OLD YEAR RESOLUTIONS

When we moved to Fort Mill 14 years ago, the Great Randini realized that we had landed ourselves above the “gnat line” and proclaimed that he was never, ever moving back below it.  Therefore, having him agree that we should move back to Charleston when he retired was a pleasant surprise.  With a long range plan set in motion, I figured we’d be living back in Charleston when we hit our 70s.  Compared to never ever, I was content with down the road.  So you can imagine my utter surprise when he told me he was thinking maybe we could move that timetable up a bit, like let’s put the house on the market now and see how it goes.  

After picking myself back up off the floor, I agreed and we started “decluttering.”  Well, if you’ve read my blog, you know that was a monumental task.  We swore off picking for the foreseeable future and prevailed upon Ryan and Ashlynn who helped us tremendously by agreeing to adopt some of our treasures, finding a place for them in their new home.  I’ve seen pictures of the end results.  Believe me, with their creative juices flowing, a lot of elbow grease, some stain, some paint and a dash of TLC, these same pieces look much happier in their home than being exiled to our garage.

On Thanksgiving, we headed to Charleston, not to find a home, but to tell the family of our plans and to find a storage unit for our plethora of treasures.  Having made numerous trips back since to fill it up, we have come to the realization that we may have grossly underestimated our spatial needs.  Unloading the last truckload of our prior pickings required quite a bit of reconnoitering but when we left, we were still able to close the door and lock it.

While we had good intentions trying to give up picking for the time being, this weekend it snuck up on us and ambushed us big time.  We promised we were only doing research checking out some of the malls anticipating the possibility of renting a booth in the Charleston/Summerville area once we move.  Certainly, we needed to see what our options are and check them out in person.   

We were happy to find Summerville Antique Gallery open with a New Year’s Day sale in full swing and donuts and cookies to fuel our research.  At first, we stuck by our pledge that is until the Great One spotted an amber seltzer bottle, which didn’t take long.  I pretended to nonchalantly pass it by for about half-a-second . . . and that first breach in our pledge was like the 1000 year flood waters, there was no stopping us now.   

Yes, it was only New Year’s Day, but then that resolution was really one made last year and I don’t remember renewing it on New Year’s Eve.  Didn’t the time limit on 2015 resolutions officially expire with the drop of the ball in Times Square?  (Have I ever told you that I have extraordinary powers of rationalization?)   With that first purchase of the New Year, we’re back in picking mode and if we keep this up, we’re going to need another storage unit.  This time, we’ll choose a larger one.

ONE SMALL STEP . . .

Were we surprised the first weekend in November when we awoke to the sound of more than pittering and pattering on our roof?  Not at all.  It was Metrolina Expo Marketplace weekend and we were determined to give it another try.  So it was no surprise to us that Mother Nature decided to unleash a multitude of slow-moving heavily laden rain clouds our way.  After stopping for his usual portable breakfast (yes, even in the pouring rain), the Great One maneuvered his way through the downpour.  As most of the sane folks in the area had rolled back over in their nice dry beds, we had very little company on the road. 

Pulling into the parking lot, we realized that we have never arrived at the Metrolina on a pretty sunshiny day.  When we attended a coin show here years ago, Mother Nature greeted us by conjuring up a windstorm, which practically blew us back out of the parking lot.  Since then, we have tried the Marketplace event a few times and every time, the parking lot looks like a duck’s paradise.  Picking our way around the puddles proved to be an exercise in futility and made us wish we owned galoshes, but since we normally don’t have to brave the elements (except when we want to), we are ill-equipped for such occasions.  Of course, we could have just stayed home, but what fun would that be?

Arriving at the gate, there was a lull in the rain so we decided to check out the outdoor vendor tents while we had the chance.  There were still pudgy gray clouds looming just above waiting to wring themselves out over the area.  Right off the bat, the Great One found some crates and with profound restraint, walked away with just one, which necessitated a trip back to the truck – for him – I just kept on looking.  A gorgeous art deco console radio looking for a new home caught my eye, but as we still have more than our fair share in the garage, we admired her beauty and went on our way.

Inside we came across the Cork Dork with her ever expanding line of recycled wine cork boards, trivets, etc. in her usual booth near the door.  Mike’s-N-Gayle’s Toys and Joys Antiques, got our attention next.  Among her many treasures, Gayle has mini vintage Made in Japan cameras  and a Made In Occupied Japan cigarette lighter that looks like a mini camera.  Having lost so many family members to lung cancer, we stay away from smoking-related items.  So, unique as it is, it couldn’t come home with us.  Looking in Mike’s toy booth on previous occasions as well, we have noticed, his stock is ever changing.  If you don’t find something you just have to have this time, he’ll have something for you next time.

Along the way, we happened upon Robert Kurschner of Sterling Treasures.  His chandeliers that sparkle and shine were hard to miss and drew us towards his booth, where we found beautiful crystal and fine china.  As he and the Great One had a lot in common (a past that included food industry sales), we spent a good bit of time with him.  He shared his belief that the “good stuff” should be used and enjoyed, not hidden away in a cabinet.  So if you have fine china and crystal you’re not using, maybe you should call him.   Seeing as I have safeguarded my china and crystal for over 40 years now, maybe it is time to bring it out and enjoy it.

In Nostalgia That Works, we found John Mode, radio aficionado, who enjoys restoring and refurbishing old radios.  He had some really beautiful ones on display, all of which worked.  While we have a garage full of old turntables and parts, about the only thing of interest to him would be a Zenith Cobramatic toner arm.  We haven’t found any Zeniths yet, but If ever we do. . .

Space-related toys and banks have become an obsession (one of many) for the Great One so when he came across 3 Louis Marx & Co. Inc. plastic spacemen made in 1970 following the July 20, 1969 Apollo Moon Landing, I knew he wasn’t going to walk away from them and he didn’t.  But I did have to talk him into the Schylling Collector Series Rocket Ride Carousel toy, a perfect tie-in for his space collection – no batteries needed.

Weather aside, it was our best Metrolina Expo Marketplace experience yet.  We had a good time, met some interesting people and went home with a few treasured items.  And last but not least, there was the kettle corn on the way out for the ride home.  Unlike movie theater popcorn, this kettle corn tastes as good as it smells. 

MONROE NC HAS US HOOKED ON HIDDEN TREASURES AND ANTIQUE MARKETS

The past few weeks have found me pursuing a new pastime – stripping – wallpaper that is.  What I thought was going to be a fairly simple job has turned into a multiple-weeks long project with still no end in sight.  Fortunately, I only papered the bottom half of the walls, so maybe I’ll be done before the end of the year.  I am finally down to just the glue and I refuse to let it beat me, however, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever consider wallpaper again. (I know, Great One, you told me not to paper the bathroom.  Guess I don’t listen very well, do I?)

But even this project didn’t keep us from our weekly adventures, so Halloween morning found us making our way to Monroe, North Carolina looking for new additions to our favorites list.  First stop brought us to Then & Now Marketplace, which opened back in the summer.  They carry a mix of vintage and antique items as well as new gifts and home décor.  Be sure to check out the items on display outside the shop, as well.

Next, as we were searching for Pack Rat Antiques Shoppe, we stumbled upon A Hidden Treasure and although we had planned on checking it out, this place looked nothing like the picture on its Facebook page and obviously, was not the same address I had on my list for the day.  It turns out, A Hidden Treasure has two locations now.  Sara explained that her parents who opened the original Hidden Treasure, opened this second location in March.  They are growing and adding new vendors all the time.  A cute little wooden crate which housed 2 small pewter Svensk Punsch cups, jumped up and down on the shelf, stopping just short of doing back flips to get my attention and begged me to take it home.  Okay, maybe there was no actual jumping and begging, it just might have been lingering after-effects secondary to strobe light exposure. 

We did find Pack Rat Antiques Shoppe and they do have some really beautiful high-end pieces.  Well worth a visit if you are looking for unique, one-of-a-kind antiques.  Unfortunately, our budget doesn’t have a lot of leeway.

The original Hidden Treasure store was our next stop.  Its aqua blue storefront is hard to miss and conjures up scenes from pirate movies of yore as the swashbuckling hero, scans the horizon from the deck of his ship while searching for that ever elusive hidden treasure.  Give yourself plenty of time because there are many nooks and crannies with shelves from ceiling to floor and you won’t want to miss the opportunity to find your heart’s desire lurking just around the corner.  A treasure trove for PEZ enthusiasts awaits, as well as enough jewelry to fill a seaworthy chest. 

We ended our day at the Monroe Antique Market.  We had been there once before and found a cabinet to house my Made In Occupied Japan collection.  There were treats on the table to greet us and 5,000 square feet of take-us-to-your-house items, in particular a bread crate from Great Bend Bakery that would make a very unique coffee table.  Sadly, we had to leave it behind.  They do offer multiple opportunities to folks whose collections, not unlike ours, are beginning to outgrow their allotted spaces.  Booth rental as well as consignment arrangements can help you free up some space and get your cash flowing again so that you can get back to searching, because it is the thrill of the hunt that hooks us all.

ECLECTIC PERSPECTIVES OR VINTAGE TYPES - THE TAYLORS HAVE YOU COVERED ON ETSY AND AT THE DEPOT

Finally, a beautiful Saturday morning (as in no rain) arrived and learning that Jim was back at the Barnyard Flea Market in Pineville, we headed that way to stop by and say hello.  Happy to find him looking and feeling good and learning that his wife is also doing well, we were ready to head on. 

From there, The Depot at Gibson Mill was our destination, after the obligatory QT breakfast stop, of course.  Believe it or not, visiting Jim took precedence over the Great One’s Diet Mountain Dew and Rice Krispie Treat breakfast.  Yes, he has tweaked his menu slightly.   

Nearing the Poplar Tent Road exit, we realized it had been a while since we visited The Depot.  All of the orange barrels that had so cheerfully greeted us on every visit in the past have vanished and the newly created round-about is operational.  After careful deliberation, the Great One chose the perfect parking spot and in we went.  Although we never know what we are going to find at The Depot, we do know we will always find a wealth of friendly vendors and today was no exception.

For us, visiting The Depot is a daylong excursion.  Usually, upon entering the front door we drift right, but today, we began browsing in the opposite direction.  Ellie’s Diner was open and the aroma promising a delicious lunch break kept pulling my nose in that direction.  Far be it for us to deny my nose, so we decided to go ahead and eat before the major rush got there.   

Having silenced our hunger pangs, as well as my nose, we began our hunting in earnest and came upon Bruce and Jon Maria Taylor of Eclectic Perspectives trying to decide where to hang a life-size metal sculpture of a skeleton holding a pumpkin.  (Glancing at it sideways, I mistakenly assumed it was a basketball player holding a ball.  You know what they say about assuming.)  As usual, the Great One was happy to offer his opinion on the subject and we got to talking with them. 

Sharing an abundance of knowledge with years of experience to back it up, they gave us their views on picking in general, vendor booths and Etsy shops.  They both work in the education field and started picking as a shared weekend hobby.  One thing lead to another and now they have a couple of booths (Eclectic Perspectives and Vintage Types) and a couple of Etsy shops.  They each have their own area of interest and expertise.  Keeping up with all of this in what used to be their spare time keeps them quite busy, but they still enjoy hunting for those special treasures and then passing them on to just the right new owners who will cherish them. 

At this point, we’re still just collecting, but know the day will come when we can no longer find each other amongst all the “collectibles” we have amassed and will need to find new homes for our treasured pieces.  When that time comes, we will be forever grateful to Bruce and Jon Maria as well as all the other folks along the way who have taken the time to point us in the right direction.  In the meantime, we will continue bringing home those pieces that latch on to us and won’t let go.  Fortunately for us, they are getting smaller and lighter. 

COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON SCHOOL OF THE ARTS SILVER CELEBRATION

Back in the summer, the parents of our second daughter (that sounds so much better than daughter-in-law) invited us to mark our calendar for October 10, 2015 and join them at the College of Charleston School of the Arts Silver Celebration.  As we like to eat, drink and be merry we graciously accepted and looked forward to spending the evening with the folks who raised the woman who makes our oldest son’s eyes sparkle. 

