My original intent in going to the antique stores was to look through the books, and hope that I would luck out, coming across a book or two by Elfrida Vipont. Having just finished reading The Family at Dowbiggins, I felt that I needed to pay more intention to the tomes scattered around the antique establishments. Of course, I had forgotten how much patience is required to look through all of them, because they’re all in similar colors, barely any of them have dust jackets (disintegrated long ago, I’m sure), and there are many repeats.
Do not misunderstand me, I like to look at books in any format, old or new. But the next time you complain about having to pay a huge price for that out-of-print book that you bid on, off of eBay, think again. Some of those books, the sellers may have come across by accident. But if they know of a book that’s selling like hotcakes, and near-to-impossible to find, then they must be digging through all the used books that are available to them.
So, I looked at all the shelves of books, but I found myself taking in one whole shelf at a glance, because they all seemed to blend together. Finding another Dowbiggins book would be a miracle. But occasionally, I noticed something interesting and took a closer look. Like this book of stories about famous or great women. I was curious to see who would be listed in the table of contents, anybody besides who’s on the cover? And I found a very lovely inscription, written a LONG time ago by someone’s grandmother. Who still remembers the times when you received a new book, with a note from the person who gave it, inside it? Not many of us.
My wandering eye did begin to take note of the other fun items in the stores. This Asian dragon monstrosity, for example, as it sat right next to a child’s rocking-cow (as opposed to a rocking-horse). I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or run away screaming. But the Noah’s Ark! Now, I’m not a collector of Noah’s Ark designs, like some people I know, and I had no desire to collect this one. It was like no other that I’ve seen before. I thought it was very whimsical, with the bears in hammocks, the pigs helping Noah out, and the raccoons assisting Mrs. Noah. The elephants, too, were being helpful by passing hay from top to bottom. Some of the small details really made me smile.
Once I left Mountain Made, I was again grateful that I had worn my Akubra, for the sun was beating down unmercifully. I felt sorry for everyone that didn’t have a hat like mine to wear, and received at least one compliment, in passing. And then I walked into two stores, in a row, that had no air conditioning. Sure, they had tons of fans blowing, but I wasn’t certain if I’d survive to get out of the first one, because the fans just circulated lots of hot air. The poor man working in there should’ve gone and bought himself an AC unit, no matter how much the cost.
My final stop was in a store that could come somewhere between a junk store and an antique store. Everything’s old, so I guess it makes them all antiques, but the sheer amount of stuff that I could only classify as junk! But then, some will call treasure what I call trash, I suppose. There was an AC unit built right into a shelf, amidst all the antiques, and it looked ancient, too, minus a For Sale tag on it. It blew around cool, but a musty old smell, which would leave you in no doubt of your location, even if you were blind.
Once I stepped down into the back room, I really had some fun, though. The giraffe amongst the pottery was interesting, the old bug sign on the shelf was funny, and I immediately coveted the card catalog row of drawers. I’ve always loved the look of a card catalog, so I really want one, someday, with those “poles” down the middle of the drawers removed. Such a place to store things!
If you’ve ever wondered where the wooden blocks of your childhood or the microscopes from middle school went, then I found them for you. Also, old wooden clothes pins, strange gears and racks of things, and beat up harpsichords. I know some people that would go all Martha Stewart and Pinterest designing with some of the items. I like to look and see if there’s an odd use I can get out of something, but not always in a design fashion. And I love old furniture, especially the desks with teeny little drawers in the back (if it’s in good condition, of course).
And so, my book expedition really ended up being an exploration of a number of things. I even passed the small Farmer’s Market that takes place in Pendleton, some days of the week, but didn’t stop to look. I was afraid I might cave in and buy something, since the jars of honey, jam, and all sorts of baked goods and fresh fruit looked too scrumptious for words.