Years ago I was vacationing in Maine at a friend’s family beach house. Exploring the local town I happened upon a flea market where a guy was selling several old canvas bags filled with mismatched tools. I liked the markings on the front flap, two crossed rifles with a number, and the stenciled U.S. below that. I picked out the cleanest one, made sure it still had its leather strap attached, dumped out the shitty tools and paid the man $10, I think. I took it back to the house and scrubbed the grease off with a garden hose and some Pledge. For years I used it for various things, including a portfolio bag and my sketch notebook bag, and it’s currently sitting downstairs in a waterproof tote with other art supplies and my library of old sketchbooks.
For some reason this morning it popped into my head, and I did a little internet sleuthing on the train. Turns out it’s a U.S. Army field mess haversack, first manufactured in 1876, meant for carrying food tins and utensils. Over the years my leather disintegrated but I was able to retain both of the brass hooks, which I still have, set aside for new leather.
I’m not sure, and I have to ask Jen if she knows of anything else, but that bag might be the oldest thing in this house.