Tuesday, September 18, 2012
One of the special things that came through the auction house the week I was there was this old scrapbook from the 1940s. It's rare on many counts, most importantly as an example of wartime and black memorabilia. From what I could tell, it was created by a young African American man who served in the military. You can sense the author's personality in the little marginal notes he wrote, like in this first picture of his friends with nicknames like Lucky, Fats, Chick, and Birdie. On another page, he wrote that Lefty "has it all the time" and "keeps it that way." Next to the photograph of a well-dressed young woman dated April 14, 1944, there's the rather poignant "I'll wait for you." There's such a rich sense of a life in these pages, I wonder what happened to the author and where they are all now.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Sometimes, seeing pictures of myself helps me figure out what looks good on me. This outfit, for example, I wore once and then never again. Eventually I donated the wool skirt to Goodwill, though it was well made in France and pure wool. It just didn't feel like "me." I see this picture now and think maybe I should have kept it.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
My mother-in-law owns an auction house in the Midwest, and many interesting things come through on a weekly basis. I was able to pay her a visit a few months ago, when I took these photographs. Even on a slow week, which it was that particular week, the things I saw were just leaps and bounds better than what I might find at a secondhand shop. Truly old things, real antiques. Some came on consignment, others were remainders from garage sales, or a buyout of an estate.
You could really get the sense of the people behind their collection of things. It can make you a little bit melancholy, actually. I remember in particular sorting through what seemed to be a box of stuff from a young boy, disjointed Batman figurines and McDonaldland toys and foreign coins and baseball cards. Most of it would be considered worthless in the current market, and I kept thinking about the little boy who collected all these things that probably meant a lot to him at one point. Now he has grown up and left these things behind.
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
I love this outfit, half nerdy and half arty. While I quite like the pants, I think the paperbag waist and overall shape might be too trendy for the price tag. But I love the Cora tee, with its graphic black and white color and intriguing eyelash print. By the time I discovered it on sale, though, I had already spent my budget for the season. If it shows up on eBay and my desire holds steady, I'll get it then.
I discovered a selection of larger-sized clothing from the 1950s in a small town noted for its importance in the women's rights movement. I suspect that they all came from the closet of the same woman. They're beautiful dresses with great ease and femininity. Unofficially, I think of them as "the suffragette's collection" because I like to imagine that the woman who wore them was part of her town's proud history. I posted two of them yesterday in the shop.
My favorite is this white dress, even with the flaws I found. I think it's polyester, but it has such a heavy, cool hand that it feels just lovely. It calls to mind city hall weddings.
Monday, August 6, 2012
One of the perks of opening up the vintage shop is stocking it with finds from the region. Sometimes with Travis and the baby, and sometimes with just the baby, I've been making day-long circuits to scope out the thrift stores in the area. First I pick a general direction that I plan to drive, conduct a little internet research to see what's out there, and then I connect a circuit that includes 5 or 6 stops in a couple towns. It's been a blast to explore upstate New York, which is full of small villages, each with their own distinctive feel and history.
One of the circuits I took with Travis went around a Finger Lake and ended with a pass through Penn Yan. I was excited to visit Penn Yan because Travis had mentioned it was in the middle of Mennonite country. Apparently, the area is experiencing a Mennonite population growth that has made the town noticeably more robust than the quiet villages that we had been seeing. It was also rather gritty in feel, with an abandoned factory, ominous warning signs, and an overgrown elevated railroad track with rotted-through wood that made it treacherous to navigate. In the window of one shop was hand-lettered apocalyptic sermons.
We did see some Mennonite folks--a stern-faced older couple traveling by horse and buggy, and a group of young women in colorful dresses riding bicycles (to my satisfaction, I've been stocking my shop with similar dresses).
We also found the thrift shop we were looking for, and I scooped up a cute sweater with a row of hearts across the chest. Afterward, we ate lunch at an old railroad car turned diner and sampled some yummy hand-churned ice cream in one of the downtown shops. All in all, it was a really fun outing that we might not have made but for the excuse of scouting thrift shops. So even if my vintage store endeavor doesn't pan out, I think that the fun of learning new things and exploring a new region (to me, since I've only lived here about a year) will make it worthwhile, regardless.