Monday, September 27, 2010

What Would You Grab?

Last week my sister Kathleen, a couple of friends from St. Charles County, and I had the privilege of taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Missouri History Museum Library and Research Center. The library is located in the former Hebrew synagogue on Skinker Boulevard, not far from Washington University in St. Louis. The library site itself is historic. In November 1960, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King addressed the congregation during his Civil Rights campaign.

Last week's special tour was to thank people who volunteered during the Vatican Splendors exhibitition last May-September, which was a treat in itself. More than 101,000 people toured the exhibit--and I do believe most of them came on Thursdays (the day our St. Charles group volunteered). :-)

The library tour was fascinating. In the downstairs laboratory, we got to see how antiques are restored and evaluated to determine when and where they were made. Other items we got to see were furniture and household items from the 1770s and the famous "Chipmunk Quilt"--which indeed does have two chipmunks and bird feathers embedded in the quilt. We also saw Civil War uniforms, an antique shoe collection, and got a preview of the "Black Dress" collection slated for display in 2012.

Before beginning our tour, Dr. Robert R. Archibald, President of the Missouri History Museum, gave a brief address on some of the collections in the library. He talked about how the contents of the library really tell the stories of those who lived before us, and how important our stories will be to those who come after us.

During his talk he mentioned how natural disasters, such as floods, cause people to think about the items they truly cherish. For example, on many film clips during the Great Flood of 1993-- which devestated parts of Missouri and Illinois--news reports showed people fleeing their homes carrying family photo albums.

Dr. Archibald's talk got me to thinking. If a natural disaster were to strike, what few precious items would I grab before evacuating?

For me, it would be family photos, our family Bible, and special drawings, notes and cards from my children and grandchildren.

How about you: In the event of a catastrophe or natural disaster, what would you grab on your way out the door?

P. S. The Missouri History Museum needs volunteers, especially for their upcoming exhibits. Volunteering is fun and fascinating, especially for writers or anyone interested in history. So, if you live in the metro-St. Louis area and have about 10 hours a month to spare, visit the Missouri History Museum website and find out how you can volunteer.


  1. Assuming I had the time to dash up the stairs, throw everything off the love chest, then rummage around-I'd grab the baby photo albums inside. Then I'd run over and put on my rings and my necklace with the cross (I don't wear jewelry when I'm at home), grab the few pieces of jewelry that have been in my family for years, then back down the stairs to get hubby's meds ('cause I know he'd forget) and my laptop AND the cord. And if I'm being really honest, I'd probably stuff some underwear and a toothbrush and toothpaste in my purse. Just because it's a disaster doesn't mean one can forgo personal hygiene. Maybe that's a Southern thing. :-)

  2. Oh Cathy C. you are hilarious, as always! I would have to add BOOKS!! What if there was no electricity to plug that laptop into?? Huh?? Did ya think of that?? I'd have to grab my doggy, my books, pen and paper...prescription meds is very important, too!! :)

  3. Sounded a fascinating visit.

    Okay. What would I grab? Assuming I had a few minutes, it would be family photos, favourite books, medication, and a pen and notepad!

  4. I would definitely grab my shoulder bag. I have everything in there anyway. I dream about being a contestant on "Let's Make a Deal" or some version of that program,so I usually have alot of "important" stuff in the bag already. But I agree with the previous entries: meds, photos, adress/telephone book, clothes. Of course, in all seriousness, I would make sure all the people and any pets that are home would be first on the list.

  5. Besides my loved ones and dogs, I would probably grab my laptop. I can't live w/o it!


  6. I admit, I read the other comments, and I agree with them. However, since I don't have any valuable jewels, I could spend more time grabbing other things.

    Family members, dogs, photos and my laptop, since so much "stuff" is on my laptop. Oh, and my camera.

  7. Years ago, I lived in Savannah, GA and had to evacuate for a that became a very real question. It was an eye-opener. Suddenly things like my grandfather's broken watch and the family Bible became some of the most precious things I own (besides pets, etc.).

    Anyway, very informative post. Not to mention thought-provoking!

  8. Hmmm...gosh. How much time would I have? That's pertinent. Assuming my human loved ones could walk out of their own volition---if I had only: 1 minute, I'd grab my dogs, cats and pertinent medicines; 3 minutes, dogs, cats, meds, photo albums; 6 minutes, all of the above (aota) plus sentimental jewelry; 8 minutes, aota, my laptop, flash drive, and wood spirit my daddy carved; 10 minutes, aota and all the sentimental stuff I could carry or stuff into a bag. See, the amount of time is critical, 'cause that might alter priorities.

  9. Hi Donna,
    I'd grab my purse; gotta have that cell phone, and also a photo album of my kids, those Sears 8"x10" portraits that I had taken of them every six months from birth through their teens (and spent a fortune on.)

  10. Hi All,
    Thanks for all your great responses.
    Of course, I'd assume all loved ones and pets were out before I grabbed other stuff.
    Makes me want to get organized and put all my sentimental and irreplaceable valuables in one safe spot.
    You gals are the best!

  11. Years ago we had a house fire that generated lots of smoke. We grabbed the critters and got out with the clothes on our backs. There wasn't a second to grab anything else as we stood outside waiting for the fire trucks to arrive. It was such a frightening and helpless feeling!



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