View From Hickory Heights
Recently when my daughter, my granddaughter, and I were at an antique shop my daughter told her daughter that is the way she grew up. She was right. When our children were young we often took a Sunday ride that took us to some antique store.
One Sunday we would head to Stockton. There were a couple stores there at that time, but there was one big one in an old basket factory. Mostly we did not purchase big things, but then again, we found several big items there. I found the light fixture that is in my living room there. I also found the lid to a hammered aluminum roaster. I had found the bottom half of it, but it was missing a top. I used foil for a while but when I saw one that I thought would fit I made a deal that it could be returned if it did not work. Guess what? It was a perfect fit and I am still using it.
Another day we would head for Ellington. There were a couple places there as well. There we found a handle for the old Victrola case that we had. We do not use the handle (it just fills up the hole) since the stereo is electric. Even if we did not find anything it was fun to look at all of the things they had. I took time to explain the function of things to the children so they know what many of the old things are.
Usually on these forays we took time for an ice cream cone so that was enough to keep the children interested. They really were very patient with us. Sometimes they sat somewhere in a chair while their dad and I looked around. Sometimes they looked at things themselves.
On our fifth wedding anniversary, my mother took us to dinner at Ramsey’s Restaurant. The kids loved it there because they got a dollop of sherbet after every course of the dinner. They thought that was wonderful. After dinner, we headed around Chautauqua Lake stopping at some antique stores. That day we purchased an old oil lamp to hang in our kitchen. The light had two lamps. It also had a spring so that it could be lowered down to the table. We electrified it so that it no longer drops down because of the cord. It has been in our kitchen ever since. I always decorate it at Christmas time with greenery and a pinecone candy cane.
At the same place where we found the lamp we found small beds for the children. My husband fixed them so they held crib mattresses. Two of those beds fit into the master bedroom of the trailer that we were living in and we took the small one.
Often the second-hand stores had things I could use. I remember finding a shelf that I used when I went to craft shows. It made a great display rack for my books. I found that out in Amish country in Ohio and brought it back with me.
Everywhere we went we looked at antiques. Antiques were different in all parts of the country. When I went to New Orleans the stores there were very high end. I did not purchase anything since it was very expensive.
There was also an antique store not far from where we live. Nick, the owner, was quite a character. Usually we went there around Christmas to see if we could find something for our home. His wife always had a pot of coffee on and some juice for the children. She also put out Christmas cookies. Our children liked going there. They often talk about Nick’s stories. The storage buildings were not heated so you went into the office that was warm to make your deal and pay for what you found. One year we found a beautiful oak frame that we purchased for our son’s home.
I brought back a small table from a shop near Lancaster, PA. That was the only trip that my husband and I took except ones to visit the children. That table is in the spare bedroom with a light on top of it.
While we were in Iowa we found a small spoon that was the stopper of a cream top milk bottle. I had looked for one of those for years because I had the bottle. The dairies used to give the spoons away when you bought that kind of milk. Most of them must have gotten thrown away because I have not seen one since. We also found a small barrel for our daughter.
Another foray into Amish country in Ohio netted a soup ladle that pours from the side. I really like that for dishing up soup. I have since found some new ones just like the older model – I think Paula Deen sold them. I purchased one for each of the girls.
When our family started the type of exchange that we do there was a category for something second-hand. Each of us interpreted it in our own way. One inventive person gave an old pair of underwear as his second-hand item. That year I received an antique frame. We took a family photo and I put in in my “new” frame.
Sometimes we found old books. I have an old Dr. Seuss book that I purchased on a trip to Vermont. I also have an old copy of ‘Twas the Night before Christmas illustrated by Grandma Moses. My husband read that to the children every Christmas Eve while Santa paid a visit.
I have just scratched the surface of our finds, but as I look around the house I remember where each piece was purchased. It is comforting to think back of the good old days when we were out and about as a young family. Memories – those are the things that no one can take from you no matter how old you get. I like to think that many of our finds will end up in the children’s and grandchildren’s homes some day because I use these things every day.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org