I took my aluminum tree down yesterday, first taking off the sparkly beads, then the vintage ornaments. Finally, I removed the “tree branches” and placed all but one in the original brown paper tubes. As a random “collector” of old things, my curiosity got the best of me this year. Why hadn’t I ever researched the Aluminum Specialty Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin before? The tree’s storage box is stamped with the company’s name, as well as the original sale tag from Damariscotta Hardware. Six dollars and sixty-six cents.
I could have looked up “aluminum Christmas tree” on Wikipedia. This entry tells a lot about the nostalgic holiday artifact; probably more than the average American would need to know. Interestingly enough, Charlie Brown is to blame for the demise of the “Evergleam” tree.
But my reverie, as I took down my tree, examined the box and searched the internet, is more about people. What type of people worked in that aluminum factory near the banks of Lake Michigan? Did they think the trees were beautiful or bizarre? According to the Wikipedia article, the Aluminum Specialty Company began producing them in 1959; did it take until 1961 for them to make their way to Damariscotta, Maine? Who had owned my little well-preserved tree? Did it sit in the attic after it fell out of favor? How did it make its way to Orphan Annie’s in Auburn, where I bought it in 2000 for what seemed like an outrageous price of $50.
In situations like this, taking down the tree becomes a long and drawn out affair. The house lights will stay on through Wednesday night, which is Epiphany. If I’m lucky, there won’t be any dramatic reworking and nostalgic contemplation; the lights will just go out.
Helen might say, “time marches on…”
The big New Year’s news here on the blog is that I’m going to trim my blogging down by one day. I’m not going to be blogging less, though; you’ll be able to read my weekly “Lady Alone Traveler” blogs, which I generally post on the Sun Journal’s site on Wednesday or Thursday. I’ll use this Friday blog space to link to the “other” blog, just in case you miss it.
I’ve started research into my Carnegie library travel project and just began reading a big fat biography of Andrew. Out of curiosity, I asked Wikipedia for a list of Carnegie libraries in Wisconsin; I was saddened to read there had once been a Carnegie library in Manitowoc, but the town outgrew the building in the mid-1960’s. It was torn down in order to build a bigger library, oddly coincident with the aluminum Christmas tree’s peak in popularity.
I’m sure that had nothing to do with it.