This blog represents most of the newspaper columns (appearing in various Colorado Community Newspapers and Yourhub.com) written by me, James LaRue, during the time in which I was the director of the Douglas County Libraries in Douglas County, Colorado. (Some columns are missing, due to my own filing errors.) This blog covers the time period from April 11, 1990 to January 12, 2012.

Unless I say so, the views expressed here are mine and mine alone. They may be quoted elsewhere, so long as you give attribution. The dates are (at least according my records) the dates of publication in one of the above print newspapers.

The blog archive (web view) is in chronological order. The display of entries, below, seems to be in reverse order, new to old.

All of the mistakes are of course my own responsibility.

Wednesday, May 6, 1998

May 6, 1998 - Local History Collection and Historic Bank

The strongest memory is based on scent. Just wave a crayon under your nose. The years do evaporate.

Another kind of memory is transmitted by music.

The power of music can also be easily demonstrated. Someone walks through the room and whistles just one line, a single phrase from a song you heard when you were a kid. In moments, this song consumes every ounce of your intelligence, as the notes repeat in your head, over and over and over. This seems especially true when it's a really bad song, for instance, anything by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.

("Young girl, get out of my mind...")

(See what I mean?)

But music also has the ability to transcend personal memory. Sometimes, it becomes part of the memory of a nation. "Yankee Doodle" is one example. "Eating Goober's Peas" is another. It's about some Civil War soldiers resting from the march and eating "Goober's Peas" -- peanuts. Or so my junior high school music teacher told me, and I believed him.

But sometimes such charming songs fade from our collective memory -- particularly if we never had a music teacher, or that teacher never spent much time on the music of bygone eras.

On the other hand, even if you were musically deprived, you still have options. For instance, you could attend a special library program on Sunday, May 17, 2 p.m., at the Douglas County Commissioner's Hearing Room in Castle Rock (at the new Philip S. Miller building west and a little south of the county courthouse). The theme is Civil War era music. The musicians are the popular and peripatetic 4th U.S. Artillery Regimental Brass Band. The program is absolutely free.

The band boasts 20 musicians arrayed in full period costume (which is an an education in itself). The performers are not only unusually gifted with a variety of old-timey instruments, they are also extraordinarily knowledgeable about the music they play, and the time from which it came.

The program is timed to fall (just) within National Historic Preservation Week (May 9-May 17). The theme this year is "Save the Past for the Future."

Many people assume that historic preservation only concerns old buildings. Well, it does concern old buildings. But it mostly concerns the communication, across generations, of a sense of life, of what things were LIKE. Few things transmit this knowledge as well as music.

But not just music. To collect all manner of print and photographic materials, the Douglas Public Library District established our Local History Collection.

Our Archivist for the collection, Johanna Harden (814-0795), always looks forward to spring. As people clean out their houses, they stumble across all sort of valuable historical information: photographs of Douglas County buildings now gone or changed. Diaries of ancestors. Even sheet music.

So when you bring your family down for an educational and foot-stomping afternoon, take the time to do a little rooting around in some old boxes. It could be you've got a prize for the future.

[Speaking of history, I have a correction to my column a couple of weeks ago the 1958 UFO sighting in Castle Rock. The clippings were organized by WILLIAM, not Wilbur, Kirby. My apologies].

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