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looks were a special pleasure when I was a boy. When my parents dragged me along on a visit, I liked nothing better than to sneak away from the boring, old grownups to a find a quiet room full of unexplored books. One rainy day, at the home of my uncle, I came across a curious set of three slim volumes in a box. I took out a book and studied the cover.. .Our Vanishing Landscape by Eric Sloanc. Inside I found fascinating pen-and-ink drawings that told stories about the past. Not dry, stuffy talcs about campaigns and politics, but tangible facts about everyday life—the tools, the villages, the barns and the bridges of a vanished America. I was hooked. This man had the power to bring the past back to life.

I promptly adopted Eric Sloane as my teacher, my mentor, my hero.

His books solved the riddles that puzzled my 12-year-old mind. From him I learned why stone walls run through dense woods, how wood expands and contracts, how snow was once packed down with rollers to make sleigh travel easier.

Eric Sloane's hold on me as a youth was no accident. Me knew how to fan the flames of a young persons curiosity. Sloane wrote, "When I show my [antique] collection to young people, I am very careful to avoid saying. 'See how old these things are.' Instead I say, 'See how carefully and beautifully people created things in those days. How aware these people were of the kinds of materials they worked with. How aware they were of the time in which they lived; everything is dated and signed. How richly awake they must have been to every moment of each day!'"

Eric Sloanc was born Everard Hinrichs in New York City in 1905. In the mid-1920s, Sloane hit the road as a traveling sign painter, sketching the countryside as he went. Planning his routes through the smallest villages. Sloanc set up his "studio" in a "cabin camp" (the motel of the day), and painted posters and signs for the community. "Mv introduction to bam lore began in the Lancaster [Pennsylvania] area: the pen sketches I did there resulted in a reverence for old farm buildings and the wish to learn more about them. But there wasn't a single volume written about the subject. and so I resorted to my "learning by writing" theory by doing a first book about the Early-American barn [American Bams and Covered Bridges, 1954]. I have always said, tongue-in-cheek,

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