Finding the future by uncovering the past

Avalon History Day organizer Cindy Bujalski sorts through some of the many documents, photos and items that will be on display at Avalon Public Library this Sunday afternoon. The event also will include other activities for adults and children. Photo by Connie Rankin for The Citizen

Cindy Bujalski found an unexpected benefit to working part-time in the Avalon tax office.

“I started hearing all these stories, the history of Avalon, things I didn’t know about the borough,” she said.

She found the tales of streetcars and stores long gone from Avalon’s landscape to be fascinating and wanted to learn more, but it seemed the history of the borough was more anecdotal than anything else, stories passed down from parents and grandparents but never recorded for future generations.

Bujalski thought it would be a shame to lose that past, and proposed a History Day that would collect documents, memorabilia and artifacts, and give old-timers an opportunity to share their memories of the borough by recording them on DVD.

A member of the library board, she pitched the idea to them and got an enthusiastic response.

The search for Avalon’s history began in the library’s dusty and disorganized “archive” room, where volunteers opened a bag of what appeared to be rags to find a handmade quilt that experts say was created in the 1880s.

Volunteers have learned that the quilt was stitched by an Avalon woman, Mary Mattern Weber, from scraps of satin and velvet, hand-painted swatches sewn together with silver and gold threads.

The quilt will be just one of many pieces of Avalon’s history on display this Sunday afternoon at the library, where area residents are invited to learn about the community’s past.

Bujalski and other volunteers hope the information will inspire Avalon residents to see the borough’s potential and get involved to help recreate the small town, family-oriented community that once existed.

And they’ll get that opportunity on Sunday, when the police department offers fingerprinting and photo I.D.s for children, and the Avalon Quality of Life Committee distributes information on their projects.

“We want to look at what the past was, and focus on the future,” Bujalski said.

Google Video