Just Passing Through!

Sometimes when I go to an estate sale I will notice that the resident of the abode has kept certain things in the same place for a very long time. This may be evident when I pick something up to look at it and notice a clean spot in the dust where the object sat. That’s kind of like my antique booth when nothing is selling! LOL!

One very vivid example of this hit me one day when I went to the second day of an estate sale in a home built in the 1950s and occupied by the same family since then. When I went into the living room the first thing I noticed was the sculpted wall-to-wall orange carpet. Upon closer examination, the striking thing about the color was that there were rectangular and square patterns on the carpet that were of a sharply brighter orange color. These shapes were left by the furniture that once occupied the space. And had protected the carpets original color from being washed out by the sun. The shapes were sharp and crisp and I knew that the very same piece of furniture had rested in that spot, without moving, without replacement, since the 1950s when the home was new. The furniture had all been sold, but I could picture it in my mind.

To me, more so since I’ve started this antique business, things, that is objects, have become much more transient. I used to buy or otherwise acquire things for myself. To own. To point to as mine. Even if they were locked away out of sight.

Now I see things, and people, as transiting through the world on their own journeys, stopping by wherever I am to linger for a while. Sometimes a brief moment. Other times, for a longer time.

Very rarely do I buy something just for me. That doesn’t include things like food or essentials like underwear and toothpaste. I’m talking about objects for display, or utility, that I enjoy for their own sake. Things like glass objects, paintings and sculpture, jewelry, furniture of a certain style. Stuff I like because of how it looks, or works, or what images it calls up in my mind. Mid century modern evokes images of childhood. Ship models send me to visions of life on the high seas as Horatio Hornblower. Other things have other impact, but you get the idea.

I gather these things and hold them for a while to enjoy. And then I pass them along to someone else. Some things I buy just to resell, and enjoy while it’s in my store. Some things I will keep around for a while as an example of something. Until a better example comes along. And some things I will always keep, because of their beauty, but mainly because of their sentimentality. My kids will probably have one hell of an estate sale when I go!

And I find the same thing happening with people. They come and go. Sometimes staying for a long time as a good friend. Or bursting on to the scene, making a big splash, and vanishing. Nonetheless leaving quite an impression. The leaving used to bother me. But now I see it as each encounter has its reason and value. And when its mission is accomplished, it ends. Perhaps to be reborn later.

People aren’t like things, but they all come and go. And leave their mark.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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It was intended as a sign of respect. A nod to the fact that I am mature. Perhaps he even referred to his own beloved father in that manner. And of course, the description does fit. Depending on how you look at it. And me. He called me Pops.

For dinner we went to my favorite pizza place. The guy taking our order was young enough to be my kid. He was in his twenties I’d say. And I do have two children of my own. Grown children.

To him my wife was Ma’am, my daughter was Miss, and I was Pops. To tell the truth, I didn’t really hear what he called me. Hearing loss form a lifetime of a loud world. My wife said it was Pops. I remember that my father called his father “Pop.” So Pop is OK. But Pops?

Oh hell, he called me an old man. Whippersnapper! In our youth we try to look older. And as we get older we try to look young. Teens with cigarettes. Bald men with toupees.

I have been blessed with good genes. I have my own hair. Even if it is turning a little gray. And my face looks at least ten years, maybe fifteen, younger than I am. Always had that baby face.

Dean Martin plays on my radio, but so does a lot of contemporary music. I keep up with it to some extent. Because I enjoy it. I can speak some of the “hip” lingo without sounding like an idiot. Gosh, my daughter tells me her friends think I’m a cool hipster. Must be my eyeglasses.

But it hit me one day last week that I’m not as young as I used to be. I was in the bathroom, pondering old men’s plumbing issues and I said to myself something like Damn! You’re not forty anymore!!!

And now, Pops! Good Lord. Next thing you know I’m gonna be sitting on the porch, in my rocker, wearing a pair of pants with its waist at my armpits. Held up by suspenders. And my teeth in a glass on the table next to me. Just like that. Overnight.

Maybe my hair has stayed put and my face has looked young because I was too stubborn to recognize that I was getting older. Now, with my eyes cracked open to that fact, it’s all gonna collapse. Tomorrow I’ll wake up and my pillow will be covered with hair. And my head will be bald!

Getting old comes with its ups and downs. Can’t stop the aging process. Yet. So I might as well enjoy it. I’m still gonna do my thang the way I do it and enjoy the ride.

But I might not go back to that restaurant!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?   www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Gassed Up Adventure!

A full tank of gas promises unlimited adventure. An empty tank promises another kind of adventure. A kind that is more like orienteering your way through an alligator infested swamp than meandering through museums in Manhattan.

