Thursday, December 18, 2014

Old New England Glassware in the Home - Part One - "Cupboards Full... Boxes in the Attic"

Old New England Glassware in the Home

Part One

"Cupboards Full... Boxes in the Attic"

            Mrs. Randolph spoke with me at the antiques show several Sundays ago.  She told me that they (she and her husband) are moving into their cottage in Boothbay and are selling their home.  She wanted me to “advise” her .
            About her “antiques”?
            I... was slow and evasive.  I wouldn’t even call it a ‘response’.
            Mrs. Randolph is called ‘Eve’ by her ‘family’ since girlhood and through her life within her family.  She is called Eve only by her family.  Her family is her inner circle?
            Mrs. Randolph is called ‘Winter’ by her community of friends.  She has always been called Winter by these friends.  I have no idea why.  If, for example, Mrs. Randolph approaches me at the antiques show with two friends in tow... or... was it actually that the two friends had Mrs. Randolph in tow... these friends speak to me of “Winter” “needs your help” “Winter is moving to smaller quarters”.
            “It has the most wonderful view of the harbor”.
            “Winter needs you to look.  She has all kinds of things you know.  Mostly antiques”.
            I doubted that.

            When I arrived I was brought to the dining room first.  Winter was there with her younger sister Caroline.  This was commonly “Carol” and / or “Bing”.  This day it was “Bing” and “Eve” until Sharon arrived and kept calling Mrs. Randolph ‘Winter’.  In the dining room.  We would go off and away from the dining room on a foray to ‘see’ a ‘something’ ‘like that’.  Etc.  We always came directly back to the dining room.
            The dining room had a large and tall (“good height” for modern seating) dining room table with, that day, having its extra leaves ‘in’, so could easily seat eight in the set of twelve (two armchairs) ‘furniture factory’ grade 1960’s faux Chippendale ‘side chairs’.  Twelve ‘including children’ were often ‘seated’ ‘at Thanksgiving’.  This day the table had been ‘set up’ and was ‘covered’ with the ‘glassware’ from the ‘cupboards’.  This display was qualified by Bing with the declaration that “There are more boxes of it in the (top floor) attic too”.  Eve said “Yes, yes; boxes more of it”.
            “Wedding glass” I said.
            Both Eve and Bing looked at me.
            “The world is filled with it; wedding glass.”
            “Some of it is very good quality” said Eve.
            “You use that of course.” I said.
            “Oh no never I don’t want to break it.”
            “Well someone is going to break it....
            Both Eve and Bing looked at me.
            “When you recycle it”.  

            If there was a starting point for a negative ‘turn’ to this ‘estate contents’, it might as well be the suggestion by me that all of the glassware on the dining room table be stacked into plastic crates and ‘recycled’.  “We... put all this out (on the dining table) for you to see”.
            “I see.” I said.
            “There’s more of it in the kitchen we didn’t get out”.
            “I don’t need to see it”.
            “The... glasses are quite old.  Some of them.” said Bing, looking hard a me.
            “And some of them are not very old at all.” I said.
            “All of it is older.”
            “Yes... this here” I said gesturing to the table top display “is 1960’s wedding glassware.  From someone’s wedding.”
            “My wedding.” said Eve.
            “And you’ve never used it.”
            “No.  I never use it.”
            “No one ever does.  It is always ‘kept’.  In the cupboards.  And the attic.
            “Well I never really had any need to use it.”
            “No one ever does.  This” I continued with another hand gesture... “is how that glassware is used.  People like you put it on tables like this and make me look at it.  Did you wash it?”
            “We did.” said Bing.
            “I can tell.” I said.

            The rest of the estate contents looked like this (the dining table top and its glassware) too.  No one had purchased any art or antiques... or rare books... ever.  The ‘things’ in the ‘estate’ had been ‘accumulated’.  As opposed to having been ‘collected’.  Very little object discrimination had been invoked.  There, too, was very little suggestion of ‘taste’...:  An ‘of any taste’ let alone the enigmas of ‘good taste’ and... ‘bad taste’.  Why don’t I is say I noted ‘zero taste’ ‘in there’ and
            Of the old New England glassware.  Too.  It was not old New England glassware on the dining table.  It was junk wedding glass ‘never used’.
            Recycle it.

