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Yesterday’s treasures

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I like antique shops. I spent a good share of my recent vacation in out-of-state antique stores — quaint, out-of-the-way places in the South that held a myriad of memories from an area I truly love. (Don’t ask me how I was able to fit four, oak dining room chairs in my vehicle on the way home ... not to mention the ones we had to FedEx!)

But I don’t have to go all the way to Nashville, Tenn., to get excited about antiques. While I would hardly consider myself a connoisseur of outdated relics, I enjoy strolling through the aisles and booths in and around Bureau County’s antique shops and taking step after step back in time. It’s fun, and on top of that, it tends to soothe my soul a bit. After all, there’s just something about being surrounded by the past that makes my heart smile.

My home is not filled with a ton of antique furniture, rather an eclectic mix of comfortable pieces that mixes today with yesterday. While the old items that live where I do mix well with newer pieces I own, I don’t mind telling you I often wonder who owned those old antique shop treasures before me. Would they ever have imagined someone would treasure something they regarded as an everyday item? I don’t know.

If you’ve strolled the aisles and booths of establishments that specialize in yesterday’s treasures, no doubt you’ve also heard yourself utter things like ...

• “Oh, I remember this.”

• “My grandma had one just like this.”

• “Gosh, I sold this at a garage sale a few years ago for a dollar.”

• “Wow! I had one just like this when I was a kid. I wonder whatever happened to it.”

While there are always tons of items I like at antique shops, you won’t ever see me on an episode of “Hoarders.” Instead, I tend to be very choosy, opting for only select items that really fit into what I already collect. While I have a great passion for old dishes, they have to be really something special — not necessarily expensive, but something I really like. And they have to be useable. I don’t like to buy dishes that only live in my buffet. I want to use them, enjoy them. For instance, I started a collection of egg plates many years ago, and consequently, a family dinner doesn’t go by without me pulling one of my many old egg plates out and filling them with deviled eggs. Quite frankly, I’m really not a deviled egg enthusiast, but I just like the plates. Duh!

There’s other stuff I like — sugar and creamers, Wallace Nutting prints, old tablecloths, leaded glass, old books ...

But there’s one particular item I have never bought, yet I find them fascinating. Old postcards. I could probably sit for hours and sort through the boxes of postcards most antique shops sell. While I could care less about the picture on the front or the stamp on the back, what attracts me to them are the messages — usually written in a beautiful, long-hand script, by strangers I’ll never know to strangers who have long passed out of this world.

I read those words — many of them heartfelt sentiments, and I have to wonder why a family member didn’t keep that postcard as a memory. How did it end up in an antique store? It’s the same thing with old photographs of families, babies — staring stoically at a camera. Shouldn’t someone have wanted to hang on to those?

I guess my point to this rambling is that it’s fun to take a step or two back in time now and then. It reminds us of how life used to be — easier, simpler, yet also without what we refer to today as modern conveniences.

But just remember ... someday what we have now will also line the shelves of those antique shops ... and people will browse the aisles and booths and dream about a day long ago, when life was easier, simpler ... aaahhh, the age of antiquity.

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