Of Days Gone By

Yesterday, I spent the majority of my morning browsing through a local antique mall. This place is a gem and I love how it reeks of oldness. When you walk in, you get hit with subtle scents of old perfume, rust, moth balls, and old books. The combination is very soothing. I love antiquing. The simple joy of holding something in your hand that meant something to someone in years past is wonderfully fascinating. Lately, I’ve been going there not to find collectables, but to scavenge through old books, vintage sheet music and photographs for my mixed media art. Regardless of what I’m searching for, every time I go I find something unique from another time. Another life.

Things I found that I didn’t buy:

A poetry book published in 1779 for $125 – probably the oldest book I’ve ever found. It was locked in a case, the binding was damaged but still intact, and the pages were terribly tainted but still very legible. It obviously was taken very good care of as the condition was not terrible. I actually was tempted to buy this book. Why? This was published in the era of the Revolutionary War. Who had this book? Where did it come from? And how did it make its way to CA which wasn’t a state until 1850?

A periodical featuring Charlie Chaplin for $25.

A newspaper proclaiming the event of JFKs assassination.

Sheet Music of Nat King Cole.

A square bottle of Moonshine (still full) claiming to be from the prohibition.

An early 1900 German to English translation book. Probably brought over during the Hitler Era.

These things caught my eye out of the many things I went through. The journey of America in a few small, forsaken pieces of personal possessions…things that at the time they were published were probably not considered of great importance, but the eras they now represent all played a part in our history in some way.

Tucked away in one of the booths was a stash of old family photographs…all piled together haphazardly in a wooden basket. I spent a lot of my time going through this, as the photos of this particular family really struck me. I have no idea who these people are, but it’s clear they loved life.

A snap shot of young lady in front of a brick building. She’s not the most beautiful girl, but she obviously cared about the way she looked. I love the fact that she smiled. In so many old photos the people don’t smile…I don’t know why, but they don’t. But she is.

A relaxed photo of friends lounging on the grass…again, something you typically don’t find in old photos – an informal pose. They look college age to me…too close in age to be brothers and sister. Maybe cousins? Was this staged or spontaneous? Was this taken on a campus of a college or taken at a park? One girl and 3 guys…not too odd for friends these days, but back then?

And lastly, my favorite. Someone took a photo of this little girl and wrote on the back: “Elizabeth Ann, her bubble gum, and her cat she called “Blondie.” To me this represents the epitome of childhood. Not a care in the world. If it were my daughter I’d probably be telling her to put the cat down because “we don’t touch animals when we have things in our mouths.” I had to laugh out loud. It obviously wasn’t a concern.  And this reminded me not to take life so seriously.

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4 thoughts on “Of Days Gone By

  1. Nice find! I asked my grandmother once why they didn’t smile in photographs and she said that they just thought people would get tired of looking at a goofy grin all the time. I’m glad we smile now, and I love the pictures you found.

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