The Old Antiques Store
We drove by the old antiques store last month. We drive by it when we are in that area. The old store is not on the main road but is just a tenth mile off of it. This time we stopped and I took a photograph of it. The store has been abandoned and looked like the photograph for at least twenty-five years. It has been thirty-five years this past October since I did business there. It looked less overgrown and abandoned back then but still had the same "old store" appearance.
Today is August 15th, 2016. I last did business at the store in October, 1979. I went to the store for the first time in October of 1966. I was twelve. I went to the store with my soon-to-be Boy Scout assistant scoutmaster. I was a cub scout, soon to be a boy scout. The assistant scoutmaster had interviewed a group of us prior to our joining his boy scout troop. At that interview, my interest in "antiques" had been voiced under "hobbies". This assistant scoutmaster had a strong interest in antiques too. His interest was more than a hobby. Through a continued conversation about my interest, he offered to take me to the store in the photograph and introduce me to the owner-antiques dealer with whom this scoutmaster did considerable business. We drove there after my dinner, in the dark, on an October school night. We ended up spending hours there. I didn't get home until very late but my mother, who "liked" antiques too, never said anything and seem very pleased that I "had a good time" and "liked antiques". That was my first visit.
Following the directions from my assistant scoutmaster I returned to the antiques store very soon, probably that weekend, WITH my mother. SHE liked the antiques she saw there and we spent hours there. Thereafter we would go to this antiques store every few weeks. 1967 began, I turned thirteen, I joined the boy scout troop and the assistant scoutmaster and I continued our antiques interest exchange. He introduced me to more adult men who "liked antiques". Some of these men knew my mother and that she liked antiques. Along with the men, I met adult women who "liked antiques". Before I knew it I was a member of a little circle of adults who liked antiques, went to this store and were always talking with each other. My interest in antiques expanded avidly and rapidly, helpfully nurtured by these adults. Meanwhile my grandmother had always been an antiques dealer.
Antiques to me at age twelve-turned-thirteen was …finding anything old… anywhere… bringing it home to my bedroom… keeping it… finding out what it was… sort of… and generally having all my other friends think I was weird (unless it was an old rusted rifle or sword). My bedroom filled with this "stuff". I was very protective of my "stuff". My mother never bothered me about my "stuff". I constantly arranged and re-arranged my "stuff" to feature my latest find and… I believe… she was impressed with this management. I never thought I ever found something good and have deeply considered this in hindsight. I believe now that I DID occasionally find something sort of "good" and THAT find… was purloined by my mother to become part of HER "stuff". SHE was constantly… finding anything old and bringing it home TOO, but it took me a few years to realize that "she's serious".
All of this changed one day in the spring of 1967. I had been "turned loose" (my mother's words) by my mother at my uncle's farm with his blessing to "go anywhere you want" and "can have any antiques you find". This was not the first time for this "turned loose" there and… it was a farm with six barn size outbuildings way out in the middle of nowhere and having been built in the 1820's. The setting as just described didn't mean much to me THEN for I considered "these old farms" to be "LIKE THAT" and "normal". The compounding of "this changed one day", unknown even to me, was that MY ability to "find antiques" was "growing leaps and bounds". What started as a nine year old's "curiosity" now blossomed into "THAT'S TOO MUCH WE CANNOT FIT IT IN THE CAR!" gathering processes. As my mother said: "Turned loose".
That day off I went and after several hours of rummaging, retrieving, bringing to show my mother and uncle and leaving in a pile next to the car… I was down on all fours creeping around the bottom of a stairs in an out building and …could just see through the stair crack a "bunch" of "old glass" behind that stairs. I crawled in-under and behind the stairs and retrieved three fruit jars and… skipped them over to the pile after showing them off and receiving just about as much interest in them as I had in them… except that I HAD seen the 1865 dates on the lids of the jars.
The fruit jars rode home, went to my bedroom and …languished. In about a week or so I talked with someone about something and somehow gained inkling that "old fruit jars" were "worth money". I resurrected the three jars, washed the three jars and put them on display… in my room. One jar was called "DEXTER" in print on it's front and this was surrounded by an embossed ring of fruit and vegetables. The other two jars were embossed "FRANKLIN DEXTER FRUIT JAR". After another week I went to the antiques store with my mother. There, in conversation, I told the dealer about my fruit jars. I told him about the one embossed "DEXTER". We left, two weeks went by, we went back and… in conversation… the dealer asked if I wanted to sell the fruit jar embossed "DEXTER". "No." I said "I will pay forty-five dollars for it" he said. My mother's attention was had. MY attention was had. WE agreed to "SELL THE JAR" and "Bring it next weekend". We did. I had forty-five dollars in cash. I still had the other two fruit jars. The dealer didn't want them.
When we were home, later in the school week, my grandmother was visiting and heard the story from my mother. She hunted me down, congratulated me on the sale and asked "What are you going to do with the money?" I knew what I was going to do with it and told her right away that I "know where there is a historical flask I want that costs $65.00 and as soon as I can get another twenty dollars I am going to buy it." My grandmother… and I have never forgotten this… stood looking down at me for a moment and then… saying nothing… opened up her pocket book and gave me a twenty dollar bill.
I bought the flask. I had, until that day, a job as a paper boy delivering newspapers and a job mowing "peoples" lawns. "Peoples" were like my fourth grade teacher and… such. THAT DAY THAT ENDED and I became an "antiques dealer". That was 1967 and I was in seventh grade. I procured my state resale vendors license two years later in 1969 when I was in ninth grade. I have been an antiques dealer… and rare books dealer… ever since I found those fruit jars and sold the one at… the old antiques store.