This week was another thrilling evening with That Belongs in a Museum. For those of you new to the blog or the live literary event scene, That Belongs in a Museum is a storytelling show where folks bring in objects and explain why they brought them in. Objects can be historically interesting and/or personally interesting. People can present anywhere from 30 seconds up to five minutes. It’s a wonderful event.
My fiancé presented on three old coins that he had received the night before. He talked about how coins are little bits of history. The first coin was a Rupee from 1944 with the face of Emperor George on it. Back then, the British Empire was alive (and kicking, I suppose). To buy bread, as my fiancé put it, you had to use one of these coins that were a constant reminder of this foreign domination.
The next coin was a silver coin from the Austro-Hungarian empire. This coin meant something. You can feel it. This was a popular coin across the world since it conveyed strength and trust. On the flip side, the third coin was a 500 Marc coin from the Weimar Republic. It’s made from aluminum and it feels fake, like a poker chip or plastic toy money. Germany was experiencing hyperinflation and this coin really speaks to that. In the beginning of the year sometime in the 1920s, 800 Marc could buy a loaf of bread. At the end of the year, that same loaf cost 8 billion Marcs. So yeah. This coin represents how much trouble Germany (and eventually the rest of us) were in.
One individual brought in a sand collection that he had been collecting for years. He had started with sand he collected near the Pyramids of Giza in the 1980s. He and friends bribed a guard so they could watch the sun rise over the pyramids and the Sphinx. So he collected this little bit of sand to remember it. And then he collected different kinds of sand when he traveled. He has sands from all over Central America and the US. He said Chicago has wonderfully fine sand. One of the most interesting sand was this black metallic sand that he had gotten in El Salvador when he asked for his wife’s hand in marriage. This sand is magnetic actually. It sparkles like the night sky.
But there was a catch. All the bottles were labeled with numbers that corresponded to a separate list, detailing where they had come from. Right now, the gentleman couldn’t find the card! He knew some by sight but others, he’s not sure. Anyway, what a wonderful way to remember life’s events!
One woman brought in a blowgun that she had gotten from a small village in the Amazon. She had the blowgun itself, a quiver and a wooden pouch that was filled with cotton like substance. At one point, she armed the gun and we all started to duck in the audience. It was rather hilarious. She ended up not shooting it, which was probably for the best.
One man brought a board game from the 1970s called “Chug-a-lug.” It was a party game with the goal of getting people to drink. It was truly a relic from the past. There were cards like Chance cards in Monopoly except a bit racier. One said that for every drink, remove a piece of clothing that started with S. Another asked someone to deliver a poem on birth control, etc. etc. It was kinda brilliant.
Finally, I brought my saxophone. It wasn’t my intention to present it (I had originally brought a different item) but I had come from my saxophone lesson and figured it seemed like the thing to do. It was all about my grandparents. My grandfather passed away two years ago this week. We moved my grandmother here to Chicago shortly thereafter. One of the very first things we did was find a string ensemble for her to play in. She has been playing violin her entire life. After seeing my grandmother perform in a concert, I decided that it was time to pick up my saxophone again. I had played it for eight years and then put it down for thirteen years. I played instruments in between but I decided that saxophone was something I should pursue. So I started taking lessons again and even tried concert band again. My grandmother and I once performed in our groups for the same concert. That was rather neat. So it’s a tribute to my grandparents.
Moreover, I’ve been putting bumper stickers all over the case so it’s a little reminder of places, concerts and events I’ve been to. I have a bumper sticker from the protests against Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin. I have a sticker from one of my favorite bands, Carolina Chocolate Drops, and two silly stickers from an old web comic I used to read. The case is so strange and eclectic but so thoroughly me.
What a great night! Until February 2015!