Monday, January 17, 2011

Reclaiming The Past ...

I wasn't sure if I should leave the house.

The weather was threatening both rain and snow. "ICY" read the weather graphic. Icy. No, thank you. I had occasion to drive on an iced-over surface last year and the ensuing damage to a part of my car I couldn't even see cost me a few hundred bucks to fix.

But the weather wasn't due to arrive just yet, and I had been puttering about the house for the past couple hours, moving things here and there, deciding that I couldn't possibly live with the throw pillow on the chair in the corner of the dining room another day. Ir's too cute. I'm done with cute. Not all things cute, but that pillow? Its time had come. Sayonara, pillow. Nice knowing you. Thanks for all your pillowy existence, but your number's up.

I also decided that I wanted to put a chair next to the little chest of drawers in the entryway, but I didn't like the chair I put there. No, I would need a new chair.

And a lamp. Possibly two lamps. And a lampshade. For a third lamp.

So, off I went.

I don't have to tell you that I bought none of those things. But then, I didn't want to travel too far from home.

First stop on the outing: Goodwill. Not to drop anything off, as I'd intended, but to see if there might be a suitable chair or lamp lurking about for a steal.

Nope and nope.

But as long as I was there, I took a quick gander at the books and then a stroll past the glassware. I'm always on the hunt for a certain glass of which my mom wants more. That particular glass was nowhere to be found, but I'm always amenable to interesting glasses that I can use as votive holders.

I found a couple that reminded me of these. And I found a couple that were ribbed. And one that was footed and one that was wee. And one that was straight-sided and modern for its age. Seven in all.

So I stacked what ones I could and cradled all of them in my arms and went to pay, having no idea what they cost. I hadn't noticed a sign. None of them were marked. But being Goodwill, I figured, what, $1 each?

The woman at the register counted them, punched a few keys, and announced the total: $1.87.

For all of them. Together. Or $0.25 each, plus a few cents for tax.

(I love the blog The Thrifty Chicks and always envy Ms. Golightly's finds. I've yet to see the kinds of goods that end up in the thrift stores she frequents in Denver, but I know she'd be pleased with my votive stash for $1.87.)

I brought them home and washed them and dried them and put tealights in them (and made a mental note to buy clear-cupped tealights) and arranged them on my mantle for a photo (or three).

I love the way the broad-ribbbed glass casts the light into a sunburst.

After a quick detour to the wine store (Angelo had recommended Layer Cake Shiraz to me, and I will now recommend Layer Cake Shiraz to you), I headed for an antique mall that always holds some surprises. Sometimes the surprises appear in the form of something cool: hinged Cadbury multiple chocolate-bunny mold for $295, anyone? Truly, it would make a really great piece of art, open and hung on a wall. And sometimes the surprises, more often than not, appear in the form of crap, which is why one friend once dubbed it "The Junk Store."

I made quick rounds, keeping an eye out for a suitable chair or lamp. I found neither. What I did find, however, was a silver baby cup. Engraved. For someone named Paul David. I picked it up. I set it down. I have no need for a silver baby cup.

But I couldn't bear to leave it there. Why didn't Paul or someone in Paul's family still have it? Didn't Paul have any family? Were his belongings sold off? Had he died?

I thought about my mother and her family photographs. She has told me on more than one occasion that I am not, under any circumstance, to allow her family photographs to end up in an antique store. She'd rather they be burned than suffer such a fate.

(My friend Jeff created a site dedicated to such photographs. It's nice that they continue to be appreciated.)

So I bought the baby cup. I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it was $5 well spent.

I had also spied something else in the store that I didn't buy. "Perhaps another day," I told myself. But my mind wouldn't let it go, even once I began to drive away. So I circled the block, returned to the vacant parking spot, went back to the store and up the stairs and retrieved it.

The woman who'd written up the baby cup smiled when she saw me again. "Find something else?" she asked.

"I can't leave this here," I said.

Not someone's high school diploma. From 1921.

It's quite big. It's very beautiful, its illustrations and typography. The frame is simple but sturdy. And as with Paul, I wonder about Arthur's story. How did his diploma from 1921 end up in an antique store in 2011?

Whatever the answer, it's here with me now.


Blogger Tom Erdman said...

I was in both a Goodwill and St. Vincent DePaul last week buying books. I bought lots, not to read, but for photography. The ladies checking me out were very impressed with my reading prowess.

I didn't have the heart to tell them they probably would never be read. But, I never wandered through either store before. It was really interesting. I'll do it again.

9:26 PM  
Blogger Sheila said...

Love this post. Chuckling at the antique significance of it all. In our old place the guest bathroom was filled with antique photos of children. Probably the photos ranged from 60-80 years old. My poor Mother-in-law hated each and every one of them, believing each child looked abused. I never saw that myself and after she said that I kind of had to keep them up. In short, I get it. And love the votive holder idea. Would be great for an upcoming dinner party I am planning in my head. For March. Date TBD, but hope you will be there.

9:37 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

I love the story about the photos.

And I would be most pleased to be at your dinner party. You can't beat a centerpiece for $1.87!

9:41 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Tom, do you take plates out of books and frame them? Or do you just look at the pictures?

9:55 PM  
Blogger Tom Erdman said...

Plates in the books? How could I have missed that? Pictures are always nice (I partially stole that from Bull Durham).

3:48 PM  

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