The gas gauge on my scooter isn’t always real accurate. Much like the speedometer. To know how much fuel I have takes a little bit of mental math. How many trips have I made since I filled up, and how long were they? It’s generally not too hard and I pretty much know how to interpret the gauge. And how far I can push my luck. If I open the cap of the tank and look in only to see that it’s bone dry, I put gas in it. On the other hand, if I can see even a drop I know I’m good for a few miles. Hadn’t thought about it much until the other day.

It was Tuesday and my regular day to go to my antique shop. Nice day, I’ll take the scooter. I looked at the gauge and it read full. I knew I’d made a trip or two. Short ones. I wasn’t worried. In a rush to get there I rode with the throttle wide open all the way. Burning fuel like there was no tomorrow. It was one of those rides where I pretend I’m riding a space ship.

Driving along I watched as the fuel gauge moved. Fast, and a lot. Dang. How far had those two trips been? Oh. Two round trips to work. Gulp.

By the time I got to the shop the gauge was looking like a quarter tank. That will get me home. It better. There are no gas stations between here and there. I poked around at the shop and finally got ready to ride home. I looked into the tank. A drop was visible. But I couldn’t remember going this far on that drop before.

All the way I took my time. A leisurely ride, more like a slow boat to China. You get a different feel for the road at a slower speed. And you can spend more time looking around at the scenery. I seemed to be the only one on the road so going slow was ok.

The gauge dropped into the red zone when I was still about ten miles out. This is where I knew I could go five miles. But what about ten? The traffic was picking up. I was having visions of running out of gas and having to push the bike to the house or a gas station. Even worse, I had visions of running out of gas and getting run over by a car as the scooter came to a sudden dead stop. Pushing was a better vision, but not up hill.

Finally I arrived at an intersection with two gas stations. Getting to one required a left turn across a busy intersection. The other was on my right. If I ran out of gas in the intersection making the left turn it could get messy. I took the chance and rolled into the station and up to a pump. When I opened the cap of the tank, yeah, right, bone dry.

Gassed up and ready to roll I was off on a new adventure. The rocket ride! That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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The Missed Call


Some people wait all their lives for the big call. Sometimes it comes, sometimes it doesn’t.  For me, the real issue isn’t so much what you do when you get the call, it’s what you do while you’re waiting for it.  You can’t get that time back. 

I’ve seen talented kids move from school to school looking for a better team to play on to enhance their athletic resume. Only problem is that better teams have better players and this talented, mobile kid is on the best team, warming the bench. The call never comes.  Could have been a star on a lesser team.

Last spring I met someone who years ago was hailed as a very talented and promising poet. Big time in the poetry world. Acclaim caused an internal meltdown as she waited in bed for the next great poem to flow from her fingers. The call never came.

How many people have you ever seen who work hard and boast of all the trappings of success.  The houses, cars, club memberships, fame, and fortune. Waiting for a call offering the next accolade. Maybe it comes. And all the while the family waits on hold. A missed call.

Yesterday I had my phone silenced because I was at work in the hospital. I forgot to turn it back on when I went home. While I wasn’t paying attention I missed a call. This one from the antique shop. I wait anxiously for these calls every day. Someone wants to buy something big. But doesn’t like the price. Let’s haggle. What a thrill!

I missed the call but called right back. They wanted some stained glass windows, but wanted a discount. Could I do that? I was excited because I’d like to move these big ticket items. I’d do what they asked. But, they had just left. Couldn’t wait. On their way home to another state. Didn’t want to ship them later.

Missed call. Missed sale. Damn! That sale would have put me on easy street for this month. Damn!

What was my real reaction? There will be another buyer. A buyer who will be happy to pay the full price. Or a price that didn’t require a call to me.

Missed call. Missed sale. Yeah, but tomorrow is another day. Another sale. Another call.  If it’s that important they’ll call back!  In the mean time, keep on rockin!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? Www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Labor Day

They say Labor Day is the end of summer. The last hurrah before the chill of winter settles in. The last cookout of hot dogs and hamburgers. Last chance for ice cream cones. No more days at the beach. And the last day off from work until Thanksgiving!

But of course it’s not really as bad as all that. Oh sure, by Labor Day almost all of the kids have gone back to school. Some have been back in school since early August. So traveling is much harder and summer vacation is behind us. But by the calendar we still have several weeks of summer left.

In my neck of the woods it’s so damn hot you’d think we’d barely hit the Fourth of July. We’ll be able to swim in the lake or at the beach into November most likely. And of course we’ll be tailgating and cooking out into December!

Neighbors to the north, and you don’t have to go very far north, will soon be seeing frost on their pumpkins. And Halloween will be here before you know it. But that’s another story, as is the real meaning of Labor Day.

