Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Ones That Got Away

Thrift shopping has been my passion since I was old enough to walk “downtown” by myself when we lived in Albion. (Downtown was about one block away from the parsonage.) On my route home from sixth grade I passed by what we used to call a “junk store” (which would now be called an “antique store”).

I loved this dimly lit, dusty (OK, filthy) over-crowded emporium. It was chock full of wonders. Walking through the aisles, I always had the impression that if I were to bump into the wrong thing I would be buried in an avalanche of junk. I spent many glorious hours poking around in there by myself, spending a nickel here and a dime there on little wonderful tchotchke (I never learned what my finds were called until decades later). One day it was like a dream come true when I peered through the grimy windows to see horse statues, large ones and small figurines, all over the entire store! I ran home, got some money from the sock half-full of coins that I kept in my bedroom, went back to the store and started buying up the horses. I bought ones for 10¢, I bought ones for 15¢, I bought ones for 25¢! I was in Horse Heaven!!!

I was unfortunately not the only one buying these precious statues so some of them got away from me, but I bought as many as I could as swiftly as I could manage it.

Finally, one horse remained - it was the kind of bronze statue that one would see on a mantle, and it was the famous racehorse Man o’ War. It was magnificent. But, alas, it was far beyond my meager budget - it cost a whole $9.00. I tried in vain to convince my parents to front me a couple years’ allowance so I could buy this treasure but they flatly refused my impassioned pleas. “$9.00 for a horse statue! Not on your life, young lady!”

I do still own and cherish the rest of the horses I bought from that junk store, but if anyone in my lifetime ever invents a time machine, I plan on going back and buying Man o’ War.

Fast forward to the early eighties. One day my hubby and his best friend and I were messing around in and out of all of the great little shops that then occupied Allen Street. We went into a used clothing store and I immediately spied the most wondrous coat that I had ever seen in my life.

This coat was pale peach-colored iridescent leather. The style was a fingertip length artist smock, with a Peter Pan collar and huge patch pockets. This marvel, lined with bright red and white striped silk, looked like Doris Day could have worn it in one of those Rock Hudson comedies. It was simply amazing and as an added bonus, it not only felt like glove-leather, it fit me as if it had been tailor made. My two male companions proceeded to make fun of me for even thinking of such a garment (this was in the days of Rocky Horror at the Granada when black first started becoming the new black) and with great reluctance (on my part, at least) we exited the shop empty handed.

I phoned the shop as soon as I returned home, not twenty minutes later, to tell them to hold this prize for me. Alas, the proprietor informed me that as soon as we had left the store, an older couple from out of town had come in and bought MY COAT for their granddaughter. Oh! The agony!

Two tough lessons learned in an otherwise successful lifetime of thrift shopping. You can always rethrift an unwanted item, but far better to regret a purchase than regret losing the find of a lifetime. Buy now or forever hold your purse.