Some things retain value long after their usefulness is part of history.
Pen knives are a case in point. No one, save the occasional Colonial era re-enactor, uses bird quills as writing implements, yet pen knives, the pocket-sized folding blades that made it possible to turn feathers in to pens, are as popular as ever. It's likely there are more homes that own a pen knife or two than homes that don't. They're not necessarily all that useful, but they have a practical appeal.
Same goes for gourds. In a time when it sometimes seems we'll be overrun by plastic bottles, it's hard to envision a time when the hollowed out cousin of a pumpkin would be indispensable as a tool for carrying and storing liquids.
Gourds have made a contribution to civilization, but they've been replaced by decidedly better technology. Still, they have their devotees, as evidenced by a three-day celebration of the gourd coming next weekend, April 26-28, to the campus of Harford Community College.
It's the Maryland Gourd Festival, and it's the event that highlights an inedible vegetable that can be used to make such objects as birdhouses, decorative bowls and vases, or even musical instruments. How useful they are is really in the eye of the beholder, but certainly, like pen knives, gourds have an appeal that goes beyond utility.
Not everything that becomes as useless as a buggy whip goes the way of the buggy whip.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun