In the antique business everyone knows what a picker is. A person who goes around scrounging through piles of stuff in crowded barns and backyards and basements looking for valuable treasures. They are looking for that thing that you, or Aunt Jane of Grandma put in the barn or attic twenty or fifty years ago, and forgot about. That thing that is now worth a bunch of money. And they buy it from you for, well, less that what they will sell it for. Nature of the business.

But, a lot of other people know pickers as Mike and Frank, the two dudes from Iowa who go around the country picking. And their sidekick Danielle, who makes a lot of phone calls and sets things up for them. These guys have a show on television called American Pickers. And that is what the show is all about.

They nearly picked my pockets. Or my treasures to be more exact. I’m not sure who initiates this, them or the local area, but the county where I live put out a notice on Facebook that the Pickers were interested in coming to the area and wanted anyone with valuable items to send an email to the pickers people. To cut the wheat from the chaff they included a list of things they were specifically looking for. And a list of things they did NOT want to see. After looking at the list, I realized that I had quite a bit of stuff they were looking for. Folk art, military items, old advertising items, and a scooter. They love scooters and motorcycles! So I sent an email describing my items. And waited. And waited. And waited. I have good junk!

Finally I got an email from the pickers. No, not Mike, Frank or even Danielle. Not even Mike’s brother. They wanted my phone number so we could talk more about my stuff. Oh man! I might get to be on TV! Wow! I was jumpin for joy!

Well, I waited again. And waited some more. And finally the phone rang. It wasn’t Mike, Frank, or Danielle. Not even Mike’s brother. It wasn’t even anyone from Iowa! It was some dude from New York. TV executive of some sort. Whatever. If I get on TV this dude will be my best friend forever.

He asked me several questions about my collection. He was interested in several aspects of it. But what he was really interested in was how it was gonna look on TV. Not my stuff per se, but how I had my stuff situated. He kept asking me if I was a hoarder.

I live in the suburbs. In a single family dwelling. No barn, no shed, no storage bins in the yard. The house is jammed with all this stuff, but you can maneuver around without having to follow narrow paths cut between stacks of junk piled high. Not a hoarder. A serious, and overzealous collector.

He finally said that it sounded like I had wonderful junk, but that I was much too neat for their show. They want the boys to be climbing, and digging, and shining their flashlights. And getting dusty, dirty and sweaty in locating some incredible thing. The same damn thing I have sitting on the shelf in my house. I told him I’d be happy to junk the place up. But no, it didn’t seem like it was going to work. That had to be the first time in my life that anyone had told me that I was too neat!

Oh well. Wouldn’t be the first time I was “this close” to being on TV. There was the crowd scene for the Today Show, and the last round of eliminations for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. Maybe next time.

Television or not. I know I have some really cool stuff! And I enjoy collecting it. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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The Rule

Following rules has never been my strong suite. Sometimes it’s because I just plain old don’t know, or understand the rules. And my memory isn’t what it once was so sometimes I forget the rules. And, of course, there are other times when I just say the hell with the rules and do what I want. Someone once said rules were made to be broken. I can’t remember who, but they were famous for saying that. And what they meant was that sometimes the rules are wrong and sometimes they get in the way of actually getting anything done. And after the rules got broken, someone else famous said it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission. Can’t remember their name either . Like I said, my memory…

In the yard sale game there is one critical rule. And every time I break it, it bites me in the ass. For some reason, I just don’t always remember it. Even though I repeat it daily. OM, when you see it, pick it up. If you don’t pick it up when you see it, someone else is going to follow the rule and pick it up when they see it. And snatch it right out from under your nose!

I’ve been collecting blue glass lately. Light blue. Big pieces. Mantel sized objects. And today I saw a big bottle, perfect color, nice texture and great size and shape. I pointed it out to my daughter. She picked it up, looked at it, said it was nice…and put it down. I wasn’t watching but the next thing I knew some lady was walking off with the bottle! What the…!!! My daughter and I looked at each other like, I thought you had it! Damn, it got away. Follow the rule!

