My Aunt and Uncle are proud small business owners of a home improvement store and lumber yard called Kane Lumber in the town of Kane, Pennsylvania. Kane is the place where my mother grew up and where all of my extended family on my mother’s side remains today. I often find myself thinking of Kane with the nostalgia and sentimentality of home despite having grown up in the suburbs of Baltimore, Maryland. In the summer weeks that I would spend with my Grandma, I would often find myself wandering to Kane Lumber. As a kid Kane was the perfect place to be. Everything important: my cousins house, the park, Rite Aid, Main Street, Kane Lumber was within walking distance from my Grandma’s house on Birch Street. The town only covers one and a half square miles, is home to about 3,600 people, and is nestled on three sides by the Allegheny National Forest.
Kane Lumber was built on top of the old milk bottle factory, and to this day if you walk around the lumber yard you can find old pieces of glass. What made it even more magical was that the glass had mysteriously turned purple. A quick Google search will tell you that colorless glasses with manganese dioxide tend to turn purple with exposure to light. However, as a kid those milk bottles had turned purple because they had never contained milk at all and instead held potions. Or back in olden times their cows were purple and of course gave purple milk that stained the glasses. Or the grown ups were lying and there actually was an amethyst mine under the two by fours and we were all going to be rich. I spent many days perfectly content digging around searching for these worthless chunks of glass. I keep them now not only because they are beautiful objects, but they are also a reminder of the past and present. My childhood when my Grandma was still alive and I would walk from her house to go find buried treasure. Kane’s past as I wonder what life was like when the town had a milk bottle factory and dozens of other places that have since disappeared into history. But also my Aunt and Uncle who are still running their family business with love as my baby cousins run around looking for purple buried treasure.
Rhode Island School of Design