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.

treasures found in my travels on memorial day weekend at smithfield barn

So, I told you all about the Smithfield Barn on 425 Little Conestoga, right? How many of you took my advice and checked them out this past Friday, Saturday, and Sunday?  If you didn’t, you’ll have to wait until the end of June to do so.

We went yesterday.  I love the Smithfield Barn because the folks who run it are real pickers.  There is a little bit of everything, but you have to be willing to dig.  I circled through the barn a couple of times yesterday before I saw my treasures:

  • a leather box of unknown origin, just pretty;
  • some terrific vintage wooden spoons;
  • and a fabulous hand-made quilt

I got great deals, and no, I am not telling you what I paid – if you go to the barn, you can negotiate on your own.  I will tell you what, with places like this, if you don’t go in guns a blazing with attitude there is often some wiggle room on select items.  But if you insultingly low ball them, you deserve what you get.

I love the quilt.  I am a vintage textile queen as you can see from the 1950’s table topper that provided the background to the spoons and the box.  That was probably all of $5 at St. David’s Church Fair a couple of years ago.

Some people can only handle new, I know people who have to re-do the furniture every few years like Barbie’s Dream House.  That is their style, certainly not mine.  I like objects that tell a story, or might tell a story.

And as much as I love to photograph barns, I love even more to root around in them.  My friend Barb can tell you about a trip to Vermont where we made a side pilgrimage to New Hampshire and I had a swell time rooting around in a giant barm owned by a New England farmer who picked antiques and collectibles on the side.  I negotiated some fabulous pink tea cups for her that day that she still has.  But heck, I used to go to Adamstown, PA with my parents before it was Trendy Wendy to do so.

The barn had some cool stuff yesterday including a Hoosier cabinet and a pair of dressers  that were first half of the 20th century – rounded and kind of cool.  Not sure how old the cabinet was and you have to be careful when looking at them, because there are kits out there to make them again.  The cabinet looked newly painted and it was bright white, so not for me.  But it was fun to look at.  There were some terrific chairs there yesterday and some fun lamps worth re-wiring, and if you like slot cars and matchbox cars?  This would have been your barn!

Anyway, I am glad I decided to ditch the garage sale tour and go to the barn instead.

And remember, if you like this blog, you can nominate it for a Blue Ribbon Blogger Award with Country Living Magazine.

Winners will be featured in their December/January 2013 issue and will also  attend a luncheon in their honor in New York City on November 13, 2012. Nominations are open from May 15, 2012 until July 29, 2012. Please only nominate  once.

Read more: Blue Ribbon Blogger Awards – 2012 Blog Awards – Country Living.

The Gladwyne PA Memorial Day Parade – if you like traditional, old-fashioned Memorial Day Parades complete with antique fire trucks and horses, this is your parade!

Anyway, enjoy the rest of your long weekend.  I got up and got my watering done early, it’s going to be a hot one today.  In part I feel like Farmer MacGregor because some Peter Rabbit ate my baby lettuce this weekend. And I don’t know about you, but this crazy weather and no winter has many plants of mine ahead of schedule.

See ya!  And Happy Memorial Day!