Urban Archeologist: Music Box Full of Surprises

Never judge a box by its appearance...


As long as there are basements to explore and attics to pick through I suppose I will continue to do this. Maybe you are reading this and wondering “Why?” I may be able to answer that in a single sentence. It is the things that I have found that energize me to keep looking.

Last weekend I was truly nervous that my run of good luck would end. The season is already at its lowest point and the weather report was calling for some form of ice, sleet, slush, or mix of each during Saturday. This is not the kind of confidence builder that I was hoping for.

The estate sale listing showed an address in Huntington or Shelton, I wasn't really sure as I have rarely ventured into that area. I still have to ponder the various routes when planning a road trip in Connecticut. Why is it in this state that there are two or more ways to get somewhere and neither are ever (and I mean EVER) a shortcut?

Trusting my GPS, we arrived early enough to still find plenty of items for sale. I found some old letters  on the second floor and in the basement I found a decrepit box of more old papers. After peeking at a few papers near the top, I closed the box and determined I had a “dig” and decided to make an offer. Fortunately, the estate sale manager “Tina” looked only briefly through the box and instead of pricing items one by one, she and I negotiated the entire contents for $10.

What I got was a true mystery box (look at the image). Would you pay $10 for that? Inside was a combination of sheet music and music magazines. The part that grabbed me was finding nothing more recent than 1950. This was a time machine!

The deeper I dug, the further back in time it went. I have seen editions of “Etude,” the magazine of music appreciation, and while I do appreciate music, I never see too much in the way of odd ads (but there were a few). The winning items to me were the 15 or so selections of sheet music, many of which were from movies of the 1940s (see the gallery).

The most valuable piece was the copy of “Over There.” Written by George M. Cohan in 1917 while on a train from New Rochelle to Manhattan, it became a symbol of patriotism for the Yanks who would be going “Over There” to fight during WWI.

Before I got to the bottom of the box, the water damage proved too much and the rest of the magazines and the moldy box had to be tossed. Despite their condition, the contents were still music to my ears.

There was one magazine from 1954 that did have some unique ads. Especially this one depicting the importance of beer in our lives, even if it is watered down some.

If you read last week's puzzle and want the solution, I have provided it here.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story. You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.


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