Monday, March 26, 2012
Kids find the darnedest things
I don't take my kids to estate sales as much as I used to, much to their relief and mine. I generally hit sales on Friday mornings, when both kids are in school and the merch is usually partially discounted but there's still good stuff left (and no lines to get inside). They don't like coming for the obvious reasons: It's boring! We're bored! You won't buy us anything! Though of course that's not true—I buy them stuff all the time, most of it total crap to appease them while Mommy finishes sorting through all the musty ephemera in the garage. But sometimes they hit on something good, like this nice edition of The Boy's King Arthur, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth and published by Scribner's, which my eight-year-old unearthed from a landslide of forgettable books, mostly mildewed and worm-chewed. The best part was how she gave me that familiar big-eyed, pleading look, the same one she gives me when she wants me to buy her some squalid Happy Meal toy:
Her: Mom, can I PLEASE get this?
Me: Oh, I don't know, sweetie—it's 25¢ and the dustjacket is in tatters... I guess, but you'll have to work extra hard in the salt mines next week!
When I was her age, my family used to do flea markets and antique shows every weekend. As a bribe, a distraction, my parents gave my brother and I a little money so we could shop. I think I spent most of my money on hot chocolate, doughnuts and pony rides (whenever possible), but I also browsed the stalls and made purchases, most of which probably ended up in landfills because as you know, I have everything, and remember everything, so I am sure if I bought it and it was worth keeping, I would still have it? Or at least remember it?
One thing I remember well was a handmade stuffed horse, with a yarn mane, that I obsessed over from the moment we arrived at a flea market held in a public-school gymnasium in Paramus, NJ. Part of the appeal might have been the young woman selling it. She had a whole herd of handmade stuffed horses—and she looked like Bailey from WKRP, but with cat-eye glasses and a Betsy Ross-style outfit. In other words, tres chic circa the mid-’70s. I hung around that booth all day, making small talk and ogling the many styles of patchwork horses—when I wasn't back at our own booth nagging my parents for the astronomical sum of $10. Finally my dad caved at the end of the day—I got the black horse covered with red hearts and I'm sure Bailey was glad to be rid of me. (Between the labor of making the horse and putting up with me all day—was it only worth $10? Inflation, I guess.) Anyway, long story short: The horse graces the bed in my old room in NJ, and my kids play with it whenever we visit. I refuse to bring it back to Texas as they have about 350 stuffed animals between them (no lie—we counted once, and that was a couple years ago).
Another time, at the flea market we did regularly on the grounds of the junior high school in Sparta, NJ, I bought a small, round blue bottle for 10¢ (10¢!). Later, I showed it to my mother who instantly recognized it as a highly collectible Lalique perfume bottle. She cajoled me into giving it to her in exchange for a small polished pale green stone with googly eyes glued onto it that a friend of hers was selling (I got to choose from a whole case of googly-eyed stones). And it should come as no surprise for you to hear that I still have that googly-eyed stone inside my old tackle box. (I'll add a photo next time I'm taking pictures.) Does my mom still have the Lalique bottle? Doubtful, but you never know...