I recently became a volunteer at the Southold Historical Society- a worthy and genteel organization staffed by professionals with a passion for history and volunteers with a talent for commerce … and an eye for antiques. I’m referring, of course, to the men and women who volunteer at the Society’s Treasure Exchange, a retail treasure trove of Other People’s Stuff. I’ve resisted buying anything – so far- though there are a few earrings and some china that I’d like to own. The women on the Treasure Exchange Appraisal Committee (many of them former antique store owners) are very discerning and will only accept the very nicest things for sale at the store. As one committee member told me, they don’t let “just anything” show up on their shelves.
I spend half my volunteer time half at the Exchange and half in the Archives Room upstairs, where I help Dan, the archives director, catalog local history. I’ve learned a great deal about the area already though nothing quite as interesting as the fact that Walt Whitman once lived very close to my house. And not only that but Whitman was a school teacher (briefly) and had, according to legend, been run out of town for molesting a boy.
All of this remains historical heresay though it has been much written-about and the school where Whitman taught for a year was labeled the “Sodom School” and later torn down. But the Sodom School actually showed up on local maps and according to one published in 1840, my house lies squarely within the Sodom School District.
I wonder if I could put the Sodom School District as my return address?