Catch and Release

I never set out to become a vendor of vintage and antique finds. As newlyweds, my husband and I lived in Savannah, and our tiny little attic apartment was sparsely furnished with cast-off pieces my mother, a real estate agent, had squirrelled away from houses she’d sold. We were living on my pitiful salary as a newspaper reporter and banking Mr. Mary Kay’s, because we knew he would be going back to school for an engineering degree. So I started junking in Savannah, going to estate sales and junk shops on Saturday mornings, scooping up little treasures that appealed.I made friends with dealers I met along the way, and they gave me hints about antiques and vintage stuff, and I got hooked. In a bad way. When we moved to Atlanta I continued my junking habits. At one point, when Katie was a baby, I attended an auction in our neighborhood on a weekly basis, taking her along in her stroller while I indulged in what was becoming a passion. Dealers befriended me, and I learned a little more. The dealers running estate sales came to know me, and eventually, one of them asked me if I was a dealer. “Not a dealer, just a user,” I said. Raising an eyebrow, she replied sadly, “yeah, that’s how we all get started.” It only took me about 30 years to finally admit my addiction, and take a booth to sell my vintage wares at Seaside Sisters on Tybee Island. Three years into it, I still love “piddling around” with old stuff. People always ask me why I don’t rent a space in an antique mall in Atlanta, where, after all, we live full-time. And I tell ’em–because if I did that, I’d never write another book. I’d just piddle away all my time playing with junk. This way, I junk in “moderation”–hah! Try telling that to Mr. Mary Kay. We go down to The Breeze Inn around once a month–except during the summer, when the house stays rented, and that’s when I re-stock my booth at Seaside Sisters. One of the best things about junking is when you can finally manage to practice what I’ve come to call “catch and release.” I really never buy anything I don’t love, and I very rarely buy anything incredibly rare or pricey. So I’ve gotten a little promiscuous with my junking. I’ll buy something, take it home, live with it a few weeks or months or years even, and then, eventually, when the infatuation wears off, I’ll rotate it down to my booth and hope that somebody else will fall in love too. Because then, I’ll have money to spend on my next great love affair.

Yesterday was a fine day to indulge my love of vintage, strolling around Scott’s Antique Market. A beautiful sunny day, and the place was packed to the rafters. I strolled and munched–tiny little cinnamon donuts! I ran into old friends and laughed and chatted with dealers. And I bought a few things. Scouting around the outdoor vendors at the South building, I ran into a man who’d bought out an estate in Columbus, Georgia.

Little League jersey

The deceased had been a Little League coach for many, many years, and the dealer had a great pile of vintage ’50s kid’s baseball shirts and pants. Not the yucky polyester baseball jerseys Boomerange Boy wore during his 18 years of baseball, but the good stuff, wonderful, heavy cotton flannel uniforms, with real machine embroidery for the team sponsors, and real ground-in Georgia red clay. I had to bring a couple of those home with me!

Popcorn megaphone

The coach must have run the concession stand at his ballpark, because he’d left behind a huge stash of old waxed cardboard soft drink cups, and popcorn containers that can become a megaphone when the popcorn’s gone. And he was a Shriner too, because there was also a stack of vintage circus posters.

Circus poster

I chatted with the dealer and enjoyed the sunshine, and moseyed around inside, until I found a stack of vintage Jadeite plates. I was lovin’ Jadeite before Martha Stewart discovered it and jacked up prices, so I was thrilled to find a stack of 8 Lotus Blossom salad plates at a great price.

Jadeite Lotus Blossom plate

Hmm. Do I let ’em stay with me for a while–or let some lucky Jadeite lover take them home? The jury’s still out on that one. But there’s no arguement about the last item I bought. I’ve been looking for months now for a vintage tin litho sign to nail up on our outdoor shower stall at The Breeze Inn. I scoured the midwest during the great October junk jaunt I wrote about here, but to no avail. I even made a trip to a metal salvage yard run by a friend of a friend in Savannah–hoping I might stumble across what would be my fantasy find–an old Capt. John Derst bread sign. No luck. Finally, just as I was leaving the parking lot at Scott’s yesterday, I spied a dealer who had lots of great old tin signs and Tom’s Snacks jars and racks. The Royal Crown sign was just the ticket. Reminds me of the old movie promotion in my hometown of St. Pete. On Saturday mornings, you could get into the Florida theatre for a showing of kiddie movies–Old Yeller! Big Red! The Parent Trap! for six Royal Crown Cola bottle caps. Of course, since there were five of us, that meant we had to come up with 30 bottle caps. Usually, we fished them out of the coke machine at my dad’s best friend’s gas station. Good times! Although all the other treasures I scored yesterday will make their way to the booth, I’m not letting that Royal Crown sign get away. Not anytime soon.

5 thoughts on “Catch and Release”

  1. A friend and I do the same thing and have a yearly yard sale. "Catch and Release" describes it perfectly. Sometimes we trade items back and forth too. I found a bullet riddled RC tin temperature gauge sign a few years ago on Craigslist. Bought it and gave it to my friend. Well, she loves it and I'm now thinking she will never get rid of it-so I can have it.

  2. I hear you on the puttering part – my case is an hour away, and that's probably a good thing. I loved RC growing up – that sign is fabulous!

  3. Love the RC sign! Didn't know you grew up in St. Pete – I grew up down the road in Sarasota. My RC memories stem back from drinking it on Saturday night at my grandparents house when they would have their friends over to play pinnacle. Isn't it great when you find something that isn't just cool to look at but brings back a happy memory too?! 🙂

  4. thanks for your great comment today. i've caught a lot of flack for it, but really = how much are we supposed to pay for a magazine that repeats photos?

    i loved that red and white living room too – loved it. but i hated how they chopped the photos up!!!!! just leave it all alone like drucker did. bring back drucker!!!!!

    take care,

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