            “If that makes you uncomfortable then donate it to the (strip mall grade box store) thrift store (with their easy drive up donation door).  Their little girls will put all of it out for sale for a month and then clean off the shelf and recycle it (the glassware; all of it).  What did think happens to the glassware in those places?”
            “Oh.” said Eve.  Bing said nothing.
            “It’s quicker just to put it out on recycling day.  If you want to give it a chance put it out a few days early with a sign saying ‘FREE’.”
            “Oh... that’s not what I was expecting.”
            “Well this is what I was expecting and I never wash any glassware like this ever.”
            “How did you know?”
            “Because you have never bought a piece of antique glass ever and you don’t even know what antique glass is (let alone old New England glass).  When ever you’ve talked about glassware... in your life... you’ve used words like ‘juice glasses’ or ‘wine glass’.

“This” I continued, “display looks like the accumulation of someone who knows what a ‘juice glass’ is.  And nothing more.  Don’t get disturbed with me for telling you that.  You invited me to advise you... I believe you said.  I have done that.  It has little to do with me that your glassware is no good.  By no good I mean that it has no commercial value AND that it has no atheistic value.  It is not antique and it is not art.  

“I will be more specific.  Having this sort of glassware, using this glassware pretentiously, storing it in attics and cupboards for eternity, fretting over its breakage is... in my (antiquarian) world... bad taste.  A dead giveaway of bad taste.  This behavior shows that one knows nothing about their glassware, cares nothing about their glassware, in most cases spent no money ever on their glassware and therefore may be summarized as having bad taste in ones glassware inclusive of ones... juice glasses.  I don’t expect you to pay me for telling you this.  But you should.  If you live in a fine old New England in your mind’s eye... then, I tell you to your face, you should at least know of old New England glassware.  Generations before you did and they applaud from their graves what I just said.”

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The "Redskin" Jenkins Place

The "Redskin" Jenkins Place

            It took me over fifteen years to get into the Jenkins’ place**.  I tried for over fifteen years.  First I met with Redskin’s mother.  But she died.  I couldn’t move her at all.  Nothing.
            After she passed on I’d push Redskin every chance I got.  First I went to knocking on the door but I fell back on only stopping when I’d catch him out in yard.  Then I’d pull in and get out and try to move him.  Never worked.  So I got to just staying in the truck and hollering to him.  After a while he started coming over to the truck when I’d stop.  I didn’t have to holler at him anymore and he come over and we’d speak for a while.  That was it.  Probably went that way for ten years.  I’d always try to move him; get into anyone of his buildings.  Just could not get into that place.  But... in our own way... Redskin and I become friends.  Of a sort anyway.  He didn’t see many people up there so when I’d come along we’d make a little hash.

            Now today they say Redskin shouldn’t be called redskin.  But he always was called Redskin and that name had nothing to do with Indians.  Nope.
            He got that name when he was probably fourteen or fifteen.  They were moving Eldridge’s barn.  A whole crew of ‘em.  Well one corner shifted on it’s blocking.  So the foreman, Ted Williams, yells down for them boys to do this and that.  He’s watching them down there come across and yells at ‘em to ‘get that redskin fella in with yah too’.  Well.  That was Redskin.  See he was wearing his red plaid jacket.  Hunting jacket.  Always wore it.  So right there after that everyone called him Redskin.  That was that.

            His mother was fat and ugly.  She could be nasty at the back door and at the front door too.  Everyone give her distance.  That was that.
Well.  Redskin married the Julep girl.  Missy’s daughter.  She moved in with Redskin and his mother.  Everyone said that wouldn’t work but they did work.  Seemed to figure.  So that went along.

Well.  That girl would visit her family for the summer.  Leave Redskin and go down to her family’s place in Massachusetts.  Danvers, Massachusetts it was.  She’d leave the end of June and comeback after Labor Day.  Make a summer of it.  Of course it was an awful long ways away for Redskin and he never went ever.  He never went anywhere ever except to go into town.
            Well.  One summer.  Must be fifty, sixty years now.  Maybe even longer.  They sent word up from Danvers that she’d died.  Died dead suddenly.
            Well.  Redskin took that.  Of course his mother did just fine with that too.  So Redskin said to send her body up on the train.
            Well.  They said they was keeping her body down there.
            Well.  Redskin said ok to that.
            And that was that.
            Well.  Except for that there’s always been this story that she didn’t really die.  What they say is that she and her sisters died her so she could run off with another fella from down there.  That’s what they said.  It’s always been the story.

            Well.  If a story like that sticks around for as long as that story has I’d say probably there’s some truth to it.  Redskin’s mother died next.  She’s buried here.  Might as well have buried her right down in the center of the village I say.  Awful nasty woman.
             From then on Redskin lived alone up at their place.  I started to try to move him.  Then we come along to hash.  Then I’d say we become friends.  As much as friends as Redskin had.

