Sunday, March 4, 2012

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On the left is Rose Baggini, age 15, as shown on her Manhattan Trade School report card in 1932; on the right, Rose Baggini Vrana, age 95, in her Florida home on March 3, 2012.

Rose is the first -- and so far only -- living connection to Permanent Record. I interviewed her by phone a few weeks ago but didn't know what she looked like because she doesn’t own a camera or a computer. Fortunately, I was able to arrange for one of Rose's friends, Linda Cadovius, to take a photo of her and e-mail it to me. Linda, whose parents were close with Rose, lives nearby and looks in on her from time to time. Big thanks to her for serving as Permanent Record's first remote photographer.

My article about Rose will be appearing on Slate shortly -- stay tuned.

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Update: Remember all that stuff that I found in the pocket of an old jacket? I contacted the vintage shop where I bought the jacket and told them the whole story. "We receive a lot of merchandise, so we usually just pat down the items instead of checking each pocket," the owner told me. "I'm sure we've sold back hundreds of stray dollars and coins over the years." So much for my theory that they put random ephemera in random pockets, just for fun.

Meanwhile, my thanks to everyone who weighed in on the question of whether I should contact Ann Marie Kroznuski (the widow of the man whose stuff was in the pocket). For the record, my whole "Should I get in touch with her?" thing was meant to be rhetorical -- I don't plan to contact her.

Why not? Mainly because I think doing so would be selfish. When I track down a report card family, I gain information from them but I also provide lots of information for them regarding their ancestors, so it feels like a fair exchange. That's one of my favorite things about Permanent Record -- I'm giving as well as taking. But if I were to contact Ann Marie Kroznuski, it would probably be interesting for me (I'd get to ask her questions about the jacket, about her late husband, etc.), but what would she get out of it? A reminder of a check that she bounced years ago? Feels like a pretty one-sided interaction, which wouldn't be fair to her. So I don't think I'll be going there.

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