At this point, just about everyone knows about the record-breaking, drought-busting rainfall that occurred in South Carolina the first week in October.  Downtown Charleston was basically closed to all incoming traffic while parts of Columbia and Georgetown received more than 20 inches of rain.  Portions of major highways and roadways were closed to vehicular traffic and the only feasible mode of transportation seemed to be small watercraft.  So we were all thankful that the Silver Celebration had been planned for the following weekend.  

In Charleston the flood waters had receded, the city had pretty much dried out and life went on.  The College was back in session and preparations for the Silver Celebration were heading down the home stretch.  So the Great Randini and I packed our bags.

It was drizzling Saturday morning and having just had the lawn aerated and reseeded, I thought our timing was impeccable.  However, as we headed down the road, the skies over Fort Mill cracked wide open dumping copious amounts of liquid sunshine upon us which followed us almost all the way to Charleston.

I’d be lying if I said I only checked the weather app for the Charleston forecast once or twice.  Initially the rain was supposed to hit Charleston around 4 PM and continue through the evening.  However, the closer we got to Charleston, the earlier the rain was supposed to start and the longer it was supposed to last.  I had visions of backstroking down Calhoun Street to get to the Gaillard.  I knew Joanna must have been on pins and needles at that point as she had an integral part in the planning and execution of this gala.

Fortunately, somewhere along the way, the skies ran out of rain or decided on a different destination for their deluge.  Downtown Charleston was dry and breezy as we picked up our first daughter, who was serving as a volunteer for the evening and miraculously found a free parking spot right out front.  (Sorry, Jonathan, we should have left that for y’all, we forgot your car would be loaded with laptops, tablets, cameras, etc.)

If you grew up in Charleston, then you must remember the old Gaillard.  It was built in the late 60s and reflected the building style of that period.  I don’t think it was ever called pretty (inside or out) but it served its purpose.  Thus, when time came for a new performing arts center, it was decided to strip the old Gaillard down to its framework upon which the new and improved Gaillard would be built.  You really do need to see it.  Prepare to be impressed.  The lobby is only a sneak preview of the wonders that await.  The Grand Ballroom, the site of the Silver Celebration (which was their first event) definitely lives up to its name. 

We ate, we drank, we were merry and I won a gorgeous Abigail Heche quilt in the silent auction.  Being the crowd-watcher that I am, I do believe the evening was a great success.  Just ask “The Porch Ladies.” A lot of people put in a great deal of time and effort to pull off this wonderful evening.  I hope they know how much we all enjoyed the fruits of their labor.      

Thanks, Dick and Janet, for including us at your table.  We really enjoyed spending time with the two of you watching our “kids” help to promote The College of Charleston School of the Arts in such grand fashion. 

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PICKING SALISBURY

We have made the trip to Salisbury, North Carolina more than a few times, but this was our first trip there for picking purposes.  We can find our way to Catawba College or the golf course on our own; but to get us to the antique/vintage stores, we were relying on our old faithful GPS.  At least we thought we were.  However, I guess the GPS is only as good as the input and I obviously failed miserably in that capacity.  We ended up on South Main Street in Faith, North Carolina.  (Note to self: pay attention to zip codes, not city names, when GPS gives me choices.)  Fortunately, Faith is only 6 miles away from Salisbury and eventually we happened upon our first destination, Salisbury Square Antiques & Collectibles. 

Von Coolidge Poston’s antique/vintage mall in downtown Salisbury is a great place to spend a morning or an afternoon.  We should know, we were there for quite a while.  We even took a lunch break at the Sidewalk Deli and came back.  We could have chatted with Von all day long, but then we were on a mission, there was plenty to see and we did not want to miss a thing. 

Not long into our search, a pair of sewing accessory cabinets from an old mill latched onto us and continuously called out to us ever more loudly as we made our way through other booths.  They are not antique, nor particularly pretty, but we just could not walk away from them.    

Talk about cumbersome pieces.  I’m sure getting them into the truck was an amusing site.  The first one was a piece of cake.  I just backed in one door carrying my end all the way through putting the cabinet down just before backing out the opposite door.  Then we returned with the second one.  As the first cabinet stood squarely in the middle of my pathway, we were in a dilemma.  After a most comical unsuccessful attempt, a musclebound stranger took mercy on us and in one fell swoop lifted the cabinet and deposited it next to its twin.  (Now if only he’d come home with us.  The garage is in dire need of someone with muscles.)

Our next stop was 1839 Antiques.  Franchot Palmer made an awesome choice when he purchased this former rope factory for his antique store.  Set back from the road, the charming brick exterior beckons with promises of a unique shopping experience.  Everything in this 5,000 square foot building - every piece of furniture, silver, china glass, etc. is all his, including an extensive stock of stained glass windows.  If you’re looking for that perfect window, this is definitely where you should begin your search. 

Leaving the old rope factory building, we headed to the 100-year-old brick warehouse which now houses over 85 vendors.  In The Salisbury Emporium you’ll find gifts, antiques, books, furniture, pottery, fine art, and a whole lot more.  You will also find gorgeous wooden floors that take you back in time.  Located near the restored Salisbury Train Station, it’s only fitting that you will find railroad items among their offerings while approaching trains provide rhythmic background music taking your imagination along for the ride.

STATESVLLE IS NOT CHARLOTTE, BUT THEN THAT’S A GOOD THING!

According to their website, Statesville, North Carolina is not a lot of things.  Unlike its neighbor to the south, it is not a cultural mecca nor a gigantic banking center.  It is usually devoid of major traffic snarls and has no professional sports venues.  But when you visit Statesville, you just might decide what it is not is what makes it such a charming little city.  You will find hardworking, considerate, humble and friendly folks who will welcome you to their town and make you feel at home.  It’s worth the drive to see how calm and peaceful life can be. 

