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The Birth of a Junker

Posted by L Abbott on January 15, 2011 at 10:00 AM

~Yes that is me holding the doll while eye balling my brothers truck~


My Grandmother was the queen of pack rats. She had everything anyone could imagine. Heisey adorned the whole house. My Grandmother was friends with Mrs. Heisey, very good friends it seems. 

 

Although I didn't know it at the time she had many items that never hit the market, and special made pieces for companies and elections.(Therefore my mother had gobs of the stuff. I am not a fan)

She had Weller, Roseville and tons of all the pottery that made this part of Ohio famous. Books, books, and books!

 

She had record players that us kids thought were awesome. Round records, thick small records (Edison's), and stacks of things our parents called Victrola records. Sometimes she would play them for us. It was a creepy feeling listening to scratchy music that would slowly wind down to nothing. At the same time it was exciting, and all of us were thrilled when she would play them.

 

She had small suitcase full of buttons, bunches of them. These buttons were me and my cousin’s entertainment. I had 20 or so first cousins, entertaining us all must have been a chore. What can you do with buttons you say?? Lots of things!

......

Button, button who has the button! We would start at the bottom of the steps, and every time we guessed where the button was we got to up a step. I think there were only four of five steps until the landing where she stopped, and never going beyond unless an older cousin would play. It was a race to see who got there first.

Then there was stringing buttons! Hours and hours of picking out the ones we liked best to string. She would save our button string for a day or two, and then back into the suitcase they would go.

............

She also had something that all us kids dream about even today. An attic, not just any attic a fantasy attic! Walking up the steps the adventure was only as good as our imaginations. Even the bare light bulb seemed to ooze magic from its dim light.

She had trunks of stuff, and clothes from the 1800's. Furniture that would make a cottage where evil witches lived or palaces made for a queen, or golden faeries. Old metal toys that gave joy to us girls as well as the few boys in our clan.

......

This was a place where several us could play at a time. When we had our family get 'together's' it was a big no. The very first thing our parents would say when we walked in, knowing how many of us were going to be there was, "Stay out of the attic!"

...............

We were split up in two groups. The older cousins went to Grandma's room, and the younger ones, who were in what we called "Jackie's room keeping us from killing each other, and digging into things we had no business playing with.

Jackie was a cousin that lived there some years ago, but now the room was all but empty and kept us out of trouble. You were only allowed to be in the older group when the oldest of the cousins believed you to be worthy. As fate would have it I never got to the older group.

 

What's an adventurous mischievous kid to do? Peek into forbidden places of course. Down the long second floor hallway just before you got to the servant entrance steps to the kitchen, was a closed room that we were never permitted to enter.

....

It was tempting I have to say. Through the key hole you could see junk stacked to the ceiling. We would take turns looking in asking, "What did you see?" We never dared as a group to open the door. You have to remember this was the 60's, and punishment wasn't a threat...ever.

 

In those days my Grandma was my babysitter, some days my brother and I wandered through the big house feeling alone and bored. Sometimes we were split up, One going with a cousin one staying with Grandma.

.......

One of those days someone got the bright idea to go in that room. Oh alright it was me. I think it took several days of going in a little at a time before I made it to the back. The very back was my destination after all. The grass is greener at the back of the junk room, didn't you know?

........

From the middle I could see this majestic marbled dresser, with great carved handles. I had to see what was inside no matter the cost. I was a fearless four or five year old. I was afraid of very little, even ending up falling into the bottom of the piles to be lost forever didn't bother me. Getting caught, that was another thing. I was determined, and I knew from the start I would go all the way to back one way or another.

.......

When I made it there it was full of all the magic I knew was there. In the two small drawers on either side was full of makeup, and stale perfume. The main drawers had frilly dresses from the 40's and 50's! On top of the dresser was a grand old stuffed black dog that stood guard.

...

I named the dog on the spot, and declared the dresser and all its contents to be claimed by the kingdom of Lynda land! Many times I found myself alone playing dress up, and happily living in the world of my imagination. Like all kids it was only a matter of time before I blew it.

......

One day as my mother called me from the bottom of the stairs I forgot an important thing. My face, I walked down looking as innocent as I could manage with painted lips to eyes with old Avon makeup. Nailed!

......

Oh I was punished; there was no getting around the rules no matter how amused my mother was. The room was now declared with force no entrance. My heart was broken. You see I was one of those kids that thought everything was alive, and they were very real to me. I didn't pout to have these things, I liked them just where they were, and I missed my land, my kingdom!

.....