For now, I’ll just enjoy my holiday boat ride. Wearing my bathing suit and sweating my tail off in the mid nineties heat. I’m always up for a boat ride! Good thing the boat goes fast. Cool breeze!

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Stop the Drooling!!!

So you think the title says it all? Sounds pretty disgusting and certainly paints an ugly picture. But wait, before you turn the page, let me explain something. Maybe you’ll feel a little better.

One of the things that I like most in the world is “pretty.” From disgusting to pretty, just like that. Read on.

What I look for in the world is beauty. Could be a pretty girl, or a beautiful spirit. Put them together and ooh-la-la! C’est tres bon!

When I go to yard sales I see many things, but am always attracted to “pretty.” Could be a piece of colored glass. Or a piece of furniture with sleek lines. Or what I saw that made me drool.

It was shiny, and colorful, and old and one of the things I love to look at. One of the things I would love to own, but can’t really afford. But I look so I’ll know when I see a good one. And this was it. I just knew it.

I’m not big on looking at most jewelry, but this was different. This was Native American sterling and turquoise. It was old. And it was gorgeous. A big old squash blossom necklace. And next to it was another sterling necklace with delicate beads and tubes, and huge shingles of silver with shadow boxed turquoise. Magnificent. The kind of stuff you only see in jewelry stores and museums. I just knew it…

I asked about the price and damn, I WAS right. Way out of my range. I passed on it, but not by choice.

And that’s when the drooling started. The rest of the day I couldn’t get it out of my head. So I went back. I wasn’t sure to what purpose. The price would be the same. It would be torture to look at and not be able to have. But I had to have another look. It was just so unusual to see something like this at a yard sale!!! Learning experience if nothing else. And maybe that would stop the drooling.

It was still there when I returned. Talking to the owner a little more I kept thinking of some way of justifying a second mortgage to buy this thing. And then all of a sudden the price began to drop. I told her I couldn’t afford it and just wanted to look. She saw the sparkle in my eyes I guess.

After more conversation the price dropped to a point where it would be a reach, but I could do it. I’d have to resell one to keep the other.

It was an awesome piece. I wouldn’t sell my soul for it, but I would dig deep into my bank account. After double-checking how much money was actually in that account, I made a final offer. The deal was done.

Turns out I was funding two people’s dreams. Mine of collecting a real treasure, and another person’s of hitting the road to make it in the big time. I felt good doing that because I wish someone had funded my own dreams years and years ago.

It wasn’t that expensive. I had the money. A win-win situation. That’s the kind of deal I’ll make anytime. Such a beautiful thing.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?


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Beach Music

My dad had this to say about his 50th high school reunion: it was full of a lot of old people.  He didn’t consider himself to be old. Just the others. His contemporaries. And I’m sure he’d feel the same today at his 70th gathering. When I went to the concert featuring a band popular in the 60s and 70s, I felt the same way. The audience was a bunch of old folks. With a young whippersnapper, me, in the middle of it all.

The band was The Tams. I don’t know how famous they might be globally, but in these parts they have a following almost as dedicated as those fanatical Deadheads. My wife is a big fan and spent many of her college aged evenings in the presence of the band.

The Tams play what we call Carolina beach music. And the audience is supposed to shag to the music. That’s a dance. In case you weren’t sure what shagging is. In these parts.

The Tams can best be described as a group of men who sing and do synchronized dance steps while being supported by a group of men who play instruments. Drums, guitars, horns, rhythm and of course a bass fiddle.

The opening act was just the band. One of them even sang. All the while the audience was busy setting up lawn chairs, eating barbeque, and hitting beach balls into the air.

And then came The Tams. They were all wearing white suits and white tam-o’-shanters. Thus the name I suppose. In spite of Mick Jagger still prancing around the stage at his age, it turns out that the music business is really a young mans game with the fast pace of the music and the synchronized dancing. What I noticed about this group, and they weren’t trying to hide it, was that they were really the sons of the original Tams. Those dudes would be nearly 75 now.

Throughout the show I kept expecting James Brown, The Godfather of Soul, to leap out onto the stage and I’ll b damned if he didn’t come out when the Tams sang an inspired version of I Feel Good. They also sang Shout, like we heard in the movie Animal House. They did the Love Train while they swayed through the audience with a line of enthused dancers. And for the oldsters among us, they sang Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy.

And all the while, all the old peeps were having a lot of fun. Around 9:30 I noticed a serious reduction in the crowd. Past their bedtime? Or were they off to another party? I don’t know, but the next time The Tams come to town, I’ll Be There. I’ll Be Around.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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