We started our visit to Statesville at Jim Hopkins’ Resettlers Antique Mall.  That’s where I found a real old fashioned phone booth for Clark Kent.  As he can’t find them on every street corner these days, I try to keep a running list for him.  Luckily he can fly faster than a speeding bullet, which is helpful since real phone booths are few and far between.  We also found the long lost brother to Eric and Kayla’s Emerson table top radio/phono.  With a little TLC, these guys are going to look like identical twins.  Thanks to Amy, who is the self-appointed lackey, we got some really great deals and the scoop on each item we bought.  Our favorite purchase of the day was the B-C Chart Printing Outfit pictured above.

Heading downtown, we found Westmoreland Antiques & Collectibles housed in the former Woolworth’s Five and Dime Store on South Center Street.  Owner, Dot Westmoreland and her granddaughter were busily relocating items from a recently sold dining room table soon to head to its new home where it will bring the family together sharing many a meal and celebration.  Dot is originally from Texas and after living in Charlotte she decided to make Statesville her home.  With 18,000 square feet of antiques and collectibles at affordable prices, be sure to allot yourself plenty of time to browse.   

 Available at Westmoreland Antiques & Collectibles

Available at Westmoreland Antiques & Collectibles

Next we headed on down to The Shoppe.  While it is a bit smaller, don’t let the size fool you.  Owner, Sandy Josey, has filled every available inch of space from floor to ceiling with unique items just waiting to be picked.  Walking in the front door, we didn’t expect we’d be there long.  Surprisingly, looking and gabbing made for a very enjoyable visit lasting much longer than we had anticipated.  Rumbling and grumbling stomachs finally dragged us out the door in search of food.

Looking for a local lunch destination, we pulled in to the Boxcar Grille parking lot.  They have so many choices on the menu, you would be hard pressed not to find something to your liking.  Starting off with sweet tea that finally was as good as Grandmama’s, we split a burger and a grilled chicken breast sandwich.  Both were delicious.

With our stomachs silenced, we had one last stop to make.  Antiques & Things on Taylorsville Highway.  Owner, Linda Bollinger, calls her shop the ”best kept secret in Iredell County.”  We enjoyed talking with the Linda who was on duty as we searched through their treasures.  There is a gorgeous yoyo quilt just waiting for the right person to take her home and love her.  Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of it, but then I’m not sure a photo would really do it justice. 

(Currently I have not found a website or Facebook page for The Shoppe or Antiques & Things.  I  will update with links when I find them.)

THYMES REMEMBERED GOING HOME FROM THE BEACH

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On the last day of our beach vacation, my coffee and I were not alone on the porch.  As the others noticed the little boat emerging from the horizon holding its own in the choppy water, I bet them dollars to doughnuts that it would pull up in front of our house, circle a few times and then drop anchor.  Then I upped the wager, adding that a white pickup would then appear on the beach and park in front of the house next door.  I’m still waiting for my doughnuts, Krispy Kreme - HOT NOW - please. 

Keeping our eyes on the boat, fins suddenly appeared in the water.  In the midst of reading The Lowcountry Summer Trilogy by Mary Alice Monroe, I felt like I was on Sullivan’s Island watching Delphine and her pod frolic in the ocean.  The largest group of dolphins any of us had ever seen swam past, dipping and diving and a few even leaping out of the water topping off our vacation with a bit of Surfside magic.

As the aquatic entertainment came to an end, we reluctantly headed inside to pack and clean up.  After finding a new home for the unopened six-pack of Coors Light we were ready to hit the road.  The Great One and I have traveled the road between Fort Mill and Myrtle Beach more than a few times but this time just outside of Florence, he saw an Antiques sign we had never noticed before and since we were not all that anxious to get home and unpack, pulled in.  Following the signs, we drove past the house, past the event venue, down to the barn.  As no one was there, we turned around and were heading back to the highway when the 4-legged welcoming committee of 2 along with their mistress intercepted us and led us back to the barn.    

Walking into the barn with Marshall Yarborough, the owner of Thymes Remembered Antiques and Collectibles, we had no idea of the treasures awaiting us.  This is definitely not your routine run of the mill antique/vintage shop.  There was a huge beautiful old stained glass window, a ledger of original CocaCola store order pages, wooden crates, a handmade wooden box, tools, figurines, quilts, books and furniture.  And while all of these brought oohs and ahs, the best part of our visit was our conversation with Marshall.  She told us so much information about so many things, not just the items in her barn, but collecting in general, the history of her property and even Winona Place Events where she hosts weddings, celebrations, and corporate events.

The Great One has gotten interested in wooden crates and found one to his liking.  I fell in love with a handmade wooden box.  The outside of the box had been covered with stickers by the grandson of the original owner, but what piqued my interest was a parking permit thumbtacked to the inside of the top.  It had been issued by the US Army for Thomas England General Hospital in Atlantic City, New Jersey allowing parking anywhere in the city.  When we got home and researched this parking permit, I was totally surprised by the background history. 

The mention of Atlantic City, New Jersey usually conjures up visions of the boardwalk, casinos, lavish night life and of course, the Miss America Pageant.  However, in 1942, Atlantic City was occupied by the military and became known as “Camp Boardwalk.”  According to the Atlantic City Free Public Library website, thousands of men and women of the United States Armed Forces were trained, served and recovered from wounds suffered during World War II at Camp Boardwalk.  Thanks to “the devoted citizens of Atlantic City and Atlantic County” over 300,000 soldiers who were housed in Camp Boardwalk were welcomed and made to feel at home.  The Boardwalk hotels and resorts were renamed and repurposed to house and care for the military.

Thomas England General Hospital (formerly the Haddon Hall Hotel) became the largest hospital in the US, specializing in amputation and neurosurgery.  It was the largest amputee center in the world, had 6 operating rooms and 58,000 patients were treated during its three-year tenure.  It provided prosthetics, “patient reconditioning” and basic training for Army nurses.  When the Army left Atlantic City in 1946, the hospital returned to its former function as Haddon Hall Hotel.  In 1978, Resorts International established a casino on this site.

Thanks to Tom Brokaw we call the generation that grew up during the Great Depression and then fought in World War II or supported the war effort at home the Greatest Generation.  The more I read about the war years, the more admiration and respect I have for these incredible folks.  The Greatest Generation?  Absolutely, without a doubt!

