I went to an estate sale this morning. I’d never been to one before, but the craigslist ad said there would be pink pyrex there. I’m wanting a set of pink Cinderella bowls, so my husband and I went to breakfast then stood in line for the sale.
It was a small mid-century house, which had never been remodeled or redecorated. So it was filled with mid century modern furniture and decor.
We were the only people in line who were not dealers, all of whom were looking for specific types of items.
The first young lady in line has an etsy shop for vintage clothing.
The second one wanted the starburst clock.
The next several people were furniture dealers.
Then the lady who was a pyrex dealer. She got the only two pieces that were available. I was looking in upper cabinets, while she was moving quickly through the lower ones, where they were. They were casserole dishes, not the bowls I’d wanted, so I wasn’t disappointed.
The interesting part of the morning was the wait in line before the doors opened, listening to the dealers.
Some were quite pragmatic. They tended to be the older ones.
The younger ones – mid to late twenties, I’d guess – were more idealistic. They were lamenting how often older people ruined mid century furniture. Original owners and their children committed such travesties as drilling holes to refit pieces for new technology and – gasp – painting the wood.
I just listened, amused.
I grew up in a mid century home, with mid century modern furniture. Many of my neighbors had it, too. When it went out of style, it was sold at garage sales, given to Goodwill, or – gasp – painted.
When my parents moved to a new colonial style house, very little of the mid-mod stuff was kept, including the starburst clock.
Maybe it takes a decade of adulthood to realize that there is a difference between collecting things and living with them.
Or maybe it takes becoming a parent.
When you live with your stuff, you get tired of it, or it no longer suits your needs, and you either replace it or remake it. In the meantime, your kids bang up the tables, spill things on sofa, and leave dripping cups on everything. It’s called life, and, yes, sometimes it ruins the furniture.
I have some old furniture, things that belonged to my grandmother, things that are not really my style but which I love anyway. Although I wish they were in better condition, I look at them and see generations of people who cared more about their family than their stuff.
I am keeping up a fine tradition, then, even if one day collectors will turn up their noses at everything in my house.