Thursday, June 21, 2012

HOT! Too Hot For Antiques?

HOT!  Too Hot For Antiques?

            A local heat wave; “nineties”, reminds us to remind the reader that… local antiques pickers picking… are competitive with each other… for the glory of the most skullduggerous, flamboyant, unheard of and MUST BE SUCESSFUL picker’s trade trickery INVENTED and USED… to “buy old junk” that are actually “great antiques”.
            In the heat wave dawn, Baxter left the … local large home supply box store parking lot… with his newly purchased “got a better one” air conditioner “still in the box” “put the (paid in cash) receipt in my shirt pocket” and… drove north away from the coast.  His destination was known to him and he arrived at the mid-Maine farm JUST as the “heat began”.
            Dawn, dew and cool breaths of breeze ceased.  Baxter announced his arrival with “GONNA BE A HOT ONE!” shouted toward the front door.  His work day started “on schedule” at his arrival… just after nine.  “GONNA MAKE YOU A DEAL TODAY MAN-nah”.
            “No you AIN’T.” replied the old and toadish woman from behind the latched screen door. 
            “It ain’t COLD and I ain’t COMING OUT.” replied Man-nah
            “You ain’t got no junk man DEAL for me today.”
            “AIN’T JUNK!  Come out and see.  IT’S JUST what you WANT TODAY”
            “You and your old junking is not for me TODAY.  IT’S TOO HOT!”
            “Come on Man-nah:  OUT.  Peek in my truck for what I got for you.”
The latch snapped, the screen door opened and the short, rotund, small ankles, puffy wrists, pinned hair, heat sticky and rubber goulashes wearing woman head of household …followed Baxter to the back of his truck where he folded the tailgate down and presented by gesture… his brand new air conditioner in its box.
            “What’s that?” said Man-nah.
            “AIR CONDITIONER!  FOR YOU.” said Baxter
            “Air conditioner?  For me?” said Man-nah
            “Where am I gonna put that?”
            “Right there.” said Baxter pointing his finger to a second floor window at the center of the house.
            “That’s your bedroom ain’t it?
            “Mine.  Yes.  WHAT IS THIS?”
            “I’m gonna put this BRAND NEW I JUST BOUGHT IT AN HOUR AGO …I paid for it here’s the receipt… AIR CONDITIONER up there in YOUR BEDROOM RIGHT NOW and then…”
            “AND THEN WHAT!”
            “And then we’re going into your old barn out back and pay me for it”.
            “Pay for it?  IN MY BARN?”
            “With all your junk in there”
            “THAT AIN’T JUNK.  It’s ANTIQUES.  YOU know that you scalawag.”
            “LET’S GO” said Baxter picking up the boxed air conditioner, a heavy load… and walking away toward the front door.  Man-nah followed, passed him and held the door open.  In they went and directly up the stairs into the bedroom then over to the window.  Baxter’s jackknife opened the box, he opened the window, the plastic wrap came off and the instruction packet was handed to Man-nah with a “Here better keep these” from Baxter.  Baxter lifted up the air conditioner and he “JUST FITS LIKE I THOUGHT IT WOULD” into the tiny window.
            Baxter squeaked it into its final place, locked the window down on it and turned to Man-nah.  “Plug it in.” he said.

            “Right there.” She said pointing to an outlet below the window.  Baxter did.  He pushed the ON button.  The air conditioner came on.  Cool air rushed out.  Baxter put his hand in it.  Man-nah watched and then put HER hand in the cool air.  She looked at Baxter.  “Oh Baxter.  You REALLY DID get this for me didn’t you.” she said.
            “Now close this room up and we’re going out to the barn to pay for it” Baxter said.  “This room will be all chilled down when we get back.”

            And that’s what they did; go to the barn.  Baxter had already been in the barn several times.  He’d bought.  And bought some more a second time.  And more again.  Each time Man-nah would sell “some old things” and “I’m KEEPING THAT” others.  Baxter kept hunting, finding and trying.  “OK today” she said as he showed her old tools, the old farm signs, old barrels, old chairs, an old potato basket and the old wash tubs.  “Oh all right” she said on the pewter pitcher.  Baxter sighed to himself.  He’d tried to “spring that three times before”.  When they got to the 1930’s Old Town, Maine canoe in the rafters, Man-nah said “Not yet Baxter.  Not today.”

