It’s Fair time again in Montgomery County! If you have plans to go, I encourage you to make your way up to the very top of the Fairgrounds to the Old Timers’ Building, where you’ll see many fabulous objects similar to the fabulous ones I’ve featured on this blog. (An imaginary prize to those of you who spot/recognize a fireless cooker!) These objects do not come from museums; instead they are contributed each year by Montgomery County residents from their own collections. (Yes, I do covet many of these items, but no, I do not lurk at the entrance handing out my card.) The Old Timers’ Building is also the home of: antique cars, tractors, and fire engines; the fruit, vegetable and flower competition; various demonstrations throughout the day; and a small exhibit by the Montgomery County Historical Society. Then your walk back to the parking lot is downhill, and takes you past the cheese place, the ice cream place, Old McDonald’s Barn, the bunny barn… it’s well worth the trek through the Fairgrounds!

Oh, right, I’m supposed to be talking about our own artifacts. Here are two agricultural implements, whose friends and relations you might see at the Old Timers’ display.

This handmade apple picker comes from The Briers, the Jones family’s home outside of Olney. I think it’s fairly easy to envision how it works: pull the apple off with the ‘claws’ at the top, and it falls into the lacrosse-stick-like basket. Made of metal wires twisted into a basket shape and attached to an unfinished stick (still has its bark and all, though well-worn with use), it’s 4 feet long from end to end. It dates from the 19th century, but could have been used up until the day (in 1962) that it was donated by Mrs. Josiah Waters Jones.

This double-pronged iron ice hook (6 inches from point to point) was originally attached to an 8 or 10 foot pole; today it is on a much shorter replacement handle. The donor, William Nicholson, is the one who rescued the iron hook and gave it a new handle; according to his information, this was used in “the late 1910s or early 1920s to haul blocks of ice from ponds to Rockville ice houses” – specifically, ponds located about where today I-270 crosses Falls Road. Those of you familiar with the area, please envision hauling heavy blocks of ice from the Falls Road interchange to, say, the Rockville town center. (Now go thank your freezer’s ice-maker.) The replacement pole is a finished handle, stamped “Wire Hrd & Lbr” for Wire Hardware & Lumber, a Rockville landmark for many years; to learn more about the business and the building, check out Peerless Rockville’s history.

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