As always when speaking with her, I had a wonderful converstion with Dr. Sally Bauer the other day – a conversation that will be the subject of another post, but in the course of the discussion was the comment about a love of history. This was not the love of history in general, since that is a different subject. We were discussing taking a particular topic that you are interested in – the history of diving in this case – and devoting a great deal of time to seeking out as many levels of the history as you can. Reading or collecting the authoritative books or articles, sure, but it’s beyond that. The vast capabilities of the internet have become an amazing resource of course, yet there is still the search through archives and little known sources. The rummaging around in old bookstores, antique stores, garage sales, small museums that may be either specifically about your topic or related to it. It’s learning what to look for in references that can lead you to other information.
A few years ago, when I was coping with estate issues from my first husband’s mother, (discussed in Your Room at the End) a gentleman came to the estate sale and purchased one of the more expensive items that had belonged to her husband. He also inquired as to if I had certain items from WW II. I thought I did, but couldn’t find them because the woman handling (or sloppily handling as it turned out) the sale had them. She brought them around the next day and I contacted the gentleman to see if it was what he was looking for. It was, and my curiosity was aroused since I didn’t know his name as a friend of the family. In acutality, he’d never met the family, but my father-in-law’s father had been well known in the martime community as was my father-in-law and this gentleman had become intrigued with that aspect of their lives. It was obvious that his interest was genuine and so I let him look at boxes of family history that I had held back, knowing we did not need all of it, but neither did I wish these items to be bought as “old junk”. It was the proverbial win-win. The gentleman was able to obtain some things he would not have otherwise, and I learned about an aspect of my father-in-law’s family that I had been only partially familiar with.
The point to that rather rambling personel anecdote is that people can become intrigued with well-established history or less documented people, events, regions, periods, things,etc., History of all sorts can be a great hobby that can stay with you for a lifetime of enjoyment.