COAST TO COAST IN MYRTLE BEACH

Alone on the porch sipping my morning coffee watching for the sunrise that never came, my overly active paranoid imagination kicked into high gear.  Out of the gray mistiness of that sad horizon a small boat came speeding toward shore.  Slowing to a mere crawl just past the breakers in front of our house, it circled a few times, threw out its anchor and remained long after I got tired of watching it. 

Looking towards the pier, I spied a white pickup truck blinking it’s headlights as it drove quietly down the beach and halted just to the right of our house.  The driver turned off the ignition and sat nearly motionless until a very tall woman carrying a large sack who was most inappropriately dressed for a beach stroll on a September morning passed by his truck.  Simultaneously, the truck driver quickly slipped from the driver’s side door and moved behind the truck. 

Suddenly, from the opposite direction, another woman appeared.  The two women spoke and with a glance toward the ocean disappeared from view.  Creeping to the edge of the porch, I caught sight of them again as they hurried across the public access walkway. 

The driver climbed back into his truck heading off down the beach, the boat pulled up its anchor disappearing quickly back into the horizon and I was left concocting the first chapter of the inaugural book for my coast to coast spy novel series.  My lead character, a recently retired military intelligence officer would find that his long overdue retirement was short-lived.  After a week vacationing on the Atlantic coast, he finds himself lured back into the world of espionage supposedly for just one final mission and eventually finds himself floating in a raft in shark-infested waters off the Pacific coast.  Now isn’t that a quintessential example of coast to coast?

Well, in the Myrtle Beach area, Bryan Wester has brought a whole new meaning to the term.  He owns and operates Coast To Coast Antiques Gallery in Myrtle Beach and in my opinion, we definitely saved the best ‘til last.  According to Bryan, he started out as the kid, then the young guy, transitioned to the tall guy and these days is considered the old guy.  In other words, he’s been in the business most of his life.  His antique gallery is light and bright and filled with furniture and display cases housing anything you could possibly be searching for as well as a lot of things you never even thought about.  His shelves are full, but arranged so that we had no problem seeing each piece individually from multiple angles. 

You can pretty much find anything your little heart desires at Coast To Coast, but your best find will be Bryan.  He welcomes the opportunity to share his boundless knowledge and educate his customers, who can’t help but become his friends.  He’ll talk about your favorite subject or point out something that will get you hooked on a new subject or two, as well.  He knows the history and the stories behind every item in his store and relishes the chance to share them. 

Back in the days before American Pickers fame, Mike and Frank stopped in at Coast To Coast.  Mike was in awe of the quality and abundance of Bryan’s treasures while Frank, as always, was searching for bundling opportunities.  

These days, Bryan uses his Facebook page on a regular basis not only to promote his gallery, but to educate the curious as well.  Want to know more about Civil War weapons and relics?  How about art glass, figurines, furniture, MIOJ, or dolls?  Check out his Facebook page and you’ll find yourself wanting to delve deeper into these subjects. 

Next time we’re in the Myrtle Beach area, we just might spend a day out of the sun, basking in the lights reflected in Coast To Coast display cases instead.  I’ll have plenty of time to watch the early morning beach antics to feed my “paranoidly-vivid” imagination.  My spy guy is going to need some sidekicks maybe in the form of old friends who just happen to be staying in the house next door disguised as Tim Conway and Harvey Korman wannabes brushing up their comedy routine in the off season beach town.  As luck would have it, they are masters of deception, creative geniuses and graduates of the Jethro Bodine Double Naught Spy School, which they attended on the Buddy System.

WAZE LEADS THE WAY TO VINTIQUES ANTIQUE AND VARIETY MALL IN MYRTLE BEACH SC

As our beach vacation drew to a close, we headed to Myrtle Beach in search of some great antique/vintage malls and with the assistance of the Great One’s newest favorite app, Waze, found Vintiques Antique and Variety Mall.  How do we love Waze?  Let us count the ways.  First of all, she is so pleasant.  Never ever does she grumpily announce “RECALCULATING – What is wrong with you people?  Have you not learned left from right yet?  Maybe you shouldn’t even be behind the wheel.”   Waze got us there easily avoiding the usual Beach traffic.  Who knew getting there would be so easy?  Had we known, we would have gone sooner.

Entering Vintiques as first time visitors, we headed to the counter where Russell gave us the lay of the land helping us to strategically plan our search.  We were barely getting warmed up, when we came across a 75% off booth.  Could this be reality or just a fantasy?  Believe it or not, the entire stock of this particular vendor was 75% off the marked price – a deal too good to pass up, so we didn’t.  It’s a wonder we’re not still there. 

In a booth further back, we came across a Victrola cabinet repurposed as a bar.  Of course, I had to have pictures.  You never know when we might expand our horizons and try our hand at one of these.  It’ll probably be a while since we have 4 console phono/radios in the garage as well as my Minnesota Sewing machine cabinet still waiting for those cooler fall temperatures.

Vintiques is not your run of the mill antique/vintage mall.  There are nooks and crannies filled with treasures inviting exploration.  Don’t forget to look up.  We almost missed a large antique all wooden tricycle suspended from the ceiling - so rare that determining its value is proving to be quite a task.  Near the front we found an antique glass/wooden physician’s cabinet with instruments and an old US Post Office counter/window, complete with rows of PO Boxes on either side, awaiting a new postmaster.  While a stack of vintage pennants recognized the sports fanatic walking past and lured him over noting there was a team for everyone. 

Are you needing a trip down memory lane?  Vintiques can provide that, too.  Their stock is ever changing and includes antique, vintage and repurposed items.  They are willing to buy, sell, or trade and if they don’t have what you are looking for, I am willing to bet they will know where you can find it.  After spending a good part of the afternoon with Heather and Russell, they pointed out other stores and flea markets to include on future trips.