One day Mom sat me down to talk to me about my great adventure. She scolded me again for breaking the rules. Then to my surprise she asked me if I were to take the dresser home would I promise never to go in there again. It turns out the dresser used to be hers. Of course I promised, and was thrilled to have the dresser that I Lemon Pledged until it screamed for mercy.

.....

Hmm what? The dog? Oh yes the dog came home with me as well, and slept with me every single night. There was something missing of course. They still had the magic and I loved them dearly, but it wasn't the same.

 

What would I do now on those long days at Grandma's? My brother I was not allowed in the attic without our older sister or a cousin. There was another room blocked off for years that WAS strictly forbidden. It was off the main dining room, and us kids would peek through the keyhole. You could smell the mold wafting off the things in there. It was full of nothing but books, and it was nailed shut.

.....

Well as luck would have it there were other places to investigate. In the entrance foyer under the winding stairway behind the telephone chair was a closet. Grandma might have thought it was quite hidden behind the chair, but she didn't know me.

I could pull the chair out just a bit, open the door a crack and crawl in, that is just what I did. Stacked along the back were dozens of framed prints. The one in front was one of three horses that seemed in fear of the approaching lightening. (The Pharaoh's Horses)

.....

Right away they were my friends. Upon further investigation buried and alone was a doll. It was a beat up old thing with eyes that were too big her face. I felt her pain as she looked like me, and I had another friend.

.......

One day under the stairs all of a sudden the door burst open letting in the offensive light. I looked up with such fear I thought I would burst into tears. Lucky for me it was just Grandma there. She looked at my new hiding place and grinned. "What do you have there? You found that old doll I see." So I asked Grandma why she was there. She smiled and said. "Cat got her tongue."

I didn't understand it of course, but she was an old talking doll that no longer worked (She turned out to be an Ideal Talky Tot)

.....

Fate smiled upon me once again. When I went home that day, safely tucked away in the truck was my horses, and sitting next to me was my doll that the mean old cat had taken her tongue. Slowly for the next few years my magical items were all around me in my very room. My room was now the magic room. I was getting too big to hide without getting caught.

.....

This was the birth of a pack rat Junker, but my new disorder was to be enabled even more.

..........

I was around eleven nearly twelve when for some reason my Grandmother thought it was time to get rid of things. I'm not sure if she needed the money, or if she knew she was ill, but one day a plan was formed. Our property could be used for commercial use; they thought the best way to sell things was to open our own antique store.

......

So at that age I became aware of things Grandma had I had never known before. Heisey mostly, and apparently the very best of the stuff. It wasn't long before I could find Heisey without looking at it. Heisey has a feel that no other glass has.

She had all the Ohio pottery as well. It might not be something most can tell at a glance but I can. We’ll all accept the dripped brown stuff that McCoy and Hull used. Yuck. Yes I said yuck. I was sick of Heisey and drip ware, I still am, but I can tell you anything you want to know about it.

......

Long story short we did that for some time. Sometimes we went to auctions and sales to add to the inventory. I bid on my first thing when I was twelve. Mom had books out the kazoo, and slowly I learned about nearly everything.

This wasn't what added to my new obsession though it only made me appreciate it more....

.......

Within that year was when my Grandmother passed. With six kids trying to clean up that massive house full of junk they got burned out. Everything began to look like junk to them, and things ended up in the throw away pile. My Uncle had a dump on his property and this was where they stuff was bound.

......

Even the nailed shut book room was opened up. We don't want to be too hard on our mom's and dad's at this point, there were thousands. They picked out the ones they wanted the rest thrown away.

......

How could you stand it you ask?? I didn't. My father had parked our car at my Uncles and always rode into town with him. When the trailer headed out to the dump, I sat in the trailer hitching a ride. When they would go into my Uncles to take a break or eat. I would grab what I could and hide it in the trunk of my Dad's car. I did this every day, several times a day for at least two weeks.

.......

I ended up with tons of books, doll heads, pottery, and toys of all kinds, boxes, bobbles, jewelry, and broken little pieces of furniture that would fit snugly in the trunk. If I ran out of room I would simply hide it until the next day.

How did you not get caught you ask? Oh I did, but by the time I got caught it hardly mattered, it was already in my room. My parents might be able to throw it out at others request, not so much when it was home.

....

At twelve years old I had as many antiques as someone junking for years. There was no going back after all. I am proud to say I am not a hoarder though. I am well aware of my limitations. The things that always meant a lot to me I still have, even my dog and my Talky Tot. The other things I learned to let go.

 

 

Many, many times I'll pick something up just to sell it. Unless it's a childhood item if it's in a box out of sight for a couple of years I unload it. Besides how can I justify buying more unless I have room?!!

Categories: Birth of a Junker

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