Old Things

old-chairIntimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood

(William Wordsworth)

Ye that through your hearts to-day
Feel the gladness of the May!
What though the radiance which was once so bright
Be now for ever taken from my sight,
Though nothing can bring back the hour
Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;
We will grieve not, rather find
Strength in what remains behind

I think this is a beautiful poem.  I guess because it reminds me of my grandmother (a collector of old things and a professional thrift store shopper), my mother (would collect anything she found and was very good at it, although when she started getting Alzheimer’s the collection of hubcaps was pretty odd), myself (collects anything shiny), my daughter (has an eagle eye and love for antiques), my daughter- in -law (another trained eye for treasures) and my grandson (who already has collections of EVERYTHING and once ran up to me and said, “Look at my new  shoes Gramma!  They’re from the Goodwill!”)

I’ve collected since I was tiny.  I have a collection of plastic charms from the 1950’s that came in gumball machines which is actually listed in my will.  I can remember heading down to Grant’s Corner Store near our old house in Portland with my BFF Kathryn and we would stuff pennies into that machine every day.  Then we’d trade.  This was an important and serious business.  To this day we can ask each other questions about our collections and trades and the items float through my mind just like it was yesterday.  I also have a collection of wind up toys.  I must have at least 300 and keep looking for a nice display place for them.  My studio is full of tiny treasures, Catholic ritual items, old marbles and my mom’s collection of every key known to man.  It’s kind of messy, yes.  But don’t anyone try and take away the old Portland zoo key my daughter gifted me or there will be a fight. 

Old things contain secret leftovers from earlier times and people.  They have a magic in them that can be handed down in stories, songs and pictures to the people you choose to pass them on to.  I often think about who might have owned some of the things I’ve found at garage sales and in antique shops.  I even have a booth at Antique Alley in the Portland Hollywood District.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  If you find or are given a thing that someone else has treasured, that treasure and all the magic feelings caught inside it will pour into you.  I’ve even found antique postcards showing up in my newest artwork.  Found objects will help my students in Mexico to define the duality of the Mexican people and feel the spirit of the country. 

We outgrow love like other things
  And put it in the drawer,
Till it an antique fashion shows
  Like costumes grandsires wore.

                           –Emily Dickenson


If you have any comments to share about old things I’d love to read about your secret collections!

6 thoughts on “Old Things

  1. Lee Russell

    Jerry, you couldn’t have excited me more. Found items in Mexico to inspire us? YES! YES! YES! I already have a collection of angels/dolls from all over the world – including a prostitute doll from Mexico one of my best friends knew I had to have. These all lead to to stories and paintings and connections and joy. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Ruth Armitage

    I love your post on this topic. You have put into words the very heart of why I love old things. I collect old tins, teacups (from my grandmother & my hubby’s grandmother) keys, photographs and family stories. Thanks for the validation 🙂

  3. Jerry

    It has to be in the blood. I also have a collection of Trinkets from penny machines and of course Cracker Jacks. I have been giving mine to one of my Granddaughters one at a time. It’s really fun. I also collect old Picture Post Cards. Our house is a step back in time with all the “Old Junk”. Love “Collector” Cousin Jerry


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *