So I missed Thrift Share Monday yesterday. I have a good excuse, though. I was in New Jersey, attending the funeral mass for Mark's grandmother. She was an incredible woman who had a wonderful, full life and died at 96. This post isn't about her, though--though I was blessed to have known her, she's not my story to tell.
This day-late post is about her house and the treasures within.
I've heard stories about this house for years. It's a connected duplex, with two discrete halves connected on both the first and second floors by hallways, with a shared basement and attic. Though I've never seen a set up quite like it, apparently it wasn't all that uncommon back in the day. For many years (from the late 1940s or early 1950s, I believe), the house was occupied on one side by Mark's grandmother, her husband, and her four children (one of whom is Mark's mother) and on the other by Mark's great aunt (his grandmother's sister) and her husband. Through all that time, there have been almost no changes to the house or its contents. Mark's aunt, who is a bit older than his mom (maybe about 70?) told me she remembered the house being re-sided when she was a little girl, and a roof being put on when she was a young adult. The washing machine and dryer in the basement, as well as the boiler, were replaced in the 80s. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same.
Which is to say, it's pretty much my idea of heaven. Mark knew it would be, and prepared me, but I still ran around exclaiming over everything I saw in a way that was probably not quite polite, given the occasion. There wasn't a piece or two of nice mid-century (and older) furniture--there were rooms full. Every totchke, every glass or cup in the kitchen, every square of wall paper--it was all perfectly, resplendently, old. There was almost nothing there I wouldn't have picked up and considered buying in a thrift store.
But there were two highlights.
First, Mark and his dad took me down to the basement to show me where Mark and his brother and their cousins had spent so much time as children. It was a basement--work bench, laundry, etc. Except that every thing on the work bench, every can of varnish or paint, had a pristine mid-century label. As I was oohing and awing over them, I almost missed the chairs.
The room was more or less lined with perfectly lovely mid-century lounge chairs. Several wooden framed ones with cushions, and two absolutely perfect turquoise naugahyde ones. I gasped, ran over to them, and began to pet them lovingly while Mark and his dad laughed at me.
Then, later, Mark took me up to show me the "kids' bedrooms" in the attic. On an exposed shelf, I noticed a row of pristine vintage hat boxes. When I mentioned them to Mark, he grabbed one and looked inside.
They were full of perfect condition vintage hats, circa 1930s-1960s. There were probably six hats, wrapped in tissue paper, in each of the four or five boxes. Church hats. Party hats. Feathered headbands. Mark's great-aunt was a jazz singer. She kept costume hats. And they are all in perfect shape.
I so nearly cried. Just touching this amazing collection was a privilege. Being able to see these things in their native environment, before they are separated and given away, or sold, or (please God no) thrown away? An unbelievable joy.
This, my friends, is why I thrift. To be able to see these things that have lived such long lives, and occasionally to bring them home with me. But seeing them like this, as they were used in the lives of people I know, is so much more amazing. I am so honored to have been invited to take a peek.