Later in the day I saw something I liked, but I couldn’t decide if I wanted to pay the second price the seller offered me. It was fair I thought, but did I want to pay that much? I put the thing back on the table, but I kept my hand on it. I knew there were vultures circling, just waiting to snap this thing up. In the end I bought it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been on the other end of someone not following the rule. And I’ve snapped up something that someone else put down. Not my fault if they can’t follow the rules! So I can’t get mad at the other guy. I just have to kick myself in the butt for not following that rule!

The funny thing is that if you follow the rule and buy it when you see it, you may decide later that you don’t really like it. Buyer’s remorse. Or, if you are fortunate enough to go back and find that thing still sitting there later, you may decide that it’s not really what you thought. Or what you wanted. But then again, you might get really lucky, and find that later on, that which your heart desired is still there waiting for you, and still exactly what you wanted.

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

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The Mistress Known as Boat

Owning a boat is like having a mistress- flashy and expensive. Not that I know anything about having a mistress. Other than what I’ve heard. But I have owned a boat…or two.

And like a mistress, the boat takes up a lot of our time. And gives us tremendous pleasure. Pleasure not to be found in something more practical. Like a wife. I meant a car. My mistake.

To many men, boats are like the women in their lives. They love them, pamper them, dote on them and take great pride in them. And more often than not, they give their boat a name. Go to any marina and you will see that on the rump, I mean stern, of every boat there is a name, and port of call.

There are all sorts of names. Whatever strikes the owners fancy. Like racehorse names. There is a lot to be learned about the boat owner from the name he gives his mistress. I mean boat. Boats ranging in size from dinghies to mega yachts have names. Like a member of the family.

Now not everyone gives their boat a name. I had two boats, and neither had an official name. They were sailboats and depending on the strength of the wind they might have names like lightning or breezy, or in calmer air names that I probably shouldn’t repeat here, or anywhere else for that matter. Sailors will know what I mean.

In this case, where I had not given the boat a name, the manufacturer was kind enough to provide one for me. All boats have a manufacture’s name on them somewhere. Like a Chevrolet. And many have a model name. Impala. Or a boat may be a member of a class. With sailboats there are racing classes, each with a name.

The two boats I had were small one design sailing classes. Snipe and Moth. Both small flying things. The Snipe I actually sailed. The Moth I restored.

The Moth came to me as part of a weird sort of trade. I got the boat for free. Then I restored it. When I sold it, I split the money with the former owner. I put a lot into the restoration, and got so much more out of it.

The fiberglass hull needed to be repaired in several places. The whole thing needed new paint. Five coats of maritime hull paint. Then the deck needed to be repaired and painted. Five coats of paint again. The wooden tiller and boom needed to be sanded and stained. Metal parts, brass, aluminum and chrome, all needed to be cleaned and polished. And finally the rigging and lines need to be replaced. The hardest part was getting the length of the forestay correct. So the mast would stand up properly. When it was done, it was beautiful. I took a lot of pictures. But I never put it on the water. Instead, I sold it. A guy from Atlanta bought it and hauled it off to another lake. I said goodbye and never expected to see her again.

A couple of months later I was talking to a friend at work about sailing and she told me her husband had just bought a new boat. A small sailer. A Moth. I looked at her and asked her what color it was. When she described it I knew it was my old boat. It was something I had painted inside the cockpit that gave it away. One day I drove by her house and sure enough, there it was in the back yard. Glad to know she’s in good hands.

My friend found another job and I didn’t see her again for a long time. I knew in the back of my mind that she and her husband had the Moth, but I never thought to ask about it. Then one day I was driving around town, looking at apartment complexes with my daughter, when damn, that looks like the Moth! I doubled back and pulled up alongside a building with a small sailboat in the back yard. Right colors. Right look. And there, the splash rail! The same red I had painted it. Totally out of whack with the rest of the blue and buff color scheme!! My Moth had found another new home. And I had found my Moth.

So what’s the deal here? Is the boat following me? Am I following the boat? Are we forever linked? I don’t know. Maybe it’s just that I’m more aware of a familiar face when I see it. Who knows where she’ll go from here. I just hope she is well loved.

