Sunday, August 16, 2009

Second-hand treasures

I love poking through second-hand stores to find bits and pieces of the past. On my road trip last week I found so many interesting things, most of which I could not bring home. However, with the magic of cell phone cameras I was able to bring home the memories.

One of my usual stops in VT is a "recycling" store that carries everything. They carry a variety of used furniture so the incoming college students stop there first, for everything from beds to chairs and wall hangings. Or you can find art supplies such as leftover acrylic paints, or fabric samples from a furniture showroom. They have an extensive record selection and mixed dishware. This weekend they had two player pianos in slight disrepair, and a few small electric organs. Standing near the spare vacuum cleaner hoses was this beautyshop hair dryer, although it's one of those items that only the right person is going to take home.

The next store I visited had enough stuffed inside four walls to fill a small gymnasium. Their pigeon-holed shelves had trinkets from every era; brass from the far East, porcelain figurines, Pyrex and FireKing cookware, apple-peeler/corers, and toasters. Deep inside the store was a rack with clothes including a wetsuit, in case you need one. In one small space was a magazine rack with sheet music. Near that were the books where I picked up an old copy of The Lincoln Reader for my fall-into-winter reading. I also found the shelf where they stored old newspapers, and chose two from 1940 (since I am fascinated by the WWII era) and two from 1963, including the November 23rd copy with headline stating "President Assinated". Amongst my purchases was also a 1974 issue of Time magazine with President Ford's picture and the caption "The Healing Begins", the issue being devoted to the conclusion of the Nixon presidency and renewed hopefulness under President Ford. I passed on two newspapers from 1888 (Yes, 1888!) because they were rolled and so badly stored that they disintegrated into little flaky pieces when touched.

I couldn't get a clear photo from my cellphone camera of this collection hanging from the ceiling, but the large item in the middle is the flour bin from a Hoosier, complete with sifter. In the hour that I was there, I only saw a small portion of the contents. Without air conditioning on a hot, hot day, it became too uncomfortable to linger.

I enjoy glances into the past, perhaps because in the last 100 years we have made such leaps, or progress, through the industrial revolution and technological breakthroughs. In the time before answering machines, we were blissfully unaware if someone was trying to reach us. Now they interrupt us while dining out, wanting to chat about nothing. We have gone from locomotives to the space station. We shopped at small independent groceries back then, now we can enter our order on a website and have it delivered from a computerized warehouse.

However "convenient" life is now, I remember people being more content back then. They may not have had power windows and remote car starters (or even had a car...), but they were happy with what they did have.

I looked at the apple corer and thought of the pies that gadget has made.....


Mug said...

I can spend HoUrS in thrift shops and second-hand stores! My husband says, "No more STUFF!", but oh, what fun!

We as a nation and as families need more of the good ol' ways and 'stuff'...and less of modern conveniences. My 25 year old daughter was surprised the other night to hear that in the rural Alabama countryside where i grew up, we actually had a party line:)...and we had to "share" phone time with another family...It brought back fun memories remembering that!

Green Bean said...

I too love thrift stores, antique stores, estate sales and such. They provide such a wonderful glimpse into our life, as a culture, years ago.

MyStory of HiStory said...

What an amazing collection of history there! Hmmm ... since they don't make things like they used to ( you know how many skillets & vacuums I've gone thru since we've been married?!) I wonder what second had shops might contain a generation from now....probably not much from here & now - they'll be out of business - or they'll still have lots of stuff from from previous ones :)

I love the memories that places like this conjur up too...things I tho't I forgot :)

The 4 Bushel Farmgal said...

Hi Mug,
Isn't it great to surprise our children with these memories?

Hi Green Bean,
I haven't been to an estate sale in ages! Getting a look into someone's life can be humbling, to see how they lived and what they loved.

Hi MyStory,
Do you think the Bratz dolls will eventually rank up there with the original Barbies? :)
Or will we be finding all those infomercial slicers and juicers?