            Not that he was lacking for friends.  Everyone knew Redskin and were all fair friends.  Hunting season the whole town would go up back of his place.  And drive. Redskin was a skillful hunter.  Before anyone could go up back of his place he’d have one hung in his yard.  Only one or two years maybe, ‘it’s been slow’, as he said.  But I can’t remember even those years.  No.  No one didn’t get along with Redskin.  The whole town would tip their hats when he walked down.  Never drove into town a day of his life.  Jesus.  Just his mother’s Ford.  They’d die for that today.  Never left outside a night of its life.  Still in the damn barn right as I speak.

            He still had all of his hunting jackets.  Even that first one I figure.  He kept that one in the shed.  Hung up.  “Old one” he’d say of it.  He had three he’d run in when we’d hash in the yard.  Three jackets.  One was lighter.  Wore that one all summer.  That old one I spoke of; he was pretty proud of it.  Some anglers had come up and he went up with ‘em on the lake to be their camp boy.  Campy Nelson was cooking for ‘em.  Redskin carried the wood and paddles and fed their all their dogs and all that.  So they give him that jacket; the old one, when they were leaving.  That started it.  I believe it was that one.  Redskin wore his redskin from then on.  Like I said.  He still had that old one hung up in the shed.

            When I finely moved him we come on it; that old one. 
Well.  So I say take it down and say put it on for me.  He did and of course it still fit him button closed.  He grinned and that jacket I tell you has held up a lot better than his teeth.  Yep but he smiled.  I looked that one all over.  He showed me his sewing it.  On the cuffs.  Collar.  Round the button holes.  Told me himself he had to buy some black thread.  Went into the Variety and stood line with the women buying their thread he said.

            By that time we’d hashed his other jackets.  His redskins.  Oh he’d show me this and that he found wrong with ‘em.  Number of peeves he had about each one.  He bought those ‘over the years’ he’d say.  So I said ‘what’s the years’?  Well.  He figured eight for each.  So I said twenty-four years.  Nope he says it would be longer.  More like thirty two.  Years.
            Well.  I said don’t you get hot.  He looks and says well don’t I get cold. 
            Well.  I said I guess I do.

            So we were always gabby on his jackets.  I took to wearing mine over there.  In season.  He looked it all over.  Mine’s Johnson.  So I say that I’d like that Filson.  Oh he says Johnson holds up better always has now that Filson talks Chinese he says.  “Whole country’s going to HELL” he said.  Always said that.  At the end of just about everything he said.

            Well.  I guess I do miss him.  Old coot.  I still got a lot of the stuff I got out there.  Its not that its any good stuff.  You know.  Its just was his stuff.  I mean his old stuff.  You know:  That stuff.  Course my wife run off with some of it from the first day I got in.  Keeps it.  Ok I say old Redskin would probably want it that way anyway.  I had that old jacket for awhile.  Then I sold it.  I did.  Probably shouldn’t have I guess.  Oh Hell what was I gonna do with it and some kids probably wearing around in New York City right now telling everyone he’s a hunter from Maine.  Should have buried Redskin in that jacket.  They buried him in one of his newer ones.  That was right, that was and he didn’t have any other clothes anyway.

** : ‘Get in’ as an antiques picker; a person who goes into old houses to purchase ‘old things’ (antiques) to resell.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Coon Hill - Part Fourteen - "Ladies All..."

Coon Hill

Part Fourteen

"Ladies All I Pray Make Free
And Tell M How You Like Your Tea."

            We... I describing and the reader following along... come to the last two days of the ‘clean out’ of this estate; the ‘reaching’ the ‘broom clean’ contractual status (Parts One, Four and after) sealed with the ‘return of the key(s)’ ‘of the place’ ‘to the estate’ (usually a desk girl toward the front of a law firm who... asks... if... “everything went ok?”... et al... sort of questions.  Easy to understand this:  This is ‘estate clean out’ ‘game over’.  Done.
            I never go back.

            There is nothing (no ‘antiques’) there... ever again... including ‘the people who buy the place’, ‘fix it up’ and... ‘decorate it with antiques’.  Easy to understand this... too.
            NOW with the two days left clock ticking I am, again, alone ‘in there’ with... ha, ha, ha.... “I knew I wouldn’t be alone for long for HERE HE COMES”... Asa.  Yes, but:
            I have now spoken enough of this to ...not surprise the reader... by saying ‘ha, ha, ha’ I am NOT that bothered by Asa for, as I have endeavored to convey... he-of-his-sort ARE TOO ‘part of this’.  I mean... WE are NOT together in the ...the Target (Part Thirteen)... parking lot... vision of the world.  We are here.  AND... Asa cried in the living room of the estate... TOO (Part Two).