            Baxter moved his last “swaps”… for that was the actual deal; a swap… outside.  Then the two went back inside and up to the bedroom.  An ice box blast of cold air greeted them when they opened the bedroom door.  “Oh Baxter!” Man-nah said again.
            “What would you take for that canoe?” queried Baxter after a few moments of cooled room conversation.
            Man-nah looked at Baxter and said nothing.  Then she folded her arms, dead eyed him and said “New washer and dryer”.
            “OH YOU GREEDY WOMAN!” said Baxter.
            The Freeman Porter, Westbrook, Maine pewter table pitcher was the best antique of Baxter’s swap.  He knew what it was.  Man-nah knew too.  It was best form classic Maine pewter and best grade New England 19th century pewter.  Condition was perfect, the maker’s mark very clear.  The “Maine pewter book” shows a similar pitcher and the mark.  Its sale easily paid for the air conditioner.  Bragging, Baxter said he showed us all how to buy antiques on “the hottest day of the year”.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Lane Cooper's Old Store

Lane Cooper’s Old Store

While Lane Cooper doddles in my yard expostulating upon his commercial power over the other local pickers based on his old school knowledge and the commercial actions he takes within that local picker commerce… the other local pickers… do not stop picking.
They do not think of stopping and they do not think of Lane.  They think of finding, procuring and selling “old things found in old houses”.  Or barns.  Or sheds.
Or old stores… long closed and padlocked shut… that once offered local commerce to those passing by a crossroad corner of small rural towns… in the “middle of nowhere”.

In fact Lane Cooper actively hunts for these sealed time capsules; locked, shuttered windows, overgrown by brush, paint pealed, leaky roof and soon to fall down.  He begins by traveling to remote and tiny crossroad towns.  Spying to his satisfaction a derelict to target, he roams the crossroad corner in an ever wider circle of door knocking inquiry of “THAT ONE THERE WHO OWNS THAT ONE THAT STORE I WANT TO TALK TO THEM.”

He is generally successful for the first contact usually sends him closer while the second contact directs even better so the third contact responds “Yes I do” to his “THAT ONE THAT ONE THERE THE OLD STORE WHO OWNS IT SEEMS FULL OF OLD JUNK THAT ONE WHO OWNS IT I WANT TO TALK TO THEM!” pattering verbal pantomime never ceasing even as he “THANK YOU” and turns to walk across the street to the house of “My brother does he lives over there yes he’s home just go over and see him”.

            I point out at this juncture that Lane, like Baxter, is very clean, very polite, combed, shaven, crisply dressed in traditional Maine men work clothes and… smiles as he talks.  “Actually can be charming” has been said of him confidentially by well regarded women with influence in local Maine communities.

He also speaks Maine junkman jargon fluently.  In fact, with his linguistic skills, he should be considered one of the innovators of that language.  For example his ritual purloining of old ceramics purchased as “that” “doggie” or “kitty cat” “dishes” would leave most readers chuckling to themselves later that evening as it would be acknowledged “to have worked”.

Once across the street and… relentlessly verbal battering the brother, the trio (for Lane has brought a “driver” and “fetch me man” as usual) is seen crossing the street and then disappearing to the rear of the old store.  Nothing may be seen for a short interval but suddenly the “fetch me man” appears carrying some objects that he puts in the back of… AND on the front seat of… the pickup truck the two pickers …strategically parked in the overgrown grass beside the store.  This man goes back inside… and comes back outside… carrying more “old junk”.  The truck fills up including an old chest of drawers… with those drawers taken out… “humped” across the grass by the “fetch me man” …alone.

When the truck is “almost full”… this procession of the “fetch me man” ceases.  Another shorter nothing seen interval passes.  Then the trio emerges from the rear of the store.  The trio stands before the loaded truck parked in the grass.  A short conversation takes place.  There is a final handshake.  The owner-brother walks back across the street of the deserted crossroads.  Lane and his man drive away.

In my yard nearly two hours later that included Lane and his man eating lunch somewhere … in the middle of nowhere… Lane’s banter is again relentless and abundantly punctuated with his commercial ringmaster chant of “GIVE ME SUMP-THUN”.  “WE” explore his load of treasure.  I purchase what I can get away from him.  Prices fly high, are counter offered low, bantered back up and barrel head cashed … to a satisfactory conclusion for everyone?  I feel everyone just gets exhausted and “I AM GIVING YOU THAT:  TOO LITTLE” gives in.

Today I purchase the Seven Up bottles first.  Then a book.  Then the license plates.  Then… bartering hard, the drum, a print, a chest of drawers and the “BROADWAY NEW YORK NEW YORK NEW YORK” perfume bottle.  Eventually the painting after promising “it is NOT 17th CENTURY” and “don’t need to call them” (the largest international auction house you can think of).  Finally the beer bottle salt and pepper shakers off the dash board.

