.” It’s not necessary to wait thousands of years to become an Indiana Jones. Archaeology is taking place every day in garage sales and abandoned storage units. Our memories are short and the knowledge of who we were and where we came from lies in books which are increasingly neglected. Each generation has a shorter attention span until now our curiosity is aroused and satisfied by 30-minute television shows examining the junk that was sturdy enough to survive for a few years.
I love to watch the fellows from the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop calling in the experts to look at some old documents for an authentic signature. Rick and “Chumlee” and the Old Man have their shop right down the street. I like to be an American Picker too, scouring the thrift shops to find that talking Darth Vader piggy bank with the light up saber. Yeah, I bought it for $5 and eBay says it’s worth $76!
It’s never been more true that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That old canvas that looks like a painter’s drip cloth turns out to be an original Jackson Pollock painting worth gazillions! Yet, I would like to point out that a valuable resource right under our noses might be overlooked. Are your parents and grandparents still alive? The best kind of historical reference lies in the fading memories of your aging relatives. Their personal biography is where the best history resides. Take the time to talk about the roots your family tree. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
It’s no wonder then that we find ourselves enthralled by a Lone Ranger lunchbox or a red wagon found in a senior citizen’s estate sale. As wonderful as those dusty artifacts are, don’t miss the opportunity to spend time with the seniors of your own family. When they are gone, it won’t be so easy figure out your personal history by examining the yard sale relics that were left behind.
Once again, if you find yourself in Phoenix for a family vacation, be sure to stop by the Heard Museum. They have the Eleventh Annual Katsina Doll Exhibit coming up on April 14. It’s part of a year-round program of interesting displays. You can purchase examples of Indian artwork and there is even a nice restaurant. Any town or culture would be lucky to have a museum as entertaining and educational to visit.