I’m not one to deny my guilt in all of the modern world’s most superficial pleasures: the minimal effort of “happy birthday” on a friend’s Facebook page, the impatience at the 90 seconds it takes to microwave a Hot Pocket, the occasional text snuck under a restaurant table, etc. What can I say? I’m a 21st Century girl.
Why then, I’m sure you are wondering, would a thoroughly modern young lady volunteer herself to the sandstone house at 1340 Pennsylvania Street? Perhaps I inquired into this opportunity because the interests which drove Margaret Brown also resonate with me. I do have a love of foreign languages, animal welfare, and women’s equality. But I believe I came here because Mrs. Brown, in all of the aforementioned aspects, was better than me. Okay, perhaps not fundamentally better; but she was definitely more active and motivated. While she dedicated herself to the study of five foreign languages, I decide reviewing my Mandarin studies is nowhere nearly as important as finishing my latest Netflix binge. I could log hours at the animal shelter today, or I could spend the next two hours scrolling through my Facebook feed. Either way, my volunteering efforts haven’t equaled Margaret Brown’s part in creating the first non-kill animal shelter in Denver. Perhaps my volunteer work with the Molly Brown House Museum was not simply to improve my education in curation, tutelage, and preservation. Perhaps I also seek a boost of character, with the invisible and lasting presence of Margaret Brown as my mentor. If a woman could accomplish goals across so many diverse causes, without the modern speed of technology or even the right to vote, then I have no excuse to be passive.
This was day one for me. Already, I not only felt the urge to admire this woman for everything she’d accomplished, but I had a slightly-competitive instinct to become like her myself. If I push myself to be more motivated and passionate in my everyday life – if I could learn those Chinese lessons or log those hours at the animal shelter – then I could even become the 21st Century’s own “Molly” Brown. Furthermore, my chief duty here is to share this empowering legacy with those I guide and inspire in her name. No, I am definitely not well-versed enough to lead my own tour yet.
But I am itching for the day when I am ready to start doing so. I want to ignite in others, adults and children alike, the philanthropic and social spirit Margaret Brown encompassed. I can only hope that by the end of the summer, those whom I’ve led through Mrs. Brown’s house will reflect upon me and think, “Wow
, she really is a motivated, energetic, and enlightened young woman.”
So for the meantime, I’ll shut off the Netflix, promise to only text my mom, give Facebook a rest. Now, I have a goal in mind. Not only keep “Molly” Brown’s story alive, but her character as well. Thanks for reading, and I look forward to your future visits!
Allison Head, Tulane University
Summer Volunteer at the Molly Brown House Museum