Reflecting on the sound of history

Kathleen J. McCully, Executive Director
Isanti County Historical Society

As I watched the Grammy Awards and listened to all the music this past weekend, I began to wonder about the kinds of sound that history makes. We can all hear it you know, if we take the time. It is all around us and deep inside us. The sounds show themselves when we least expect them, and are fueled by a number of sources.

How about an old ice skate? It brings me back to evening skates at our neighborhood rink with all my friends from school. The blades hitting the ice, the laughing and screaming as we played crack the whip around the rink. Then there was the music and the heat of the warming house and the blades hitting the wooden floor before getting to the rink.

Close your eyes and see what comes to life in your mind’s eye. A conversation which took place in days past between you and your mom or dad. It could be the one where they say, “You will thank us for this one day” in their voices, with their inflections at a time of “less than perfect” behavior? Or hearing their sorrow at the news of the death of one of their parents. Or just sitting with your dad at the kitchen table and talking about “things” as he plays solitaire, with each card being flipped (snapped) over off the deck and placed or discarded.

Photographs really speak loud. They tell stories about people, places and events captured in time. Bring out the old photos at a family gathering and listen to the sounds: the sighs, the smiles, the tears and cries, the questions and the “real” story behind the picture. Sounds you will never expect, and if not written down will be silenced forever.

What else will speak to you? A place, a building, an article of clothing, a song, a letter, a sibling? Your assignment for the week is to become aware of the sound of history in your life. However fleeting, you will recognize it when it surfaces, and how. History is everywhere, all the time, is global and also very personal. And it will be as loud as you will allow it to be! Just listen and enjoy!

The mission of the Isanti County Historical Society is to promote and preserve its history, and all the sounds that it makes. As we process salvaged documents we are hearing many sounds long forgotten as we look over the contents of each folder.

This is Week 32 after the fire and our marathon journey in recovery and rebuilding continues. Fiscal support is still needed to replace funds lost due to lack of programs and events. If you want to support ICHS, donations are greatly appreciated and can be made by mail, at our website, or directly at Cambridge State Bank. For all other inquiries, visit, follow us on Facebook, call us at 763-689-4229, email at [email protected] or drop us a letter at 1700 E. Rum River Drive S., Suite K, Cambridge, MN 55008. We are open by appointment only at this time.