All of my life, or at least for the portion that I was able to walk, I have been a garbage picker. In my mind a garbage picker is kind of like the American Pickers, only less “picky”, not as wealthy, and nobody wants to watch us on TV.
My first “pick” was a very large pink stuffed animal. I think it was a poodle. I found it in someone’s garbage can when I was five and brought it home to show my Mom. She was not impressed and more than a little bit upset that it was full of ants. There were consequences to my picking at such a young age and I nonchalantly accepted them. Whenever my Mom would call me in from playing and yelled, “Roxanne!” the response from the neighborhood kids would be, “She’s in the garbage can!”. We “pickers” put up with a lot.
Be that as it may, I have found amazing things at that hallowed ground called the curb. Things like a big beautiful silk ficus tree in a clay pot, a bathroom shelf, a book shelf, a couple of dressers, and an area rug. (It belonged to my neighbor. I did unroll the area rug to make sure it wasn’t smelly or gross. I do have my standards.) I’ve also found a children’s basketball net, which I carried home slung over my shoulder while walking my dog. I admit, while carrying this I could hear my Grandma Moon’s voice yelling at me from a portal of heaven, “Shanty Irish, Roxanne, Shanty Irish!”.
One of my best picks was a beautiful lowboy dresser that I painted and refinished. It now proudly sits in my entryway and receives frequent compliments. So what, if it still contained some of the previous owner’s socks and underwear when I brought it home? Though my children were grossed out, those items were easily tossed and by the time I was finished with it, both of my girls wanted it.
Recently, I have found another outlet for my proclivity towards other people’s debris. It’s called “junking”. I have also discovered somewhat of a junking kindred spirit in my daughter-in-law, Kylene. A few months ago, she and I visited a wonderful antique/junk place not far from us. Then, we found out they have an antique/junk extravaganza! We packed our lunch, and a very sweet, very patient friend named Cheryl, and off we went! If not for Cheryl, we would have been lost. There were over 800 vendors! It was amazing! Since Cheryl had been to a couple of these before, she became our Senior Navigator. She and Ky worked together to make this the experience of a lifetime for me. I will be forever grateful.
I found it in one of the first vendor’s tents we went to. I had no idea what it was, but it called me. It was very heavy and not particularly attractive and I couldn’t tell if it was some sort of a brass vase or an urn, but there was something about it. And then I found the tag.
If you don’t know by now, I love history. I particularly love military history. (I don’t know why.) The Civil War and World War II are particular favorites, though I am learning to appreciate WWI more and more.
I was more than a little excited when I talked to the vendor to find out where and how they found it. Of course we started chatting, of course I told her I am a history teacher, of course she could tell I was slightly passionate, and of course, I couldn’t afford it. I thanked her for the information and placed it back on the table.
She quickly came over and told me that her brother was a history teacher and she had a special place in her heart for them. She’d sell it to me for $40. She didn’t take credit cards and I didn’t have enough cash. I told her I’d wait and see. Cheryl told me if it was still there at the end, and if I still wanted it, we’d pool our monies for it. As I said, Cheryl is a good friend.
We walked the entire place and saw nothing else like it. I decided I still wanted it, so we went back. Just as I was walking up to the tent, I saw a woman holding “my” vase and talking about it to two men. They looked serious. I stood there, staring at them and silently praying that they would leave. They didn’t leave, but they put it down and started looking at other things. I wasn’t sure if I should grab it or not, but quickly decided, “You snooze, you lose!” I grabbed it. I did apologize to one of the men that was still standing nearby. I’m passionate, but I still try to be nice.
As you can tell, I brought it home. Proving that one man’s junk is truly another man’s treasure; but in the end, like everything, it’s really not that big a deal!