Today there's a lot of talk about influencers. This term usually refers to persons on social media with the ability to "promote" or "sell" a product, style, trend, etc. Yes, but in reality, influencer can have a broader, more personal meaning. Oxford Languages defines influencer as "a person or thing that influences another."
A significant influencer in my life, I recently realized, was the Kitchen Closet at Granny Cole's house in High Rock. Similar to Granny's pantry, which prompted this blog by the same name,
the Kitchen Closet is a place, not a person. It seems like a plain and insignificant spot, hidden behind the goose neck chair beside of the heater, but its contents, back in the day, was significant. Not so much for what it was but for what it represented, at least to me.
That closet held whatever article of outdoor wear or hunting you would need. Sweaters, scarves, orange hats, gloves, shoes, boots, coats, hunting jackets, guns, gun cleaning kits, shotgun shells. . . and more were behind that door. If you forgot your coat or were in a hurry and needed to grab one, you could find it in the Kitchen Closet.
That closet came to stand, to me, for what is known as the Boy Scout motto: Be Prepared! I don't know that Granny and Granddaddy set out to have a plan for most every eventuality. But their general lifestyle and location would almost demand such a philosophy. They lived in a rural setting and made their living from their farm. They lived through the Depression and its scarcities. No Walmarts, Coscos or Dollar Generals. While some goods were certainly available, it was a time of do-it, make-it, fix-it, cook-it, yourself.
Without knowing it at the time, the presence of that Kitchen Closet, embedded its chip in me that dictated, "You'd better collect it, keep it, save it, store it away 'cause you or someone you love might need it! The downside is that I have way too much stuff that no one will likely ever need!
The upside is that, when your daughter tells you she needs a black straw hat and black gloves the night before a horse show, you can dig around and produce her great grandmother's black straw hat, and you can dye a pair of tan leather gloves with black dye, and Ta Dah! You have what she needs.
Or if your son-in-law says, I need some utensils that look like they would have been used by soldiers in World War II, you can scrape up a toothbrush matching that era and an enamel cup that one of the other reenactors said was just like the real thing!
Or a co-worker needed some props to go into an historic school that was being restored, you can contribute a slate, lunch box, and old books to the cause.
- Need a collection of VCR tapes for children? Got them.
- Need clothing from the early 1900's? Yep.
- Need Civil War Era Daguerreotypes? Not a problem.
- Old postcards? You bet.
- Boxes of feed sack cloth for making dresses, aprons, and curtains like the 1940s? Lots of it.
- Quilt tops to quilts that have never been made? Of course.
- Stamp collection worth sentimental value only? Have that.
Restoration efforts at High Rock revealed at least 3 layers of wallpaper in the Kitchen Closet. Cousins I love kept them for me.
I might be some archaic form of prepper, it's true, but I learned it all
from the Kitchen Closet at High Rock!