A Personal Artifact

One of my personality traits which springs from my love of history is a fascination with artifacts. I am captivated by pieces of the past, and am especially enamored when I’m able to touch said artifacts 1. This fascination also holds true with personal artifacts. Such as the football shown below.

A Spalding Football

In fact, this particular piece of sporting equipment has been rescued twice.

It’s most recent rescue came when my parents sold my home. I did a last exploration of “the thing 2 and was shocked to find an old football under one of the benches. I snatched it up and took it home, rescuing it from the trash heap of history 3.

As I wrote, however, this was not the first time this football had been saved. It’s original storage location was the closet in my grandparent’s house. This was the football my cousins and uncles took out every Christmas to play our annual Christmas Bowl 4. We played in snow and mud, and loved every minute of it. Even better, with the arrival of video cameras, the games were filmed, and we’d watch them as a family before Christmas dinner – along with my Father’s famous commentary.

This football is part of my family’s history, and most likely even pre-dates my generation. And what’s wonderful is that it smells like it. My grandparent’s closet had a particular smell that’s difficult to describe. It was a combination of old coats, the remnants of sporting equipment from a six child family, and the dirt which somehow never never got washed off when said equipment was put away. It wasn’t an unpleasant odor by any stretch, and when I catch the closet’s scent off of that old football it transports me to a quiet place. That old closet was so full of the detritus from a large family that it ate sound – it was one of the most quiet places I’ve ever encountered. And it’s both strange and gratifying to think I might possess one of the last artifacts from that lost space of family history.

  1. Such as in historical structures with original features still in place. Things like that give me goosebumps. Yes, I’m strange. 
  2. This was the bench which surrounded the “breakfast nook” in my childhood home. The seats lifted up for storage, and we called it “the thing.” I can still hear my mother telling me, “Put your shoes in the thing.” 
  3. Which are actually sites which hold a great deal of data for archaeologists. Finding a trash heap is as good as buried treasure. Actually, it is buried treasure. 
  4. Nothing says “Peace on Earth” like a violent tackle football game.