Monday, September 13, 2010


I am still at the office, but I am taking a much deserved rest... before I leave for the day.

I spent the entirety of my day in the Archive Room - an oversized closet with plywood racks to hold drawing tubes - and sorting through boxes of old vendor files and personnel files. We don't want to shred everything, mostly because our shredder is terrible, but we also didn't want to risk a voided check falling into the wrong hands. So I sorted through the boxes, pulling out file folders pertaining to financial documents, and scanning for potentially historically significant correspondence.

As I winnowed the boxes down, piling the culled ones in the hall so I could move more freely, I came upon two enormous banker boxes of correspondence pertaining to projects from the 1960s and 1970s. They were in complete disarray, as the file folders had been piled haphazardly in the boxes to begin with. The boxes themselves were crushed, rotted from the dampness in Oldsmobile's garage. So I sorted through the boxes as best I could, and put the papers into new file boxes.

I was terrified.

Some of the paper was thin, onionskin paper, the weight of tissue paper, almost, and I kept imagining myself tearing some potentially priceless piece of paper a future biographer might require in order to complete a (hypothetical) biography of Oldsmobile.

I managed to get all the papers into new boxes - we ran out of file boxes, by the way - and placed them into our materials and slide library, along with the slides we have that show Oldsmobile's work, and that were scattered throughout the offices and the Archive room, taking up precious space that I need.

Of course, I also found more things belonging to Oldsmobile's son, and I cried over them. Maybe it was the physical stress, or the fact that I didn't sleep last night, but I found the boy's High School ID card, and a photograph of him with a friend. I found the letter Oldsmobile sent to the exclusive prep school in the northeast that his son attended, establishing a memorial scholarship in the boy's name.

I also found some humorous things. Oldsmobile collects postcards (there is a book on the shelf above my desk entitled Boring Postcards), and there was a book of postcards in a box - yet another haphazard collection of ephemera - called Lost, Lonely, and Viscious: Postcards From the Great Trash Films. They're reproductions at 5"x7" of movie posters for "films" such as Juvenile Jungle. It was good for a laugh.

We also, I discovered, were archiving a bottle of sweet vermouth from the 1980s. It is the second bottle of hard liquor I've found in the Archive Room. Oldsmobile, when I waggled it in his face with a mischievous grin, said "Babe, toss it! It's probably vinegar by now!" I didn't taste it, but the smell seemed to confirm that it was no longer drinkable.

Heh. Oldsmobile called me "Babe." And at a point when I was feeling very much not a "Babe": sweaty, dusty, and with aching smelly feet. Ugh.

Throughout the day, curious neighbors poked their heads into the door of the Archive Room. "Whatcha doin'?"

"A little bit of weight lifting."

"Haha. Well, I guess it's got to be done at some point, eh?"

"Yup." Leave me alone. I've got files to purge.

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