Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I Love Pickin'

I've been a picker since birth and didn't even know it until a few years ago when History Channel launched "American Pickers".  We called it antiquing, garage saling, going to estate auctions, etc.  Whatever you call it, when we were little and my mom took us to salvage stuff to re-purpose and refinish we thought it was a blast.  If we'd been good we might even get $5 to bid on whatever we wanted.  

It was a great lesson in American history, budgeting, salvage, recycling, being creative, etc.  I learned about many an item's use, origin and value from an auctioneer's colorful descriptions.  And what a feeling of pride to walk away with an item after out-bidding the adults and still getting a great deal or negotiating for a box full of treasures scored for a small pittance of what one item would retail for.   

Many a weekend was spent scrounging around old barns, attics, and basements looking for that piece for a collection.  An old piece of harness stiff with the dried sweat from a draft horse who worked the fields day after day.  I'd spend rainy days in the barn talking to my horse and bringing that piece of farming history back to life with layer after layer of neatsfoot oil.  The long neglected nearly black bronze horse clock that didn't seem to run - brought back to glory with a little tinkering and lots of rubbing - earning a prize spot on my shelf.  The old rusty metal steam trunk that smelled musty and was missing all the essential inner dividers - sanded, painted a shiny black and stenciled with my name to become the tack trunk that accompanied me to college and still sits in my barn holding my best leathers.  My mom and I also spent many quality hours refinishing items together and we like to revisit our adventures in finding and restoring it.

My taste in items evolved from the horse-obsessed to the household and entertaining essentials - enameled pots, carnival glass dishes, oriental dragonware tea sets, antique paintings with ornate frames, Wilton cheese platters, end tables, and on and on.  We would plan trips to spend the day wandering a strip like US-12 through the Irish Hills of Michigan - well known for its antique stores but also packed with unique little stops and garden centers and such.

I tried to get my husband to go many times in our early years together only to be met with eye-rolling - if only I had known the term pickin'.  

We are huge American Picker fans - the first time I caught my husband really getting into following the series I was stunned - you mean if I had invited you to go pickin' you would have been interested?  LOL!  The great thing is that these guys tell about the item and care as much about its history as what it looks like sitting in the piles of "junk".  I'm just jealous that I'm too old for their "Pick & Tell" Contest!  What a great way to get kids to care about the history that surrounds them and learn a lesson in bargaining and budgeting too.  They even have a classroom guide - now what middle- or high-schooler wouldn't rather learn about history in such a fun way - the first line is "Digging Through Piles of Junk!"  How awesome is that!

I've just really started to introduce my kids to these fun adventures - my daughter has a good eye already and treasurers her antique twin bed with the carved headboard that matches the dressing table she inherited from my great-grandmother - scored from a lady with a backyard pole barn she opened up for a barn sale a couple of times a year.  At 8 years old, its a great opportunity for her to explore history hands-on and triggers many good questions.

Making a list of things I want to look for and making plans for some pickin' trips this summer!

No comments: