Saturday, December 4, 2010

1950 All Over Again

When I was 11, my mother took me to an auction of junque and crap that has put me on a flea market trajectory ever since. To find stuff that is compelling AND underpriced rather rocks my world.

To that end, I made the bi-annual trek to Geneva, IL with Nancy this week (a delightful way to spend the day with a pal. Geneva has decorated its downtown with every conceivable live bough, berry and garland. Well done, neighbor.)

After browsing The Country Store of Geneva (on James Street and definitely worth the visit), we usually hit the Geneva Antique Market on Third Street. Now this emporium (where I found a first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird for beaucoup cheap) has the same feel from year to year. It is an illuminated jumble of tchotchkes, geegaws, doodads and treasures, all crammed into the basement of The Berry House.

This year, however, I could not believe the sheer amount of Christmas stuff jammed into display cases and shelves. They always carry this kind of inventory, of course, but the quantity was overwhelming -- red plastic Santas from the 50s, plastic reindeer, ornaments (probably plastic but covered in so much glitter who can tell), Santa mugs, Christmas postcards, elves, trees of every color, tree skirts, Christmas aprons, Christmas tea towels, Christmas jewelry. It was beyond anything I've ever seen.

After my third, "Have you ever seen so much vintage Christmas stuff in your life?" Nancy observed that the original owners of all this stuff have probably died, and so their possessions are at auctions and garage sales.


"Well they're retired, if you prefer, and have downsized."

The ultimate downsizing.

Nancy is right, of course. The parents of our generation are gone, or going. Their kids already have a ton of stuff and their children want stuff from Crate and Barrel, not Grandma's moldy basement.

There are exceptions, however. I see nostalgia (and the occasional buying of same) as the ultimate in recycling. So perhaps, instead of a being a blue Christmas, it's really a green one...

that started in black and white.

(The stores in Geneva have not paid me for this post. Believe me when I say it is I who have paid them.)


Carol said...

Brava, my friend. This was one of the best pieces of writing I've read in quite a while.

Oh, and I am dying to put "geegaws" on my Christmas list just to get the puzzled expressions from people.

Johanna said...

Carol stole my comment (written in my head before I read hers). This is your best ever blog. I loved reading every word of it and the descriptions were so good that I was there with you! I so wish I'd really been there but if I buy any more Christmas stuff Tom has threatened to unMom me. By the way, I have one of the Santa mugs somewhere in my attic. I think it came from Grandma J's. Great work!!!

Kathy and Freddy said...

I have taken to pulling out any old junque and crap from the 50's and 60's I can find....all from when Mick's parents downsized and did the 1990's peach and light teal and silver and bows Christmas tree in Florida.

Where did you get that 50's photo? It is fascinating.

Also, yes, this may be your best blog yet!!!

Terry said...

I have greatly enjoyed all your December Naperville Now articles, especially this one. Entertaining and clever articles, my friend.