SEA ISLAND SEASONS FOR THE FAMILY CHEF

The second Sad Blister is our family chef possessing the foodie’s Midas touch.  She can take a turkey carcass or a hambone and turn them into the most delicious pots of soup you’ve ever tasted.  But don’t fill up on that soup just yet, because her desserts are phenomenal and you will definitely kick yourself later if you missed the opportunity to indulge.  So when I found a copy of Sea Island Seasons, a cookbook published by Beaufort County Open Land Trust at the White Owl in Mt Pleasant NC, and explained to it that I was going to take it to Cookbook Heaven, where it would be read from cover to cover and used time and again, it jumped into our basket.  Being in near pristine condition, it doesn’t look like this cookbook ever saw much action in anyone’s kitchen.  I doubt that Deedee will let it lay dormant for long.   

The last time we went to the White Owl, it had just moved into its new location and along with a huge crowd, we searched for treasures but when we saw the checkout line snaking in and out and down and around, we decided we would just be lookers that day.  This time, the crowd was manageable and most of the empty booths have been filled.  We found more than a few goodies.  My favorite was a MIOJ Uncle Sam figurine.   

That is, until we were checking out, when The Great One mentioned that we had seen a really pretty Art Deco night stand but the price was marked “firm” and we weren’t willing to pay the asking price as the piece had a bit of damage.  While most places won’t bother to contact the vendors regarding a below-asking-price offer when a piece is marked “firm,” the White Owl ladies are always willing to ask.  As they had given us a map when we entered, it should have been a no-brainer to make note of the location of the nightstand in question, but we won’t get into that.  Fortunately, the White Owl folks know their stock, which vendor it belongs to and the quickest path back to that booth.  We found it, they called, and a satisfactory deal was made.  Now we just need to figure out how to repair a small spot of damaged veneer. 

After all of that, we were starving and the White Owl ladies also pointed us in the right direction for lunch - Buddy’s Place.  Our timing was perfect.  The lunch crowd had come and gone and the dinner crowd had not kicked into gear yet.  He enjoyed a flounder dinner including fried okra and I had a rib eye sandwich with potato wedges.  We left barely a crumb - the Great One may have licked his plate clean.  Not only is the food delicious, but the staff is friendly and welcoming - visit them again we will. 

Their menu not only has plenty of options for lunch and dinner, but provided us with our next destination as well – Grammy’s Attic which is located not far from Buddy’s Place.  We had never heard of Grammy’s Attic so decided to check it out.  From the outside, we thought it would be a tiny little shop.  We stand corrected.  It was well worth the stop.  The Great One found a mill crate marked BE Mills, Rt 2 Campobello SC and I found Lego games that include banana trees and monkeys for our 35-year-old Lego aficionado.

Unfortunately, there were not enough hours in the day to make a stop at Ruffin’s Roost, also located in Mt Pleasant.  We’ll have to start there next time. 

If you’re looking for something to do the weekend of September 19th, check out the Huge Outdoor Yard Sale/Swap Meet at Grammy’s Attic on September 19th and Owl Fest at the White Owl September 19th & 20th from 7 AM to 7 PM.  While you’re in Mt Pleasant drop by Buddy’s Place for lunch.

AGELESS TREASURES FOUND IN CONOVER NC

In our quest to suppress midlife crisis and overcome empty nest syndrome, we find ourselves constantly out searching for ageless treasures.  You know, the things that your parents and grandparents were tasked with protecting by previous generations, handed down to you and intended for you to pass on to your children and grandchildren.  Many times we come across handmade items - the products of many hours of blood sweat and tears.  To see them wind up in garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, flea markets and malls just breaks my heart.  Somebody poured a lot of love and time into those items and it’s a shame they have fallen out of their family trees, no longer to be cherished by the hands that were meant to hold them.

Last weekend, our GPS decided to take the Great One and his faithful sidekick to Conover, North Carolina or “Kinaver” as she calls it.  Obviously she was never taught a,e,i,o,u and ah,eh,ih,oh,uh by the good nuns.  However, she said, “Remember it you will, when we get there” and she was right.  We first found Ageless Treasures Antique Center back in March on our way home after striking out in Hickory.  It was the highlight of our day then and it ranked up at the top again this time.  

There was so much to see, we found it necessary to divide and conquer.  We were barely in the door when the cutest little pair of southern bell salt and pepper shakers sashayed up to us in their hoopskirts and poured on the southern charm.  Now, who could resist that?  But having only just arrived we weren’t ready to commit until they just happened to mention that they were Made In Occupied Japan.  Well, I don’t have to tell you that they came home with us.

If I was in the market for a Hoosier cabinet, I wouldn’t have come away empty-handed.  They have quite a collection from which to choose.  But our kitchen’s borders are not porous and I can’t figure out a way to fit anything else in there.  Of course, maybe I could get rid of the stove and microwave and put a Hoosier in their place.  Maybe I’ll give some serious thought to that.   

And when was the last time you saw a rocking duck?  It was a first for me.  But the best find of the day was a Philco console radio/phono.  Yes, another one.  But this time, I was the one who insisted on bringing this one home. 

TREASURE HUNTING IN TROY WITH A LOOK BACK

Sharing a name with the woman whose face launched a thousand ships, I decided it was high time we visited Troy on one of our picking extravaganzas.  Of course, I’m talking Troy, North Carolina and although I am a Helen I definitely wasn’t named after Helen of Troy. 

I was named after my aunt/godmother although I’m not sure I ever heard anyone call her by her given name.  Her Uncle Frank called her his “little buddy” because she would sit and listen to ballgames on the radio with him and thus, family and friends forever after called her Buddy. 

With two older brothers and four older sisters as well as cousins, I’m sure there was never a dull moment in the big house on the Island.  She was the inspiration for the school bus driver, Ms. Fanny, in Dorothea Benton Frank’s first bestseller, Sullivan’s Island. Yes, she really did have the bus riders saying their Hail Marys many a morning on the way to school.  So they can thank her for their Get Out Of Purgatory Early cards when they arrive. 

Because I just could not continue the exercise in futility that watering what is left of our lawn has become, we headed down the road bypassing Locust and Albemarle seeking the treasures of Troy.  Our GPS pleaded for our attention as we passed each of our usual stops assuming that the heat had further scrambled our already addled brains.  Lula Lancer knew better and continued strumming her ukulele and wiggling her hips as she enjoyed the pretty ride between Albemarle and Troy.

