MANCHESTER — For Carolyn Van Horn, the past is still very present.

She tells stories about Lena Bonney and Alberta Shute and Esther and Fred Dudley as if she just talked to them last week.

Bonney, Shute and the Dudleys are long gone, but they live on in the things they left behind, things the Manchester Historical Society and Van Horn, its president, have collected and stored.

From 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, several hundred of those items, from a spinning wheel for flax that dates back possibly to the late 1700s to a crib for dolls that Van Horn’s uncle made for her sister in the 1940s, will be on display at the Manchester Grange Hall on U.S. Route 202.

This is the second year the history exhibit has been organized and presented, but the history of sharing history in Manchester goes back much further.

Van Horn credits Dave Silsby, who collected and kept all kinds of tools for farming, forestry and quarrying, documents and toys, for preserving a fair bit of the town’s history. He showed parts of his collection for a number of years to the town’s third-graders. When he was no longer able to do that, she said, those items came to the Historical Society.

“It’s really sad people can’t see what he left us,” she said Thursday as she and a team of volunteers were in the final stages of setting up the displays and matching labels to items. Silsby’s collection, along with items from the Snow and Larrabee families, were highlighted last year. This year, artifacts from the Cottle farm — the former home of Van Horn’s grandmother Alberta Shute and where she and her family now live — and from Lena Bonney and the Morrill family are on display. The society plans to present different collections every year.

The Bonneys’ contributions are signs of genteel living — the dinner jackets worn by the family’s men and the fancy dresses that Lena Bonney wore as a young woman along with the hats she made in her millinery classes.

“She hated those classes,” Van Horn said.

Bonney had wanted to take mathematics and science classes, but she was encouraged to follow pursuits that were considered more traditionally feminine. The hats on display are a testament to the diligence expressed by people of earlier generations who made everyday items by hand and kept them for years until they were passed on or wore out.

Van Horn’s family contributions include the handmade doll crib and the family record player from the 1950s, which played records at 33 rpm, 45 rpm and 78 rpm.

Van Horn said she’s worried that people will lose an appreciation for the work of previous generations and the fruits of that work.

“We know we have the properties we have because of our parents,” she said.

Vicki Kozak, the historical society treasurer and one of its volunteers, said she hopes parents or grandparents will be able to show their children and grandchildren what they did for fun before gaming consoles and satellite television.

The exhibit also presents a bit of historical mystery. On a table at the rear of the exhibit hall are several items whose name or purpose are unknown.

“Maybe someone can tell us what they’re for,” she said.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ

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