A fire company flag from 1929 — when Baldwin Independent Fire Co. No. 1 was first incorporated — hung over a table. Nearby, there were old Baldwin police and high school band uniforms on display, along with a child’s bed from the 1800s and an ironing board from 1913.
The Baldwin Historical Society hosted its first-ever open house inside the borough’s municipal building on Oct. 7 to display the artifacts it’s collected over the decades to the community.
“We live in a vibrant, ongoing community and I want people to see what our history was,” said Pat Lombardi, president of the historical society.
The Baldwin Historical Society, founded in 1997, has gathered closets full of history that include everything from a spinning wheel from the Sisters of St. Francis of the Providence of God in Whitehall to handmade quilts and a military uniform from World War I.
They have binders that compile the history of the borough and its various facets and they even spend time with residents researching their past.
“We will research for you. Anything you need to know,” said member Stephanie Paul. “We want people to know that we’re here. Ask us questions. We will help you find the answers. The answers are in your history.”
Most of the items collected by the historical society are kept in storage, either at the municipal building, Baldwin High School or Lombardi’s home. The historical society has two display cases at the Baldwin Borough municipal building, which is its only place to showcase the collection.
Community groups, like Cub Scout Pack 326, were invited to participate in the open house.
The youngsters participated by selling popcorn and inviting kids to join their pack.
“It’s important because we like to do service projects and that’s one of the main reasons we are scouts,” said William Konvolinka, 10, who added that this is right in the middle of “popcorn season” and the perfect time to attend events to sell.
Students from Baldwin High School read speeches and poems of historic value that reflect on the current culture today.
“Our main idea was to do a mix of entertaining and influencing to kind of show that we can do something,” said junior Jacob Dulya, 16, who read O’Brien’s Monologue from “1984” by George Orwell.
Junior Malcolm Jenkins, 16, said it’s important to know about your past. “There are a lot of things about the area you live that you don’t know and should. Learning about why history is important, not only because of what is going on politically and socially, it all really does interconnect,” said Jenkins, who read Charlie Chapin’s The Final Speech from “The Great Dictator.”
“It’s important to learn your roots and learn from your history, and about your history, because truly you need it in your life to succeed,” added freshman Cindy Flaherty, 15, who read Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech to Barratt Junior High School.
For Sandy Bennett, a historical society member and former longtime Baldwin mayor, their speeches struck a chord.
“I sort of got emotional when I saw all of these young people up there speaking. When they were talking about their future, I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God. What are we going to leave them?’ They are involved in the history. They’re afraid of what we’re going to leave their world like for them,” he said. “That should have hit every adult in this room right there. Because we’re doing nothing but destroying it. I was so happy to see what young people are like today. There’s proof right there that these people want to know where they want to go.”