Lane is deceptively careful with his actual purchasing.  He only buys “so much”; “THIS MUCH”.  THIS ACTION… is a confidence action on his part.  He “got in”, “bought” and “is in now” so … “don’t push it”.  He’ll go back very soon; as soon as he “feels” he can.  He will mine the old store, using cash instead of a pick, until its vein runs out.  Always smiling.  Always relentless with banter.  He knows the big secret; “second visit” is always better then the first.  The brother will recognize Lane and remember “all the cash he got from the junk in there”.
“There’s plenty of it in there too.” Lane added.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

James Hutton Sells an Old Pitcher

James Hutton Sells an Old Pitcher

            James Hutton does not willing accept that Baxter will dash around a flea market at dawn and then spend the rest of the day cultivating the owners of the oldest abandoned building he can find in a …usually successful effort… to access that old structure and purchase “any old junk” he finds to be of interest inside of that …“so bad I almost wouldn’t DARE go up the stairs” (but he did) … decayed relic.
            James Hutton does not willingly accept that Peggy Abbott can be in the right place at the right time when one of his long practiced upon formal antiquarian customers has her antiques collection (where he has “placed things” for decades) crack under the stress of its future… when pitted against the passing of the family’s generational baton… and have Peggy turn up in my yard with a “plate that’s gold” (his words).
            For each of these two local antiques dealers he will promptly soar to a high in the sky perch and “watch”.  Should one of these fellow travelers stray into the open toting an unsecured prize “of merit”, he will descend and purloin as one hawk steals from another.  He will also descend attend… the rumored “sale of my fresh picks” of a third local dealer, Lane Cooper, TWO DAYS before “Those others think the sale starts”.  Each of these named antiquarian locals may have their previous posts reviewed by clicking their labels.
            Hutton sits and grumbles in a plastic lawn chair after looking at the charger I bought from Peggy.  “I bought that… let’s see… in about 1979 say… at a Withington sale (Dick Withington summer auction) and sold it to her.  That’s my charger” he says.
            “Write me a check.” I say.
            He does.  And still sits.  And still grumbles.
            After a bit… “I’VE BEEN OVER TO LANES” he says… to change our summery seated outdoor antiquarian repose.
            “Did he let you in?”
            “Of course.  I just WENT in.  He had to come out to go in and I was already in there buying”.
            “He let you?”
            “He doesn’t CARE.  Doesn’t know either.  Come down and look”.
            I was now VERY interested for this hawk had Lane’s “my fresh picks” fresh picked BONES in his car TRUNK?
            He did too.

             There was some clutter… with the astral lamp on top.  “Cornelius Philadelphia 1842”.  Electrified.  Wrong shade.  “It can be yours.”  And was.  Nominally.  “He wouldn’t know an astral lamp even if he broke the shade” he said when I acted on the nominal price.
            Then I purchased more of Hutton’s “purloined from” Cooper’s sale.  Hutton was satisfied he had regained my attention… after his attention by me had been assailed by his local competition.  “One more.” He says and went up to the front seat of the car. Wrapped in a towel that he quickly took off, he hands me a small c.1800 Liverpool black transfer ware pitcher.  “Its cracked of course” he says.
            “Who cares” I say.  “It’s great”.

            “There’s more too.  Where that came from.  The lamp came from there too.  He took me by the house.  We’re going in after his sale.  I bought everything he got out of there so…  Can he EVER keep his mouth shut?
            “He doesn’t know what that is?”
            “Right.  He just kept say “GIVE ME SUMP-THUN!”  And you did."
            “How do you know that?”
            “I buy from Lane." 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Baxter's Winter Clean-Out Story

Baxter's Winter Estate Clean-Out Story:
Which Ball? Ain't Here.

            This is Baxter’s story of an estate clean-out he “got into last winter” (March).  It is recorded as spoken.  Please see proceeding post for the prelude to this post.  Dilly is Baxter’s small doggie who travels with him.  Baxter credits Dilly with substantial verbal commentary and truck cab chatter when they “work together”.  WHICH BALL? is Baxter’s name for a younger neophyte dealer who fancies himself the well educated and world savvy better of Baxter.  Baxter knows this and… knows that WHICH BALL? does NOT know he knows this.  He calls him “WHICH BALL?” because “he won’t make a move unless he’s TRIPLE sure he’s SAFE”.  The name is a play on words fingering character (“having balls”) based on the antique called a “witch ball”.  A witch ball is a desirable with early American glass collectors blown glass ball used as a cover on glass jars in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.  Baxter sold WHICH BALL? a real witch ball when they first met after exhaustively explaining the whole history of witch balls to him.  Right after the sale Baxter caught WHICH BALL? playing expert by repeating the exhaustive history to a potential customer using, in Baxter’s value structure “my information without permission”.  Baxter’s nickname of WHICH BALL? appeared right away …and stuck.  WHICH BALL? cannot stand the nickname.  Here is Baxter’s Maine winter estate clean-out story as spoken:

            “I am not going to be spending all that much time trying to elaborate to you why Dilly spent the day saying as to how “IT’S A DAMN GOOD THING WHICH BALL? AIN’T HERE!” That house clean out up in Auburn was just like the “I FIGURED” and with Dilly as my shotgun I took his insight and went with it.  YOU are TOO MORAL “enough” so STAND CLEAR.

