Objects Lost and Found At Grand Central Over The Past 100 Years

Fascinating Museum Of Memories Collection Displayed At Grand Central Terminal’s Transit Museum Annex

Grand Central exhibit case This year marks the 100th anniversary of the current Grand Central Terminal.  Jane Greengold is one of a dozen contemporary artists taking part in an exhibition, On Time /Grand Central at 100. Her work is an installation of objects that have been lost and then found over the past 100 years by one family of conductors who worked on various train lines at Grand Central.

Greengold describes how the project came together:

“When I started working on a piece for the Centennial of Grand Central Terminal, I walked around the Terminal for days, looking for inspiration. I was lucky to meet a conductor, Joe Wenham, willing to chat. He told me his father, grandmother, and great-grandfather had all been conductors, Grand Central exhibit explanationstarting before 1913. I said his family itself could illustrate the history of the Terminal and he told me that his great-grandfather had begun a family tradition of retrieving items he had brought to the Lost and Found and that had not been reclaimed, even buying items valuable enough to be sold. He began on a whim, but then decided to create a personal museum of memories of his passengers. The family has kept this up for 100 years.

They did not usually keep the kinds of objects most often lost — umbrellas, gloves, hats, glasses – but kept things that happened to strike their fancy. Neither Joe nor his father has been as enthusiastic about collecting as the first two generations, but they didn’t stop. So instead of creating a work for the Centennial, I persuaded Joe to share some of the family collection, and together we chose the objects presented here.”

This is the sort of thing that will bring a smile to your face if you go see it in person. I love the fact that the Wenham family contemporarily tagged each item with where and when the object was found, along with their astute and sometimes witty observations. Below is a sample of objects from the collection.

The photograph caption recaps what is on the tag: the date and train the object was found on and a remark from the Wenham who found it. You can click on any picture to enlarge.

May 20, 1920 Twentieth Century Limited "I saw the man pace up and down again and again, looking at the box worrying it (sic). I could not believe he lost it. Why didn't he claim it? Was the marriage over?"

May 20, 1920 – Twentieth Century Limited
“I saw the man pace up and down again and again, looking at the box worrying it (sic). I could not believe he lost it. Why didn’t he claim it? Was the marriage over?”

June 25, 1924 Special "These were the happiest bettors I ever saw"

June 25, 1924 – Special
“These were the happiest bettors I ever saw”

February 13, 1931 - 20th Century Limited "I never saw anyone wearing this. I don't even know if it is a man or a woman."

February 13, 1931 – 20th Century Limited
“I never saw anyone wearing this. I don’t even know if it was a man or a woman.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 5, 1945 - Pacemaker "There are hundreds of these. But I never saw anyone smoke this much"

May 5, 1945 – Pacemaker
“There are hundreds of these. But I never saw anyone smoke this much”

 

 

 

February 27, 1946 -  "I'd be so sad if I lost my babies photos."

February 27, 1946 – Pacemaker
“I’d be so sad if I lost my babies photos.”

October 3, 1946 - Pacemaker "Girls! were playing with cars! Maybe they'll be race car drivers! It's a German car!"

October 3, 1946 – Pacemaker
“Girls! were playing with cars! Maybe they’ll be race car drivers! It’s a German car!”

 

 

 

 

March 3, 1947 - Empire State "The woman was as round as the bottle"

March 3, 1947 – Empire State
“The woman was as round as the bottle”

September 17, 1958 - 20th Century Limited "Boring travel diary of a spoiled 13 year old. Went to Europe on Queen Mary, lost diary on a fancy train. Must be a brat."

September 17, 1958 – 20th Century Limited
“Boring travel diary of a spoiled 13 year old. Went to Europe on Queen Mary, lost diary on a fancy train. Must be a brat.”

 

 

 

November 28, 1963 - Empire State "I talked to the

November 28, 1963 – Empire State
“I talked to the boy who had this. He’d planned to go to the game but then went home for comfort after the assassination. Wasn’t sure he’d go to the game now. I guess he didn’t.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Time /Grand Central at 100 is on view at the New York Transit Museum Gallery Annex & Store at Grand Central until July 7, 2013.

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