The strangest thing my father ever brought home from an antique store was a casket.
“Hey, it was a good deal,” was his only response to our dropped jaws.
The coolest thing dad ever brought home was a coin-operated rocket ship. You can imagine how ecstatic I was as a 7-year-old when I saw our late-‘50s red Chevrolet pickup truck pull up to the house with a rocket taking up the entire bed. It was the kind you could sit in, drop in a nickel, hold onto to the steering wheel and imagine blasting into space. Every time I walk through an antique store I think of those two purchases.
I personally collect marbles and try to spend some time each month scouring the Flathead Valley antique tables for the little glass game pieces. It’s a full day with long hours of weaving through cramped booths of “stuff.” It’s an absolute treasure hunt. The room is a landscape with mountains and valleys of things I can sift through in search of something usually the size of a postage stamp.
Along the journey you find toys, games, glass, trinkets, furniture, clothes; each triggering more memories. The jelly jars with cartoon characters, green Depression glass grandma never let us touch and the vibrating football game it took three hours to set up and 20 seconds to execute a play.
Sifting through Victrola phonographs, cast iron banks and tin windups, I always find toys from my childhood. From He-Man (I still have my Castle Grayskull) and Star Wars (I still have my Millennium Falcon), to the Hot Wheels with the connectible orange track. The list is endless and personal to everyone.
I love walking among these memories. I come from a collecting family and know firsthand it’s a serious and viable business. But most importantly, it’s fun. It’s possible now to sit at my computer, search exactly what I want and buy it or bid on it. But part of finding the treasure is the journey. Part of being a collector is being part of a community and relating to other individuals through our common obsessions.
The Internet has opened up a global market to collectors, but it doesn’t replace the feeling I get when I’m wading through one of the valley’s antique markets and I stumble on the tin Buck Rogers inter-planetary rocket cruiser in mint condition and still in the box. And no matter how much it costs, I can always use the excuse, “Hey, it was a good deal.”
It should be known, due to house rules dad had to get rid of the casket.
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