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The Dangers of Memory

A couple of days on from our discovery of the break-in at church and the theft of the honour board, I have dealt with all the people I had to deal with, although the police have yet to actually come and take a look: because we had no clear idea of when the event occurred forensics would be useless, so it becomes a low prioity case.  Although I'm still pretty annoyed about the loss, life moves on.

When we discovered the loss one of the people who'd come to retrieve it said that the man over the road would be upset because his name was on the board. I was surprised and asked how old he was - early to mid eighties came the reply.  But the school closed in ~1910 (or so I've always been told, and it seems to fit the few written records I've seen) which would make anyone who'd attended it at least mid-nineties and if they'd been old enough to be recorded on the roll, well over 100. Clearly the person who told me had never put two and two together, he simply accepted the claim uncritically.  This - and things like it - is why I am very wary of some of the oral history gathering that happens.  Not because it is incomplete or inaccurate but because even blatant impossibilities are never questioned or checked.

That the school was important, I have no doubt whatsoever - it was to accommodate it that the 'new' 1875 building was constructed.  That the honour board was left in a dark store room and not appreciated is very sad - especially as the place was plagued with commemorative plaques.  This is probably why someone (who has not graced the place with his presence in decades) can believe his name is recorded on a roll of honour that closed before he was born: maybe he was a schoalrship or grammar school boy who simply assumes his name was added?

Sadly, it seems very unlikely that we'll ever be able to check (no one had photographed this board, unlike all the plaques which were) and I'm certainly not about to tell an elderly man that he can't be right in his recollections.  But it all makes me wonder about locally recorded histories and just what they really tell us.

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