Front Porch Pickin’ Vintage Emporium was our first stop (it seems we do have a thing for front porches, doesn’t it) where we found Carol Sasser and Cathy Troublefield restocking their booth, A Look Back.  I did manage to get a picture of the booth before they began their Halloween transformation.  I understand it may be a bit frightful when they get finished. 

This duo specializes in “retro junk” and have had booths in other antique/vintage malls as well.  As Carol put it, there isn’t much storage space left at home and her kids have begged her not to leave her collections to them, so it’s time to part with some of her treasures and send them home with folks who really love them. 

The store just opened in April and while the front section is fairly full, they still have room for more vendors in what they call the “Back Porch.”  However, don’t let the name fool you, this back porch is  indoors, and even on a hot August day, it made for cool and comfortable picking.  Vendors stock a wide variety of goods from antique, vintage, retro and new treasures as well as one-of-a-kind creations by local crafters, artists and artisans. 

To keep stomach growling at a minimum, snacks and drinks can be purchased to stave off hunger pangs while you hunt for your must-have treasures.  The Great One had his eyes on a crate filled with Karen’s Fried Apple Pies.  Had it been later in the day, I’m sure he would have gotten one for the ride home. 

Following them on Facebook will keep you in the loop.  They post information about sales and future events such as their first ever Porch Fest on September 12 from 9-6. 

After leaving the Front Porch, we backtracked to Troy Antique Mall located downtown.  Walking in the front door, we were expecting a quaint little Main Street store front.  We were truly amazed by how large it really is.  Once inside, we found high-end antiques as well as more affordable vintage and retro items, jewelry, toys, books, china, etc.   While we didn’t find anything begging to go home with us on this visit, we’ll definitely swing by again the next time we’re in Troy.  Maybe something will grab us and not let go.


MOORESVILLE NC - AN AMERICAN CLASSIC LOST N FOUND IN A CHICKEN COOP AT LAKE NORMAN

If you had told me years ago that I’d find myself on a hot August afternoon in a chicken coop, I would have declared you had the wrong girl.  You see, I’ve never been a chicken coop kind of a girl.  However, this weekend I found myself in the middle of Chicken Coop Antiques & Home Décor in Mooresville, North Carolina and loving every minute in it. 

As the Chicken Coop just opened in July, with a grand opening on the 4th, this was our first visit, but it definitely will not be our last.  It was the perfect place to cool off while scoring our most unique find of the day.  Our next visit will be on the first Saturday of the month when the Coop has their Antique Yard Sale.

Be sure to stop in and visit with Alan and Brie Cagle.  They have some items you won’t find anywhere else.  As well, they are always looking for more unique items to sell.  So, if you have advertising, pedal cars, wagon wheels, old toys or bottles, license plates, gas pumps, vintage bicycles, or juke boxes give them a call 980-521-1874.  They buy, sell, and trade and they have a long wish list including many other categories. 

So what did we find in the Coop today?  Well by now you know I’m a sucker for anything marked “Made In Occupied Japan.” I know, you’re thinking what’s so unique about that.  Well, they had a peacock pocket warmer with the original box, directions, a velvet carrying bag, and the little measuring cup for the fuel.  This is the first MIOJ we have found in the original box.

Before we found our way to the Coop, we had visited Lost N Found Vintage Mall and American Classic Antique Mall.  The pinball machine I wrote about a while back is no longer in residence at American Classic, having found a new home, but there was plenty to see.  I know you’ll find it hard to believe that the Great One found a bank and of course, it has no key.  This is also a National Recording Safe Company traveling teller type bank.  This one will hold $24.90 in change and has an opening on top for rolled dollar bills.  However, it is so heavy empty, I can only imagine what it would weigh when full.  Of course, if he puts any money in, it’ll take more than a rainy day to get it out.  Maybe he should just use it for a paperweight instead. 

At Lost N Found we found a dark green siphon seltzer bottle.  Since we rarely find any of these, much less a green one, we knew we weren’t going to walk away empty-handed.  Green must be our lucky color because after getting to know Barbara, who was holding down the fort, she contacted the owners and got us a really good deal.  When you visit Lost N Found, check out Barbara’s booth, Brown Eyed Suzy, for items, particularly jewelry, made with vintage bits and pieces bringing the past to the present and launching it into the future.

We didn’t pay much attention to the printing on the bottle at the time, but it turns out our lucky bottle is from Argentina.  While the Argentinians have always loved their soda water, nowadays folks there like to order “sifon de soda,” which is a bottle of seltzer water along with their wine allowing them to mix their own refreshing wine spritzer.

No visit to Mooresville would be complete without stopping at Lake Norman Antique Mall, which is where our day began, mainly because I remembered their more than ample air-conditioning, a high priority in August.  I guess it’s been one of those days where it was easier to start at the end and work my way back to the beginning. 

1964 - SUMMER OF THE BLUE BASS WEEJUNS

In the Summer of 1964 the Bishop England High School Class of 1968 was preparing to enter the hallowed halls on Calhoun Street as freshmen and among them was my sister, Patty.  With her required summer reading accomplished, her uniform skirts in the process of being made, the green blazer and Peter Pan collar white blouses purchased, all she had left to do was find that perfect pair of shoes and in her mind, that was a pair of Bass Weejuns – not just any pair mind you, but a blue pair and so the search began.

First stop was Condon’s Department Store at King and Warren.  The only store I had ever been in that had a “skyway” connecting the two buildings on opposite sides of the street.  During the Christmas holidays it was transformed into a mini North Pole complete with a live Santa.  However, in the heat of a Charleston August, we found no elves nor any blue Bass Weejuns.  (Perhaps there was no such pair in existence.  Maybe they were just a figment of her imagination.) 

But it was no big problem.  Kerrison’s and Belk’s were nearby and certainly one of them would have her shoes in stock.  Unfortunately, neither one did.  What’s a girl to do?  These days, she would whip out her iPhone, connect to the internet, search “blue Bass Weejuns” on Amazon, click on the best deal, choose overnight delivery and in less than 24 hours, her heart’s desire would be cheerfully delivered to her doorstep by FedEx’s finest.  There is more than one problem with this scenario.  In 1964, there were no iPhones, nor an internet.  An Amazon was a female warrior found in Greek mythology and FedEx was not even a “light bulb moment” yet.   