            “Women.  First off I’m sick of ‘em being antique busy and second is when they go INTO the antique business and start trying run over the rabbits like me that are already IN THE ROAD of it.  Here we had Ms. Classic, her husband dragged in and HIS brother dragged in TOO.  Ball caps, big red trucks, trailers and Ms. Classic’s SUV.  All just through the car wash.

            “I arrived early (on time), backed up to the badly (snow)plowed out barn door at the end of the driveway.  I let Dilly out and then put him down on top of our pre-planned secret weapon; an unopened box of 40 lawn and leaf bags.  And waited.  I stared up and down the “LOOKS 1880’s” house and denoted my private assertion that the extending buildings in the back “dated 1850”.  No need to tell them genius that.

            “They arrived.  I’d already been on a “walk through”.  They “WE CALLED YOU IN” to look a some piece of crude painting up in the front of the house to find out if it “IS VALUABLE?” “NO I said to myself… but “OH, OH YES …IT…IS… GOOD” to them …who be then finally admitting that they will be “KEEPING IT”.  So after my look around I volunteered to “HELP” “CLEAH OUT”… “maybe some stuff”… “you don’t want”.  This was once I determined that the back buildings section “was old” and they; the clean out team, didn’t know antique anything.  Especially about “clean out” an “old house”.  So THERE on clean-out DAY I be.

            “We divided out work.  THEY, at my suggestion, would TEAM LOAD the GOOD STUFF from THE HOUSE into & onto their trucks and trailers while I “start in the barn” “cleaning it up” “I’LL PUT ANYTHING GOOD AT THE FRONT and… bag up the rest for the dump”.  I did not mention that them bags would be stacked like tight packed hot dog buns in the back of my ALREADY POSITIONED truck.  “Yep” I said when THEY SAID “GOOD PLAN” for they was some sure for that “GOOD STUFF” “in the house”.  That left me working toward them all day with only the basement “inaccessible”.  The attic was N-G (no good) for the last owners were “neat and tidy” in that room.  “Yep” again and “some quick” were we (Dilly and I) in the dark behind an “open a crack” barn door with no one watching us.

            “THAT WOMAN!” and I’d watched her REAL CLOSE out in that barn during the walk through.  Her glasses didn’t work well out there and she never bent over “to look” AT ANYTHING even ONCE.  Fact is she barely touched anything and had so much trouble on the barn stairs that UPSTAIRS she pretty much just turned around in a circle and LEFT.  But she was crafty so we (Dilly and I) knew WE had to CRAFT.  We did.

            “About an hour in and seven trash bags “in the back” I said to Dilly “this has got to be the 20th good pantry box I’ve had to THROW OUT in my career just to get it.  ALL HE’D SAY is “GOOD THING WHICH BALL? AIN’T HERE!”.  Then I set an old wringer washer up at the front of the barn in “the good stuff” pile.  Across from it was a “THE STUFF” pile of old wood, glass, tin and the et al the “could be good?”. “I DON’T KNOW”.  No need to be too smart when your working for free with GENIUS.  And they were sweaty and hot and only checked me when they smoked on the porch and SHE “came and looked” and actually did touch the wringer and say “This IS good!”.  Then I got the thumbs up from her on the “GOOD IDEA!” for the lawn and leaf bags into the truck for the “take right to the dump” that came from MY LIPS.  They never even thought to notice how tight them bags were packed in there let alone a “LOOK INSIDE” a “one”.

            So my end went the real smooth but they FUSSED and had to get tools and scratched the wall and split the door off as all that GOOD furniture with the beds and mattresses “COME OUT” on their end with the smokes and drinks and Ms. CLASSIC getting “MIKE D” (MacDonald’s) for everyone but:  “No thanks I got lunch in the truck” I said.  They all looked a little ragged by one and were FULL OF IT by three so “LOCK IT UP FOR THE DAY” and LEAVE.

            Now I had that barn, which weren’t that big, DONE.  I “DONE” the woodshed.  I’d “COME THROUGH” the shed to the kitchen.  I left the house for them.  When they were eating, I went in the basement and “SHINED AROUND” (shined a flashlight around).  Aside from a wooden bowl in old red, I walked from it.  The bowl I put on my head like a helmet, walked upstairs and walked back to the shed and… put it in a trash bag.  No one noticed.  Except for Dilly who KEPT SAYING “IT’S A GOOD THING WHICH BALL? AIN’T HERE!