One of my most familiar and fondest memories of the many houses my family has lived in over the years is the sound of my father adjusting the chimes in the massive grandfather clock that has followed us around. Its knotted pine sides made faces at me as I grew up, winking or howling depending on from which angle I looked. My father would hide the key to get into the German brass movements, but I would always find it, open the glass front door, and poke around in an effort to figure out how the thing worked. This family heirloom, hand-crafted by my great-grandfather, sparked my initial interest in all things from the past. How exhilarating it felt to touch something that a man who had long been dead had also touched. Perhaps, I thought, if I listened close enough, my great-grandfather would have something to say to me in those brassy chimes. As time wore on, and I no longer wanted to play inside the clock, I found a desire to know about the clock and about the man who made it. My father would pass along any information he knew, sometimes directing me to his cousin, Luther, who currently runs the Stroup Hobby Shop in Spruce Pine. This clock, so austere and yet welcoming, ignited my interest in history as a discipline. Artifacts of all kinds began to interest me simply because they were old and had stories to tell. Items by themselves held no value to me, but the memories that went along with them proved priceless. I could sit, and still sit, for hours, listening to stories about where this book came from or how that table came to be in our family. This peaked interest in personal family history spread to a more general population, especially all things social. I continue to further my own personal knowledge through academia and try to never let that curiosity die.
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Claire Stroup, Civil War Era NC, accessed December 8, 2023, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/910.