His First Antique Treasure.
It was one of those days where I was trying to cram a whole days worth of work into mere hours in the morning because my oldest son Wyatt was getting out of school early.
I had already decided we would make the most of those precious few hours together that afternoon, just the two of us. A rare occurrence of one-on-one quality time for our family of five these days.
It was a hot afternoon so I thought it would be fun to grab an ice cream at our favorite local spot called the "Frosty Caboose" - an ice cream parlor that is run out of an actual train car, right in front of the working railroad line.
Wyatt picked his favorite, vanilla ice cream with sour gummy worms on top, which really never works out because the coldness of the ice cream just makes those things hard as rocks. But he gets them every time if given the chance.
After our ice cream we popped into the neighboring antique store that I love, promising him we would just poke our heads in for a minute to see if there were any new finds. It was a favorite store of mine, not very large or packed to the brim, but instead thoughtfully curated with one-of-a-kind interesting treasures that you won't find elsewhere.
Two hours later, our dreaded errand had turned into quite the experience for my little guy. The shop owner, who I'd met before, immediately took him around from section to section, giving him a lesson on the old-school rotary phone, teaching him to use a metal "clicker" toy, and his favorite, letting him hammer on an old railroad nail that he wedged into a vice (and later giving it to him as a treasure to keep, on the house).
As I walked around with him myself, gathering my own little stash of treasures, he instantly made a B-line to put his hands on a little box of vintage Checkers that was sitting upon a metal shelf in the very back of the store. I don't know what it was about the box that intrigued him, especially given the size and low-key nature of this piece among all the other large treasures around us that day. I also don't know if he knew exactly what it was until further inspection. I explained to him what they were, he knew the game of course, and that it was a great little set in wonderful condition and with a good color too. Without a second thought he knew that he just couldn't live without this little box of Checkers.
"Please Mom, can I pleeeeease buy this one?" As any mom of a 5-year-old can attest, this is an all-too-common request that usually involves some sort of toy or sugared candy. But in this moment all I could think was how proud I was that he had made this connection, that he had this same desire that I have (all too often) when I come across a vintage treasure of my own. This was his very first antique and now I knew he too would have the bug.
I remember popping into so many countless antique and thrift stores during my own childhood, sometimes bored but the more and more we went into the more interested I became. My first treasure was a little blue and white ceramic thimble, which sparked a whole collection of thimbles that I displayed in my room on a white wicker tray on my nightstand shelf. For a time I collected stamps, the secretaries from my Dad's corporate office would clip and save the best ones and bundle them up for me to look through. Later in life I went through a shabby chic phase, finally settling into my own vibe of one-of-a-kind pieces. When I see it, I know it.
I inspected the box and the little checker pieces inside. There was no actual checkerboard to go with them, I explained, but he couldn't care less. He had to have them. I wanted him to know that condition mattered and that it was good sometimes to just go with your gut when picking a treasure like this. "What will you do with them?" I inquired. Yes, of course, they are for his room. Well I see nothing wrong with that at all. How much would they cost? A good price I insisted as we walked towards the register together.
He carried the box up to the shop owner, who was now like an old friend of his, and placed them next to a pile of old books, a used paint brush and a few metal kitchenware pieces I had accumulated during my trip around the shop. I let Wyatt pay, with cash, and the man gave him his own little plastic bag to carry his treasure home in. He got to keep the change for his piggy bank, asking about the things I had gotten and what I was going to do with my own treasures, beaming with pride and joy over his very first find.
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