I wanted to stop and talk to the new owner. To tell them that I was the one who did the restoration of their beloved boat. But I didn’t. I just smiled and drove off. Knowing that one day our paths would cross again…

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

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Stealing the Shower!

How many pens do I have?  Oh hell, I don’t have a clue! I pick them up everywhere. Offices, businesses, hotels, restaurants. You name it, I’ll always pick up a pen. Sometimes I feel guilty, like I’m stealing the thing. But the ones I pick up all have some sort of business advertising on them. They are designed to be taken,, Moved around. To spread the word, and fame, of whatever entity has their name inscribed on them. Now a monogrammed pen is a different story!

This weekend I picked up two from the Holiday Inn I stayed in. And I always tale a pad of paper form the room as well. I have to have a place to take notes! Some people are so bold as to take towels and bathrobes from the hotel. But I think most folks would limit themselves to the little bottles of shampoo and conditioner. They are good from travelling.   And if you walk down the hallway while the housekeepers are cleaning rooms you will no doubt seethe cleaning carts filled with dozens of bottles of each.

Two pens, a pad of paper and a bottle of shampoo. Big haul! But what I really wanted to take home from the hotel was… You’ll never guess. Oh wait, the title. Yes, I wanted to take the shower!

It was a little too big to fit into my suitcase. And it would have made a mess ripping the thing out of the wall and pulling out the floor drains. Why in the world would I even think of this you might ask.   The thing is, I’ve been in places where there was no water or bathing, and places where the water wasn’t just cold, it was ice cold! So, when I find a place with nice hot water, and good water pressure, I like to take a long hot shower!

The hotel had a nice big shower stall. All glass and tile and plenty of room to move around. And there was one of those rain style shower heads. Turning it on, the water warmed up quickly. And there was plenty of it coming out! Oh so nice!

My parents had a shower in their house that was anything but luxurious. For nearly forty years I had to put up with this thing whenever I visited. Pink tile. A little tiny shower head. And the hot water only lasted t=for about a minute, then quickly turned cold. And I do mean cold! And worst of all, the water pressure had the water gushing out just like the drip of the Chinese water torture! It was agonizing. Every time. Forty years! They moved now so the shower I get to use at their new place is better.

But I have to give Holiday Inn kudos for their shower. At least in this room. On this morning. Maybe it was a fluke. But for one showers worth, I enjoyed the heck out of it!

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

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First Ride

As I begin here to describe the warm weather we are experiencing locally, the forecast on the news is that we’re going to have a cold snap. I almost felt guilty describing the warm weather knowing that my fellow citizens north of here are deep into a blizzard. The cold snap will make up for that!

The last few days it’s been cold in the morning but it’s warmed up nicely into the mid 60s in the afternoon. Pretty damn warm for February, even here in Georgia.   And every day I go outside in the afternoon and I think to myself this would be an awesome day to be riding my scooter! But I can’t ride to work because it’s too cold. For me anyway. Unless I bundle up in so many layers of clothing that I can’t move my body!   But it sure is nice scooter weather in the afternoon.

Other than this upcoming cold snap it’ll be warm enough pretty soon so that I’ll be able to start riding all day long. I’ll be able to ride to work in the morning and ride home in the evening.   This past Sunday the weather was beautiful. The sun was out, casting its warming rays freely and the temperature was in the mid 60s. So I pulled the scooter out of its hibernation, put the battery back in and cleaned that sweet bike up a little bit. I put on my scooter riding outfit and I hit the road for the years first ride. It was glorious!

The wind created by zipping along the highways made it feel a little cool, but it felt good. It felt like the freedom I remembered. The freedom I always feel when I’m riding.   I knew I had chosen a good day because I saw other people riding their own bikes. And they all seemed to be happy. Glad to have the warm weather. And we all waved the bikers secret wave as we passed each other and acknowledged the fact that while we all ride different machines, we all love to ride.