            I mean... I didn’t CRY here...  never even got close.  So... like... is it REALLY a ‘surprise’ and a ‘that bad’ that this ...human shaped snot ball of a hoarding antique thief... is a ‘coming around ... after scientifically determining through his own vision of the cosmic order of things that... I... am ‘still there’ ‘now’ ‘too’.  “I’m gonna go WHACK on him!” he... I don’t know if he actually did... says to himself outside the front door.  Rubs his hands together and then... comes in without knocking... into the ‘HOUSE” to “BUG ME”.
            I, ah... “ok” and ‘see that coming’ and I...  OK: TWO DAYS LEFT six hours of day one GONE when Asa, always punctual, ‘at eleven’ ‘an hour before lunch’... WHOSE LUNCH... shows up.

            Now... these last days and their action are a consistent fixture in my clean-out method.  By the that days I... have... cleaned... out... the... estate.  There is some ‘stuff’ there but... it (the estate) IS... to the lay I-eye... cleaned out.  AND I am intentionally alone and I... this first day... fully complete the clean out to MY broom clean contractual criteria...:
            “Yeah, yeah, yeah get the point” is a foist-at-me but I remind that YOU are looking for space to park at the Target... and NOT looking for ‘antiques’ in Colonial Maine farms.  So... I am there doing MY broom clean dance AND ‘loading’ ‘stuff’’ I purposely left ‘there’ ‘until now’ such as the two occasional tables (Part Thirteen).  There is a ‘truck load’ of ‘that kind of stuff (‘good antiques’) there for me to TAKE .... “TODAY”.  “What the?” you say?

            OK so when you have a contract you don’t ‘empty’ ‘it’ before that contract is ‘over’ because a someone-who-parks-at-the-TARGET might think, therefore, ‘your done’ cleaning out.  “I’m not done”.  So:  Got it?
            AND OK so... amusingly... ‘leaving’ ‘good stuff’ is ‘not a problem’ because the same park-at-the-Target set figure... for me (YOU)... and to themselves... that IF YOU ‘left that’ it is... ‘no good’ ‘because YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR DOING’.  SO if I leave the 1810 English Regency drum top stand AND the New England dish top candle stand ‘in there’ with... like... a bottle of Windex and roll of p towels on the c stand and a... hammer, pry bar and flashlight on the... plant pot stained ‘top’ of the drum stand...:  They, a thief, will only ‘take that’; the flashlight, hammer and pry bar.  Absolutely... securing this... by dirty trick... is the skillful-on-my-part leaving on the floor beside the drum stand a... six pack of  ‘Quick Stop’ grade beer... lacking one can (leaving five cans).  In most cases a ‘visitor’ will... ‘take that’ and... be completely satisfied with their ‘visit’ and... even leave the.... flashlight.

            So this day one day is... ‘broom clean’ day and here comes... skipping along... Asa.  WHAT then is day two?
            Well, bronco busters... that day is a dirty day.  I, broom clean, come back with two “I choose’ ‘guys’ ‘I know’ whose quality service offering is that they are... really good... at ‘creeping’ ‘old farms’ to ‘find things’.  Here, for example, there are six old buildings on the property.  WE have ‘cleaned’ those buildings ‘out’.  No one thinks we have not done this BUT:
            This is the ...first time... in the property’s two hundred and fifty year history and the ...last time... in its two hundred and fifty year history... that... WE (I) and/or ANYONE going to be alone on this property... ‘looking for antiques’.  It is a simple “Don’t screw this (opportunity) up”.  WE... at the empty, cleaned out... farm ...spend a whole day creeping ALL OF IT... in tag team togetherness, spiritedness, Old New England-ness, old farm-ness... old your-not-there-or-are-gonna-be-there-either-ness.  It is the complete old... every time I ever drive by that place again ever... I ‘know’ ‘it’s empty’ (“broom clean”) ...ness.

            That’s what we do.  That day.  AND... for the record... the creeper buddies of mine invited there... although very good at creeping and ‘finding’... are... by their own afflictions... ‘very stupid’ when it comes to ‘knowing’ about ‘antiques’ and ‘art’.  Especially the last.  OK they don’t ‘the TARGET’ themselves so much.  It’s MORE HOME D for them actually and-but... “the wife” is both ‘the Target’ AND B-B-BEYOND.  So... ah... they find it (antiques) ok but ...”don’t know”.  Except that they do ‘have surmised’ that I DO know and, well... don’t’ like that.  Especially when I goof on them that, for example, at a review of the ‘finds’ they, should they and they don’t... ‘steal something’... they probably wouldn’t take the ‘a good thing’.
            I remind... that in the Colonial New England homestead setting... ‘things’ were few and scarce.  They were ‘put away’ and ...that’s a big door that opens right there.  If they were ‘put away’ they are probably ‘still there’.  We just ‘look’.  And look.  And look.  It takes a whole day of being alone, not being bugged and not having to ‘explain’ what we are doing.  That’s the last day in a ‘broom clean’ estate.  It’s a very pleasant day and actually is ‘part of my job’.

