There's nothing more exhausting — or more exhilarating — than a national conference.
Hit the ground running before 8 a.m., walk the equivalent of a few miles going between lecture halls, and don't relax in your hotel room until 9 at night (provided you're not a social butterfly that stays out even later). Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Tell me that you're still bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, and I'd doubt your veracity.
Attend sessions by some of the field's most knowledgeable speakers. Meet people from all over the country, and beyond. Walk the equivalent of a few miles visiting the booths inside the exhibit hall, and don't relax until you've seen all the latest genealogical tools and services. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Tell me that you're not pumped to put to use what you've learned (or bought!) and I'd wonder if you were ill.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies 2013 Conference takes place next week in Fort Wayne (Indiana, for those who haven't a clue), and it's jam-packed with lectures and special events. For more info, visit the conference website or the conference blog, which has helpful information about what to bring, what to see, and how to make the most of your conference experience. (Oh, it's on Facebook and Twitter, too.)
I often take my time driving to genealogical events, stopping to browse the antique stores. When I'm in Indianapolis, I try to hit the town of Kirklin, on US Route 421 north of the city. On the way to Fort Wayne I always try to hit the town of Pierceton, about eight miles east of Warsaw, in Kosciusko County. The shops are just a few blocks south of US 30. If I was traveling on a weekday or Saturday, I'd stop at The Village at Winona, in Winona Lake, right next to Warsaw. Craftsman bungalows house a lot of really cute shops, which are closed Sundays. But wait! There's more! The Indiana Antique Company is in Warsaw; it's open Sunday afternoons; and I've never been there yet. (Uh-oh. Once I stop there, I may never make it to Fort Wayne.)
I don't usually buy large, expensive things at these stores. In Pierceton I bought some vintage advertisements from old copies of the Saturday Evening Post.They're framed as wall art in the laundry room, as are three washboards. A trio of canning jars atop a cabinet hold wooden clothespins, thread spools, and colorful buttons.
So many items found in antique stores have a provenance: a monogrammed dresser set of hairbrush, mirror, and hair collector. A silver-knobbed walking stick. The old time photos (which many stores tout as "instant ancestors." OUCH! We genies know better, and would keel over in a dead faint if anyone in the photos actually WAS our ancestor!) Someone's old high school yearbook. (Some years ago, our Friends of the Library president downsized and donated her high school yearbooks to the Friends' Book Sale Room. Since the school was in Chicago and the library is in Indiana, the books weren't destined for the Local History Room. As soon as I saw them, I knew I wanted to buy them. Sure enough, they contained photos of an aunt and uncle. Finding my uncle's signature in the book was an unexpected bonus.)
You'll feel very old in the blink of an eye when you run across a collectable that is identical to one you had as a child. How about those metal banks that looked like a globe of the world? It threw me a few weeks ago when I saw a plastic toy Coca Cola fountain dispenser. I'd forgotten we even had that toy as kids. You'd insert an actual bottle of Coke into the toy, pull the handle, and the "fountain" would dispense the Coke into a little Coke-shaped plastic glass.
Antique stores or malls aren't really the place to take young children. Besides the breakables, there are heavy pieces of furniture that could fall on or injure a child (not to mention that your young one may run short on patience as you stroll from item to item). But once a child is a bit older, sharing remembrances about the playthings of your youth could prove a very worthwhile bonding experience. Who knows, it just might spark a family history flame in your descendants.