vintage memories

Yesterday I wrote a post about my Smithfield Barn score (a $5 vintage patent leather purse from the 1950′s or 1960′s with the linen lining in pristine condition.)  I posted a photo on my Facebook wall and what I got in response has provoked this post.

What happened was, one photo of one old pockie caused a few of my friends to share stories of seeing similar bags.  It was very special and very cool, and I thought about it and not only want to share what two said but the underlying reason as to why we might like certain vintage things – as  in not just because something is collectible.

My friend Regina wrote:

I had one just like this once.  It was my Mom’s. I think she gave it to us for dress up. Happy memory. 🙂

My friend Karen said:

My great grandmom had a “pocketbook” like this. Ahhh the memories of sitting in church next to her, opening and closing the bag, peeking to see what was inside…I could always count on a stick of doublemint gum being there for me. I miss her so much, she was such a refined “lady.” I can still remember the gentle fragrance of palmolive soap on her skin, her white gloves and the pretty hankies she carried in that bag.

How cool were these memories being shared?  Of course other friends reading this now are thinking “which Regina and which Karen” because I know them in multiples, but macht nichts or matters not.  What matters are these amazing memories. 

And then it hit me.  Why do we like certain vintage items over others?  How many of them have distinct roots in pleasant memories?

I know that is so for me.

My mother has a love of Tole trays,  Heisey glass, oil lamps and old linens.  I have so many memories of going to flea markets, estate sales, and even garage sales growing up when she was on the hunt for things.   Old linens remind me of her and her mother because I have distinct memories of them ironing them.  They both loved the look of crisp, pressed linen and when I see an old tablecloth I can almost hear the sizzle of the steam iron and the sweet smell of spray starch.

Pie birds.  I have the traditional blackbird, and yet another thing that reminds me of this grandmother.  She was a crazy amazing pie baker.  She also liked milk glass, and while I never recall her having chickens, I thought of her when I found my chickens at the Smithfield Barn.

Wooden spoons.  Every great home cook I have ever known has had some fabulous old wooden spoons.  When I see them, I think of a few people and the fabulous things they prepared for guests in their kitchens.  Without expensive food processors and other gadgets.

I also just love looking at this stuff at sales and markets.  I also spent many a weekend up in places like Adamstown looking, looking, looking and at antique shows.  My father always said it is just as important to educate your eye and not just buy to buy something.  That and never buy at most antique shows because the show prices are on.

The vintage  pocketbooks do remind me sometimes of things my mother had when I was little….and oh my she had cool stuff during this era including a pair of impossibly high-heeled  paisley high-heeled pumps that I can still see in my head to this day they were THAT fabulous!  BUT that is not the only reason.  Vintage purses are something in fashion I just like.  The designs, the fabrics, the leathers, the structure, and the quality.

A cool vintage purse, much like a piece or two of vintage jewelry can really take a look from ho-hum nice to interesting and fun.  I will even carry one of these bags with jeans.  And they  do have a memory I haven’t shared: the hunt for these cool vintage bags is something I do with one of my best friends named Barb.  From the Pennywise Thrift Shop to Second Hand Rose annually at St. David’s Fair to the Smithfield Barn, whenever I see vintage purses, LOL I always think of her. That and pink tea cups.

Old books.  Old books are old friends, and not only do I purchase them because I want to read them, or have and want to own a copy of something again, I have a memory.  That memory is of a rainy Saturday here and there spent with my father in what were the dusty stacks of the Owl Bookstore at Bryn Mawr College.  The bookstore is no more, but wow do I have great memories of that place, not just being there with my father.  The place was run by the most amazing older ladies, volunteers.

For me, adding vintage or gently used items to my decor or whatever is not just about saving some money or a “look”.  A lot of times it is about the memory attached.  Another example is my late cousin Suzy.  Her living room reminded me of the grandmother we shared mixed with my mother.  Memories influence us.

Do you have memories attached to anything vintage you own or collect? Tell me about it.