“He would not tease me if he didn’t like me!” by Johanna Brown

Frank L. Horton, 1989

Not long after I started working at Old Salem, the collections offices moved from the Single Brothers’ House to MESDA and I was given an office on “the MESDA hall.”  As a young professional, I was in awe of Frank and eager to please.  He was always very helpful when I had questions, but seemed to take things quite seriously…

Every day Frank would shuffle down the hall to the kitchen for coffee in the morning and again in the afternoon for a bottled coke.  He never stopped to chat unless he had something important to tell me about an object or a collections record.  One day, out of the blue, he stopped in my doorway, frowned deeply, shook his head, and said, “I can’t believe you did that!”

I searched my mind frantically trying to figure out what I could possibly have done to cause this negative reaction AND a rare visit to my office.
I responded lamely, “I am so sorry!”
He responded, “We’ve been over and over this.  I really am disappointed.”

By this time I was really worried.  I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, but he was clearly angry with me about something.  Again I apologized.  Again he chastised.  Suddenly, his face broke into a huge grin; he chuckled, lowered his voice to a loud whisper and said “GOTCHA!!”  Then he calmly turned and shuffled back to his desk in the research center without another word.

It was later that day when I recounted this episode to Brad Rauschenberg that Brad assured me that I had clearly earned Frank’s regard for he would not have teased me if he didn’t like me!  That made my day and makes me smile wistfully even today!

Johanna Brown, North Carolina
Curator of Moravian Decorative Arts
Director of Collections
Old Salem Museums & Gardens


Celebrating Frank L. Horton’s 100th Birthday