In our house the words, Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle are common place. Don’t get me wrong, we both love to spend money, and buy new things, who doesn’t? Actually, I think I’m the best at spending. My husband thinks he’s the best at it! Ok, both of us have to keep check on each other!
When I was small, mother and myself would go out junking, or antiquing, depending on the store. If it was called an antique store, everything in it would be higher in price. If it was called a junk store, prices would reflect that. Today even junky Junk stores are pricy, and antique stores are out of the ballpark! When it comes to reusing something, I’m the one in our household who loves taking something old, and repurposing it.
Many years ago, when I first got married, we didn’t have a lot of money, so Mom and I would look everywhere for furniture that we could both fix up for my new home. Mom could sniff out the best bargains of anyone I have ever met, and she really knew how to negotiate the best price for those bargains too! I remember finding an oblong pine drop leaf table that was in great condition. Just the table, not the chairs. I really needed that table, so after bargaining with the shop owner, the price was dropped to a doable amount, and home we went with our new purchase.
The thing is, I never really liked that table!
It was maple, and looked too Early American for me, but since I needed one, and the price was right, I bought it! Mom loved Early American, and she secretly wanted me to love it also, but my style was more country. I liked that worn look of history!
Several months later I found a different table at the same shop, and this time it was the table of my dreams! This table was an old, oak, oval, kitchen table with two drop leafs, and a square pedestal. It had really been beaten up, and you could tell it had lived a colorful life just by sliding your hand over the top. Character, and personality, oozed out the grain of the wood, and it had a charm that the other table would never have! As I proceeded to negotiate with the shop owner, I could feel my stomach churning with excitement. It wasn’t long before he agreed to take the other table in exchange for my beautiful new farm table. Even in those days, these tables were rare, and to this day, I’ve never seen one exactly like it. Even reproductions aren’t close!
That same afternoon, Mother, and myself loaded the maple table into the back of her wagon, and off we went to return it to the shop, and exchange it for my new farm table. We worked quickly before the owner of the store changed his mind. He most likely could get more money from the first table, it certainly was in better condition, but I only wanted to make sure the oak table didn’t find itself in another home by mistake! As everyone knows, one man’s junk, is another man’s treasure!
The real fun began when Mom and I delivered the oak table to my apartment, and spent the rest of the afternoon deciding how to clean it up without damaging it even more! I think we used Murphy’s Oil Soap on it, followed by a robust application of steel wool to smooth out the surface. Today, I use Murphy’s for cleaning my make up brushes, and my art brushes…it is the best, most gentle thing you could ever use on brushes! When we were finished cleaning up the table it had a beautiful patina, and the grain of the wood was fabulous! Let me tell you that table gave us many years of wonderful service, it always looked so beautiful when it was dressed up with fancy skirts, fine china, and my best silver. I can still see it, and long for a table just like it, maybe a place to put it while I’m sitting here longing would be nice also!
A couple of years later I received a call from my Mother one afternoon, late in the day. She told be she had found four bent wood chairs, and she asked if I would I like to have them? Of course, “ I’d love to have them!” I’d been dreaming of having bent wood chairs, and had never found anything close to a chair like that on my junking days, so yes! Pretty soon, I was pulling the ugly chairs I’d been using out of my dinning room , and replacing them with four cleaned up, and polished bent wood chairs. That really made my day!
I found out later that Mother had lifted (literally lifted), the chairs from the back of a Thrift Store where someone had donated them. I guess Mom wasn’t perfect after all!
Mom, and I went on like this for years until Dad decided to retire, and sell their home to live aboard a boat in Long Beach Harbor. That turned out to be fun too, but the antiquing days as we knew them, would now be only a memory, and we never kicked around like that again. Occasionally, while one of us would visit the other, we would do a little garage sailing, and thrift store shopping, but it never was the same.
Those days were so much fun, we were able to do so much as mother and daughter, and those memories are something I will always cherish!