Time travelers dwell among us

Published 11:25 am Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Following the Memorial Day service at Boykins, I ventured into town and viewed the mini-museum that’s just been established in the former Pope Building on Virginia Avenue. As the description implies, it’s a small space for a collection of articles and memorabilia related to the town’s history. Who knew Boykins once had its own newspaper? I certainly didn’t.

My visit took about all of 15 minutes, which could have easily stretched to around 30 minutes but for the concert I was soon to attend in Norfolk.

True, it doesn’t have the sophistication of larger collections. But there’s something to be said for diversions such as the mini-museum. As much as I enjoy the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., it can be somewhat exhausting. If you’ve ever ventured to a large-sized attraction — an amusement park, museum, zoo, etc. — then you know of what I speak, er, write. After awhile, all the rides, landscapes, paintings, sculptures, display cases and animals can become just a colorful blur.

In contrast, the Rawls Museum Arts, as well Southampton County’s museums dedicated to agriculture and history, are a few other local examples of how you don’t need an overwhelming amount of things to educate or entertain.

With that in mind, I’d like to suggest that rather than taking out a loan for a vacation, you consider seeking out what’s around you within minutes or even a short day trip. For it’s not just buildings and things that should be explored. There’s also the people associated with said venues to meet. Whether they’re the ones taking care of galleries and museums, or even living in the same town, the residents can be as interesting as the sights.

I am reminded of a chapter in Ray Bradbury’s novel, “Dandelion Wine,” in which the lead character and friends periodically visit an old man in the small town. Recounting his experiences of decades keeps the boys spellbound. One of them recognizes him for what he is: a time machine.

The same can be said for most people we meet. Talking with one person alone can send us across decades and miles within a close range and relatively brief amount of time.

STEPHEN H. COWLES is a staff writer for The Tidewater News. Contrary to all the white hairs on his chinny chin chin, he’s only 54 years old, but still has stories to tell. Contact him at 562-3187 or stephen.cowles@tidewaternews.com.