Today is officially National Have Fun At Work Day! In celebration of the occasion, Mr. Benjamin brought some vanilla cake with chocolate frosting for us to enjoy. Aside from the cake, activities at the archives proceeded as normal: cleaning the fifth-floor study hall, reviewing the Home Movie Collection, and learning about the subjects depicted in the films. In short, a normal Monday.
Since I clean the fifth-floor study hall on Mondays, I gathered the necessary supplies upon entering the office. Due to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, today represented the first time I cleaned the hall in two weeks. Not knowing what mess awaited me, I hoped the meager quantity of cleaning wipes would last the process. At first, this seemed an easy task as minimal cleaning seemed necessary. This changed as I further progressed into the halls: the visible pencil markings, sticky surfaces, and coffee stains reminded me how messy some people are.
After I finished cleaning, I collected the Home Movie Collection materials and resumed reviewing footage. Only a handful of Miriam Rowe’s films remained and three broad subjects stood out: New York, Florida, and Germany. The New York footage featured more iconic landmarks including the Statue of Liberty. While the Germany footage included more of the family visiting their German relatives in the 1960s, this particular batch also included the means of which the family arrived: a cruise ship! The Florida footage gave me more familiarity with what was depicted and at the same time provided a learning experience about Sunshine State.
For example, I saw some sites from the Kennedy Space Center I had never seen before. I have been to the Kennedy Space Center many times, especially when I was a child. I have seen the Saturn rockets, the museum, and the shuttle simulator. This family managed to get footage of the Mercury 7 Monument, dedicated to the original seven astronauts: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. After reading Tom Wolfe’s book, The Right Stuff, for my US Space History class, seeing the monument made me appreciate the film more.
Another aspect captured in the footage is Florida’s wildlife. Mourning doves, squirrels, cardinals, and a small alligator all represented the staples of my life experience in the state of Florida. The family managed to capture something I have never seen in person: handlers milking snake venom. While I was impressed by some of the techniques and equipment used by the handlers as I had never seen them before, the identity of the snakes intrigued me more.
The first snake’s scale pattern did not allow me to positively identify the serpent. The best contender was the cotiara, a pit viper from South America. The second one was undoubtedly familiar: the Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake. Granted I have never once encountered the snake in the wild (with no plans to do so, either), I at least recognized the creature. The family also got to hold a black racer, a snake I have encountered at my childhood home.
These wonders came to a close as my shift did. I quickly packed the Home Movie Collection without cutting corners and returned the collection to the stacks. Afterward, I bid farewell to the staff and left for the day.
In review, I cleaned the fifth-floor study hall and continued to review the Home Movie Collection. Tomorrow, I finish reviewing Miriam Rowe’s films. Until then, enjoy the evening and stay safe! Bye!