After 20 years of preserving all types of precious items one would think that the process would become mundane to me. Not so! I realize that every memory has a story that invokes emotions. It can range from joyful to poignant to memorable.
Sometimes I get a challenging order. So it is with this story of the 150 yr. old workman's boots that I relate. The order came from Pittsburgh, PA with an inquiry about preserving a pair of a 150 yr. old workman's boots found in a stairwell while under renovating an older home.
Upon receiving the pair I was stunned by the dilapidated condition that the boots were in: cracked, stained, pieces of leather hanging off the exterior, half peeled soles and looking quite shabby. Still, as I gingerly handled the tattered pair I felt an odd connection to them.
I couldn't help notice that despite their appearance, the boots had a trace of quality. For one thing, the leather though worn were still holding its shape. There were no laces but apparently in that era shoes contained metal hooks and wooden buttons. Interesting indeed! So after many applications of saddle soap into the decaying leather, the boots slowly became resurrected.
I confess I grew fond of them. My mind wandered to another time and place of its original owner. Who was the workman? Did he have a family? Did he discard the shoes because they no longer suited him or were they perhaps placed in the stairwell after the job was finished?
The woman who ordered the boots did not know any history regarding the pair. I guess it will remain a mystery but one thing I do know. The boots serve as a reminder how fleeting time can be. In a blink of an eye an ordinary pair of workman's boots becomes a 150 yr. old memory on display in a renovated home.