The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, December 17, 2004


Secrets from old attics

At the Carlisle Historical Society's Holiday Open House this past Sunday, my husband and I discovered one of the jewels in our town: the Captain Samuel Heald House, located at 698 Concord Street. Hundreds of interesting artifacts are on display, grouped by common themes such as: cooking and candle making, farming, carpenter and old dental tools, antique clothes and embroidery samplers. One room holds a collection of Civil War relics from the Battle of Gettysburg. Upstairs old manuscripts and textiles are carefully cataloged and preserved. An intriguing item in another room was an old-fashioned stroller designed with springs to cushion the ride — but without visible safety features to actually keep the child on the high seat.

Items in the collection were donated over many years by Carlisle residents, but the Historical Society did not have such an excellent setting for its collection until the Heald House was purchased in 2001.

The house itself is rich in historical value. Built in 1740 by Samuel Heald, the farmhouse burned, and was restored in 1788 by his son, Captain Samuel Heald. The barn was built in 1849, and is currently undergoing repairs. Before 2001 the property was known as Coppermine Farm, in remembrance of the mine operated nearby in the mid-1800s. Reportedly, the air pollution from the mining operations bothered the neighbors and damaged vegetation on their farms. The mine was closed after about a decade.

The limited parking available on the site may be one reason this wonderful small museum is not generally open to the public. Besides last week's event, Historical Society volunteers have offered tours for small groups, and hopefully will continue to find ways to share their collection with the public. We owe the Carlisle Historical Society a debt of gratitude for all their work in preserving the history of our town.

For more information about this interesting property see: "Coppermine Farm: This Staunch House," by Ellen Miller in the Mosquito on April 6, 2001. Conni Manoli-Skocay and Stephanie Upton described the work of the Historical Society in their November 26, 2004 Mosquito article, "Carlisle Historical Society celebrates the past." These articles can both be found in the Mosquito archive at the web site:

Seasoned ministerial musings on the season

I'm feeling old this Christmas season . . . how about you? Surely one of the privileges and rights of older middle age is to muse a bit. Middle age . . . who am I kidding? I don't expect to live to be 120! I'm pushing 60, and that means one half of my life has been lived in this little town in which we raised four kids and have welcomed three grandchildren, with another due this coming May. Yes, I do have pictures, if anyone was wondering. This isn't what I would or could have been musing about a long-short time ago when I was 30, with hair and long sideburns. But with the kindness you might extend to a plump, bald, sort-of-jolly older man, let me muse about the meaning of Christmas as a minister of the Gospel who is entering younger old age, for that is who I am and what I am doing.

It's easy to become sentimental about a baby. To see your "baby" have a baby would do something even to a crusty curmudgeon, I would think. But Christmas is not a time to be sentimental about the Baby. We would do well to make a sober, wide-eyed appraisal of ourselves and our world, using our minds more than our feelings.

When we are quiet enough, do we not hear from young and older hearts alike an "arrhythmia" due to lack of meaning and satisfaction and pain with relationships, work, and life? There is something profoundly unsettling about living life in these bodies in this world. There is a kind of incurable "heart disease" that grabs anyone who has no hope of anything better than this life, because however long it is, it's short — with trials and troubles of all kinds.

Can some things get clearer as cataracts ripen? I say "yes," and hearts can soften as arteries harden, and a mind can understand more as short-term memory worsens. If your judgment is, "I'm out of my mind," be amused with my musings. Be amazed again at the diversity in our town as you read this truth claim.

There is something to catch this Christmas, and I don't mean the flu. It's not caught by science, but it is as true as anything science has proven. British physicist Arthur Eddington used a metaphor to encourage us to remember there are some limitations with science. It is as if science is fishing with a net with six-inch openings. This means they can never bring in fish shorter than six inches, but we all know it would be a mistake to assume that there are no fish shorter than six inches that exist in the ocean. It's just that no matter how long, how well science fishes, the net it uses to determine all that is in the ocean doesn't, can't work.

I guess my musing brings me to this point: Be sentimental this sentimental season. Enjoy families and babies and parties. Look at picture albums and home movies, complete with popcorn. I intend to be sentimental and enjoy it, but please don't be sentimental about Christmas. There is something else to catch with a "different net" that brings life and joy and hope to this aging minister, and it's the truth about that Baby who was born to die that I might live and die with hope!


2004 The Carlisle Mosquito