I don’t have a picture of my great-great-grandfather Martin Haigney, and I highly doubt I ever will, but it’s amazing how much pictorial material you can build up on somebody if you poke around enough.
Yeah, I’m bragging.
Today’s Exhibit A is my photo of Building 24 at the Watervliet Arsenal in Watervliet, N.Y. In the 19th century, this building was the enlisted men’s barracks, and Martin lived here for at least part of his military service from 1854-67.
Taking this picture was not exactly a slam-dunk, since the Arsenal is still an active military facility, and you can’t run around the place unescorted snapping away at will. People would look at you funny, among other things.
However, Scott, the museum curator at the Arsenal, kindly walked over to Building 24 with me so I could record it for my ever-growing files of Martinmobilia.
Then he suggested we take a look inside, warning me that Building 24 is a plain old office building today, and therefore not terribly exciting or atmospheric. He was quite right – think fluorescent-illuminated institutional décor, and you’ll be on the money. It must have been a far cry from whatever the barracks looked like in Martin’s day.
But, as Scott said, at least I can say I’ve stood inside the walls of the place where Martin lived so long ago. And yes, that did count for something.