For Keeps

January 02, 2000|By Linell Smith

We often know our people -- the family who went before us -- by the property that survives them: the china tea cup, the steamer trunk, the letter in a language we can no longer read. We receive these things. We wonder about them. We make up stories, or embellish the ones we hear. It's fair to think, however, that our ancestors may not have cherished the heirlooms we associate with them. Perhaps they valued a punch recipe more than an engagement ring, a mess kit more than a pocket watch.

To commemorate the new century, The Sun asked a number of Marylanders to choose one belonging they thought would best represent them 100 years from now.

They could select something they had created or collected. They could pick something from a particular era, such as the Depression or the civil rights movement, that mattered deeply to them. They could choose an heirloom they had inherited -- or anything we hadn't thought of. Their selection could be serious, whimsical or amusing, but it had to reflect their values or tastes.

The goal was to provide a snapshot of our community through the possessions we cherish at this particular time. And to give the generation not yet born something unexpected, and true, about the family who went before them.

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