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.
“COME OUT HERE MAN-nah COME OUT WHILE IT’S STILL COLD”.
“It ain’t COLD and I ain’t COMING OUT.” replied Man-nah
“COME OUT AND MAKE THE DEAL. I GOT YOU A DEAL TODAY!”
“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”.