Hurry, hurry, hurry! Come out and see the AMAZING Brookfield Historian in Residence! For a limited time only! THRILL to his wondrous descriptions of this ancient village! GASP at his grasp of long-forgotten knowledge! FAINT as he reveals how cheaply you could buy a pound of bacon! Coming soon, to a library near you! (As long as it’s in Brookfield.)
Well, to begin, for the last 10 years or so, I have been billing myself as being “Brookfield’s Greatest Historian.” This was not a description I uttered in mere jest, but, as far as I could determine, was the absolute truth.
After speaking that seeming bit of immodesty, I usually followed up by stating that if I ever heard from anyone who could prove to me that he or she was the “greatest,” I would gladly step aside and give this person his or her just due.
To this date, I have discovered no one else wanting to claim that title. Mind you, I am not the one-and-only complete expert on all aspects of Brookfield history. I have always acknowledged that Mr. Joseph Stejskal of Hollywood is, with certainty, the expert on Hollywood history.
Also, former Brookfield resident Mary Green Kircher is the best expert on the Congress Park area’s history. This I freely admit, and I always believe in giving credit where credit is due. But as to the being the expert on the general history on Brookfield, well, I guess I’m it.
There are certain areas of history in which I am the absolute, unquestioned authority. For example, when it comes to the village’s Grossdale Years, from 1888-1905, I have amassed, through my research, a great amount of knowledge and understanding. Sometimes, also, I have become expert in some historical subjects by way of diligently researching information for my articles for the Landmark.
In June, I began to list all the articles, columns and news stories I have written for this paper. At first, it was just to have some sort of guide to the copies of my writing that I have placed in four plastic binders, covering the period from 1999 to the present. When the list was completed, I made up a few copies extra; one for the newspaper, and one for the Brookfield Library, which has since asked me if they could copy my binders to the year 2002, so that they might have a complete record of everything I have written. So what does that mean I’m going to be … something like immortal?
I have also been asked to make a formal appearance at the library as the local “Historian in Residence,” and will be available on Sunday, Sept. 18, from 1 to 5 p.m., to answer historical questions, or if you just want to show me some artifact relating to Brookfield.
Think of it as if some history professor suddenly makes an appearance at the Antiques Road Show. The official name for this event is “The Historian Is In.” There I’ll be, in the Adult Reference Office, sitting at the desk, calmly looking wise.
Along with my historical brain (I try not to go anywhere without it), I am also bringing along some research materials. I could fill several boxes with these, but I will try to limit myself to the 1980s issues of the Grossdale Gazette that I used to edit and write some history for; the big Brookfield history book that I co-authored back in 1994; the Gross School Centennial book of 1995; the Grossdale Museum’s Docent’s Guide that I created in the years 1990-1992; the Brookfield Diamond Jubilee Book of 1968; the “Handsome Depot” book, covering the 100 years of history of the Grossdale Train Station that I wrote in 1990; and maybe a book or two of my collected articles and columns that I’ve written for the Landmark.
Maybe I’ll drag along a few old historical artifacts, too. We’ll see how the day goes. Maybe nobody’ll show up and I’ll get in 40 winks, drink some Library Coffee, eat some Library Cookies, and wipe my lips with a Library Napkin. Anyway, depending on how it goes, this history/library gig might become a once-a-month thing. Or not. It’s up to you.
By the way, I’m willing to sign autographs on my old Landmark columns. I don’t charge for my autographs. Yet. Say, maybe I should put out a tip jar!
Should historical questions be quick, easy or non-existent, I am also fluent in the subjects of “Children’s Cartoons of the 21st Century” (ask me what 76QQ309 means, or how the “Rainbow Monkeys” song goes); Harry Potter (I was at Christ Church College in Oxford many times in the 1980s and 90s, so I actually do have a Hogwarts connection); Photographic Composition (my black-and-white versus color theory has gained some favor); and Time Travel (every historian should know about this subject).
So you see, it’s not as if I can do nothing but talk about local history. But that is what I will be there to do, primarily. I will be waiting for you.