Old Things

There are two kinds of people in this world – pack rats and scrupulous cleaners. I am related to both. Honestly though, I have been known to show pack rat tendencies. I like to think that I am fulfilling an archeologist’s dream when sometime in the future he stumbles upon my “cache.” Therefore I like old things, known more eloquently as “antiques.”

Some people collect old things like furniture, carpentry tools (had an orthodontist who did that – impressive collection and he even used them!), cars and appliances. I find those interesting and probably if I had a place or a budget for them, I, too, would acquire.

However, my interest in old things tends toward books, lots and lots of books, and sometimes china and textiles. Old handkerchiefs and tablecloths are fun to collect and cheap, too.

Objects to me are a solid way to connect to the past. Using the dishes that Great-grandmother Ethel set each Thanksgiving keeps the flow of history going. Sopping up your brow with a dainty hanky embroidered by Aunt Gertrude fifty years ago keeps the continuum of history on its course. Some things change, but the basics stay the same.

Waste not, want not

Things were better made in the past. The last fifteen years have seen shoddiness in foreign manufactured goods seep onto the market. Items that are purposely made to last about two weeks with no use and then fall apart right at the crucial moment. It’s a sad testament to consumer expectations and manufacturing standards; sad also that in an uncertain economy we can’t even afford to bypass the trash and buy quality.

Rummage through a garage sale sometime and you begin to see the things that have stood the test of time. They may be dirty, but after some cleaning they are still serviceable.

My Depression era grandparents would have shuddered at the wastefulness of the present day. “Making do” was the catchphrase well into World War II. If something broke, you could fix it. Admittedly this is more difficult with the digital technology around us. One must have a degree or a lot of time on one’s hands to try to fix a broken iPod.

Old things remind us of where we’ve been. They also show us that our standards are slipping and that we need to tighten up. Learn what a well-made product is and when you can afford it, buy quality. Buy just what you need.

As one of my favorite movies quotes goes, “More isn’t always better Linus. Sometimes it’s just more.” (Sabrina)

– Amanda Stiver