            Asa won’t come visiting the ‘last day’.  Too many trucks.  Scares him away.  “Good bye”.  If Asa suggests asking to be around I suggest that my ‘they’ helpers will... pack him up in an old nailed shut box and leave him under the eaves in the attic for the ‘roofers to find’.  Shifting his weight back and forth... Asa takes that verbal hit but... still keeps coming.

            “Dartmouth wasn’t it?” I continue.
            “Dartmouth College.”
            “No... Cambridge.”
            “Divinity?  You can pass the dish (the ‘offering plate)?”
            “Oh certainly.”
            “Have you ever?”
            “ the traditional sense... I will admit.”
            “OH THIEF you ARE.  I forgot.
            “Same as passing the plate really.”

            “That’s philosophical of you.  You must have studied someone.  Margaret Fuller?”
            “A seed from Thoreau?”
            “A single grain of rice?” I continue.  “Looks to me like you’ve spilled rice all over the FLOOR of your life.”
            “You always look at others like they’ve been cast.”
            “Cast in bronze or cast off your back porch?”

            “When you get to the ‘Death Chair’ I’d like to buy it.”
            “Buy it!”
            “It is for sale.”
            “Two fifty ($250.00).
            “Oh I won’t pay THAT.”
            “Where is it?  I’d like to look at it again.”
            “Again?  You have a memory of it?”
            “You sat in it?” I continue.
            “YOU sat in it YOU SAID.”
            “Yes I did; sat my butt right down in it.”
            “No one ever...”
            “Except ME.  That comes with this dirty business of mine.”
            “Dirty business?”
            “You know... having to be violated by someone like you.  That makes this dirt dirty.”
            “When you come down (in price) let me know.”
            “Your not gonna buy that.  Let me put it outside the (front) door so you can steal it.

            Pause and then Asa says “Just where is the chair?”
            “Right in there.” I say briskly while turning to point at the... very closed... bedroom door. “I put it in there for safe keeping.  That room has a MAGIC force field that keeps people like you far, far away.”
            “I’m gonna fetch it now and put it out on the porch for you to steal so get ready Mr. Minister for your act of GOD.”
            “Stealing Her chair”.
            “You are a piece of shit.” I said and paced to the bedroom door.  I opened it, left it wide open, stepped in and retrieved the chair...  Then I carried it out of the bedroom through the main room past Asa directly to the front door of the homestead where I, holding the chair in one hand, opened that door.  Stepping out into the late morning air I plopped the chair down to the going-out-that-door’s left.
            I walked back into the house closing the door behind me.  Then I paced directly across the room to the bedroom doorway and closed that door too.  Asa... spent most of all of that staring at the open bedroom doorway.

            “Asa” I said.  “I’m gonna say something and then your gonna go and steal the chair.”  I said something to Asa.  He listened.  I’ll speak what I said in a minute.  Asa, at the end, looked at me, turned round, went out the front door and closed it behind him.  I stood in the room very carefully listening.  I heard Asa shuffle the chair.  Then silence.  Then I heard Asa shuffle the chair again.  Then silence.  Then I heard Asa’s feet stepping across the porch.  Then he stopped.  Then he steps back and I hear the chair shuffle again.  Then I hear Asa step away and down the porch steps.  Then it is quiet:  All quiet.  I wait.
            I am alone in the house.  There is no noise.  I go to the front door, open it and see the Death Chair sitting where I left it.  He didn’t take it..  He almost took it but he brought it back.  Before that... he sat in it.

            What I spoke at Asa before he left was:  “Asa I want you to know that I know that one day out on your back porch your gonna chuck your empty bottle but that time your gonna chuck yourself down that hillock after it.  After about five days someone with find what’s left of you.  After about five weeks I be up here going through your house and the barn too.  I’ll get the chair back.  I’ll get everything.  There’s noting you can do about it.  It’s all mine anyway; all of Her stuff and the chair.  Steal the chair and keep it.  I’ll get it back.  It won’t be that long from now either.”
            I said that to him.
            That’s exactly what happened.

“Ladies all I pray make free
 and tell me how you like your tea.”

(Motto printed on a nineteenth century English Staffordshire transferware child’s plate).

The End