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

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Escape from Physics

The sign on the side of the road said, “the dormancy ends in four days.” When I say the side of the road what I mean is the grassy space between the road and the parking lot of the garden center. Of course the true subject of the sign was the dormancy of the plants and grass and trees that had been in hibernation all winter. In four days the sap would begin to rise and the living bodies would begin to show signs of life once again. New buds. And leaves. And flowers.

But while my mind was racing, and processing this idea, another thought occurred to me. The dormancy could be referring to the sleeping locusts. Or zombies. Or some horrid plague on the face of the earth. And in four days we would all be wiped out by this impending doom. No, if that were the case I believe there would have been someone wearing a black robe carrying the sign. Must be the plants being referred to.

But what I really didn’t understand until a little bit later was that the dormancy was my own dormancy. I think it’s finally coming to an end. Physicists and astronomers will tell you that a black hole has such a powerful drawing and ingesting quality that once within the consuming grip, nothing can escape. Everything just gets sucked in and stays there, lost forever.

I’ve been in my own personal black hole for several months now. Not an astro physical galactic black hole, but a mental mess. Somehow, at last, I’m beginning to crawl out of the damn thing! I’m beginning to have the energy and the strength to refocus and to get out. I can’t explain to you what caused my stumbling, or more truthfully, I won’t explain, but I’m beginning to get out. I can think again. Concentrate. Enjoy. One of the most telling signs that I’m on my way is that I can once again listen to music. Maybe the music is curing the savage beast. Or maybe the beast is calm enough to listen again.

Each day is a new beginning. Filled with new opportunities. Bringing new adventures. All very welcome. Lessons learned from the black hole. That’s part of my story. What’s yours? www.personalhistorywriter.com

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Broken Silence

They say silence is golden.  It seems to me that applies best to colicky babies and mothers in law.  But certainly there are other times when silence indicates that something good is happening.  For instance, my recent silence with blog posting.

It’s been a while since I posted to my blog.  I’m not sure how long exactly.  I could figure it out but that’s not really important.  What is important is why I’ve been silent.  And that is because I’ve been busy writing another book!

It’s finally finished, and published.  Ready to be read by millions.  Even turned into a movie!  Well, we’ll see about that.  But it is finished.

My specialty is, as you might have guessed from the name Personal History Writer, biography.  So no, I don’t expect this newest creation to be a million seller.  But it is an interesting story of a real life.  A life lived in conditions mostly unknown.  It’s called Unspoken History: The Untold Story of the Jackson/Curling Family and Their Lives as Canadian Home Children.

None of that ringing a bell?  Because it’s a mostly untold story!  From the earliest colonial days of the Americas all the way through the 1970’s, the British government was involved in a process by which the excess population of children in England was controlled by exporting them to the British colonies of Australia, South Africa and Canada.  These were children who were the poorest of the poor, orphaned and sometimes homeless.  Many were street urchins, a la Charles Dickens, but many were just poor kids whose families couldn’t afford to feed and clothe them.  And so they were taken from whatever life they had, and shipped off to the colonies to be laborers.  Named Home Children.

The inhabitants of the colonies needed this cheap labor to build the empire.  And the children paid a tremendous price.  Boys were sent to work on farms as farmhands.  Girls went as domestics.  But once there, anything, and everything could and did happen.  Few found happy or lasting places to be and many stories were told of emotional and physical abuse.  Sometimes to the point of death, or suicide.  No one cared.  No one checked on what was going on and over time tens of thousands of these children were sent into the system, many just vanishing from the face of the earth.

Not surprisingly, when the survivors “graduated” and were released from their servitude, they spoke very little of their  experience, if at all.  My client had several older relatives who served as Home Children.  She didn’t know this until she herself was middle aged as none of the relatives spoke of it.  Once she found out, she wanted to know more and began the process of gathering records of her relatives’ journey.  I served as transcriber of original hand written documents, researcher, organizer, photo archivist, editor and publisher.  In the process I learned a great deal about this unknown chapter of world and human history.  Seen through the eyes of several very young children.

Project complete.  The book is on Amazon.  The silence of these children’s lives is broken.  And now, on to the next thing!

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

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