When I was a new mom I found this neat little rocker-bouncer thing at a neighbor’s yard sale. I loved how quaint and old school it was. So for a couple of bucks, I claimed it for my own carpet crawlers. With a little sanding and varnish, it looked good enough to keep around even after the kids outgrew it.
A decade later a friend asked me to donate it to raise money for the food co-op. I couldn’t refuse. The rocker was snatched up quickly by a bidder in the front row which made the food co-op very happy. That was that.
Five years later I decided to pursue a career in another state. That meant selling my 1909 home with a butler’s pantry, porch swing, and 2-way stair access. I really loved that place. But the young couple who bought it loved it too. And because they were friends of friends, I designated a room for them to drop things off before we closed the deal.
The last few weeks there were kind of sad. Every night after work I’d walk through the house reliving memories and making sure I had emptied all the closets. Then one night I was shaken to the core by what I found. There in the midst of the growing pile of the buyers’ belongings was the old rocker-bouncer I had restored fifteen years earlier. It had come home with a new family to start another story. Don’t you just love happy endings?
PS: I recently learned that the little rocker bouncer, called the ShooFly Teeter Totter was made by the Delphos Bending Company in the mid-50s. A barrel hoop maker, Delphos began manufacturing children’s furniture in 1934. By 1951 it was the world’s largest manufacturer of kids’ furniture.
My first antique store experience was in the 80’s in Michigan. The owners’ love of things old and precious was absolutely contagious. Over the years I would buy a vintage silver heart-shaped pendant, a large framed beveled mirror from a gorgeous Mae West era sideboard, and an 1860’s nightstand from them. I still have and love them all.
The many wonderful things I’ve collected since then have come with the memory of who was with me when I bought them, and where they came from. My house is full of flashbacks.
Then every so often someone will become attached to something on my wall or shelf; a face that looks like someone they know; the image of the Spirit of St Louis against a menacing sky; an antique English plate with a real historical connection to them. So I gladly relinquish them to the people they belong with. It makes me so happy to know they’re loved even more by someone else.
My friend’s husband once asked her, “why do you buy old things when you can afford to have whatever you want new?” Why? Because every piece tells a story. It reminds us that those who came before us lived, loved, feared, cried, laughed, and grew in the presence of these wonderfully comforting treasures.
Now my daughter is embracing vintage pieces in her home. Last year she used an old mid-century snow sled as part of her Christmas decoration. Imagine my surprise when without knowing it, she had bought one that was identical to the one I had has a kid.
The point is, sometimes we’re the permanent recipient. Other times we’re the interim caretaker. Either way, it’s a good thing.