In August 2018, during Older Student Registration, students Carol Chester and Gail Johnston, with guidance from Joanne Jaber Gauvin from the Urban Action Institute, initiated the Older Student Writing Project (OSWP). The goal of the project was to collect personal essays written by older students and to have them printed in a university publication. The purpose of the project was to highlight the work of older students, showing that they add to the diversity of the WSU community.
By Robert Megerdichian
For me, movies imitate life.
How often have you watched actors on film extract a hidden treasure? Think of Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Goonies, Romancing the Stone, National Treasure, and Monuments Men.
Finding hidden treasure really did happen to me about five years ago. I opened a box which my late father had constructed to store metal art that he himself had crafted. Dad had been a machinist. During lunch break he would gather solid scrap metal and shape it (or “machine it” in his lingo) to produce his interpretations of everyday objects. After 30 years of creating his pieces as gifts for my mother, sisters and me, our house filled up with Dad’s art. One piece would go on a shelf, replacing another, which would head to the basement. Dad built a storage box, complete with hand-made, metal corner guards and hasp for the lock. Eventually the box filled up. Mom locked the box and covered it with a cloth.
Sadly, Dad passed away at age 59, and the locked box sat ignored for thirty years. When my wife Becky saw the box five years ago, she asked what was in it.
“Dad’s art,” I said.
“Well, open it,” she said. Easier said than done, however, because I didn’t recall where the key was kept. I looked everywhere. No luck. Finally, I remembered Dad’s glass jar storage system. He had screwed narrow pine boards perpendicularly to the wooden joists in the basement. Then he had screwed Maxwell House Coffee lids to the boards, from which he had hung the coffee jars to store miscellaneous items. In one jar, he had put various keys. One key had a label attached by a string. On the label were the words “the things I’ve made” in Dad’s Armenian handwriting, his language of choice. Success! The key opened the box.
One by one, Becky and I excitedly withdrew the gifts from the box. We were astonished to see jewelry, lamps, toys, vases, and candle holders, all made from solid copper, brass, stainless steel, or aluminum. There were also graduation presents Dad had made for Mom, my sisters, and me. The presents were metal paperweights, made in the form of a book, inscribed with our name, college, and year of graduation. After emptying the box, Becky and I realized we had hundreds of items. Attached to each item were memories of Dad.
Organizing the collection of Dad’s artwork, I created a list and photographed each piece. Then I convinced an industrial museum to display some of the collection. During the past five years, several other museums have exhibited pieces from Dad’s collection. On numerous occasions, I have also given presentations about Dad and his art. My long-term goal is to open a museum/gallery to permanently display the collection. Currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program at Worcester State University, I am learning how to accomplish that goal.
Promoting Dad’s artwork has become my passion. I take great pleasure in opening an exhibit and announcing that my father created the objects on display. From this experience, I have come to realize that each of us has something special deep inside that truly drives us – something that gives us joy.
Just as my father’s art found me, your special something can find you. Look around. Dig deep inside. Ask yourself: If I could do anything, anything at all, what would I want to do? Once you have determined what you want to do, ask others for help. Use resources available at WSU. You’ll be surprised where your interest can take you.
Hidden treasure – you see it in movies; you find it in real life. Once you find it, you will never be the same.
Robert Megerdichian is owner of Robert Megerdichian & Associates in Cambridge, a firm that produces as-built drawings of existing structures, and Gloves Redone, a business that restores baseball gloves. He is currently enrolled in the Master of Science in Nonprofit Management program at Worcester State University.