Suffering such great disappointment in Charleston, the only thing to do was to head out to “the front porch of the Lowcountry” also known as Walterboro.  Now you’d think that if you couldn’t find them in Charleston, your chances of finding them in the small town of Walterboro would be slim to none.  However, Walterboro was home to Warshaw’s Department Store and Warshaw’s had everything.  If they didn’t have it, then you really didn’t need it.  August was as hot back then as it is now, so 50 miles in a car without air-conditioning was no treat. 

Recently, we made the trip from Charleston to Walterboro with Jonathan and Joanna to check out Walterboro’s historic downtown antique shops. Fortunately, the truck’s AC worked just fine.  I’m afraid we are truly spoiled.

Among the shops we visited was Antiques and Collectibles of Walterboro, LLC.  I’d be lying if I said I recognized the destination of our long ago Weejun-hunting expedition.  However, we were in the old Warshaw’s Department Store building (the name on the outside gave it away).  So once again, the search was on for a pair of blue Bass Weejuns.  Of course it’s no longer Warshaw’s so I really did not expect to find them this time - unlike the visit in 1964 when Patty returned to the car victorious with her coveted pair of blue Bass Weejuns and thus, began her high school days in style.  Instead I came away with the sheet music to Music Box Dancer, a fitting surprise for the family musician.

SUNNY SLOPE PEACHES – “THE LEADER”

With temperatures in the mid to upper 90s consistently for quite some time now, we knew we wanted to head out picking somewhere already known as a “cool” (as in amply air-conditioned and willing to use it) location.  Outdoor flea markets won’t be on our list any time in the near future, at least not until the mercury starts dropping considerably. 

As we were getting such a late start, we decided Catawba River Antique Mall was probably our best bet. No need to stop for the obligatory breakfast as we had feasted on fresh tomato sandwiches at home for lunch and no need to hook up our GPS - I’m sure she was happy to spend the hot summer day hidden away in the inner sanctum rather than on the dashboard in the blazing hot sun.  Lula Lancer the Hula Dancer, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, but at least she’s dressed for the heat.  Guess I better remember to make her a little coat this winter – a grass skirt and coconut bra don’t do much to keep the winter chills away.

It seems Catawba River Antique Mall has made more than a few changes since our last visit, most notably a venue space including tables, chairs and linens for wedding receptions.  The River Café has been replaced by Peace and Hominy Bar-B-Que, offering lunch selections including barbeque with their special-recipe sauces.  Some vendors were offering summer sales and others were rearranging. 

While the wooden floors are better on the Great One’s back, eventually he needed to sit a spell and so began the search for the perfect chair.  Too hard, too soft, too low, too high, too narrow - but then he found one that was just right and so I left him and continued wandering in and out of booths in search of ever elusive treasures, sadly coming up empty-handed. 

Although he was sitting, the Great One was far from idle.  Just a couple of feet from his chair was a crate full of picture frames.  Definitely not his cup of tea, but back in its day, instead of picture frames, the crate held “Tree ripened peaches fresh from Sunny South Carolina.  Grown and Packed on our Sunny Slopes in Gaffney, South Carolina.”  (Remember that giant peach?)  Not only were the slats on both sides stamped as in the quotes but each end sported a full color label, as well.  Other than what looked like some good-sized splotches of melted wax on one side, the crate was in pretty good shape.  I’ll have to say the Great One has a pretty good eye.

Doing a little research, I found the website and FB page for Sunny Slope Orchards in Bridgeton, New Jersey.  Now what does that have to do with our peach crate from Gaffney? Well, it seems that in 1928, Vincent Caggiano and his oldest son, Tony bought 126 acres of land in Bridgeton and thus began Sunny Slope Farms.  In 1943, three of Vincent’s sons came to Gaffney where they expanded the family business.  Today, the farm in Bridgeton is still operating, but the Gaffney farm was closed in the mid-1990s.  While Sunny Slope has incorporated some new techniques, they prune and thin their trees by hand continuing to produce high quality peaches for their customers.

So the Great One got out his little hammer and gently tapped a few loose nails back into place and I got out the hair dryer and a plastic scraper and loosened up and removed the wax.  Our Sunny Slope peach crate now looks as good as new, but I won’t be putting any peaches in it.  Maybe one day I’ll tell you about my experience with a basket of peaches decades ago.

WELCOME TO THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE – ASHLAND VA

 

After a more than ample lunch at Trackside Grill in the Center of the Universe (as some folks in Virginia call the town of Ashland), the Great One and I decided that we’d best get ourselves in gear and at least walk across the tracks and the down the street.  I knew, that wasn’t going to compensate for the humongous club sandwiches and heaping servings of fries topped off with copious amounts of sweet ice tea we had just ingested, but at least it was better than continuing to sit idly watching the trains go by.  I’m talking real trains.  They have close to 50 trains a day go through town.  We saw both passenger and freight trains glide by while we devoured our lunch. 

Some say they call Ashland the Center of the Universe because of its central location along the Eastern Seaboard and others because of its central location in Virginia.  But according to the town’s website, it is also the intersection of two of the nation’s longest bike routes giving it yet another claim on the COTU title.

We made our way across the tracks at the pedestrian walkway.  Luckily there were no trains in sight.  I doubt we could have kicked our speed up a notch to clear the tracks in time.  We were doing good just to be moving at that point.  We wandered down S Railroad Avenue past various restaurants and shops until we came upon a shop whose windows were filled with trains of the toy variety. 

Now, I’m sure there are railroad aficionados out there who take issue with me calling them toys.  I only use that designation to differentiate them from the larger ones we had seen on the tracks just mere steps away from the door of Tiny Tim’s Toys.  It certainly wasn’t our typical picking destination, but you can’t leave a railroad town without checking out the local train lover’s dream store, so of course we stopped in to browse. 

Knowing very little about trains in general we looked rather lost, when Suzanne, the owner, came to our rescue.  She graciously took the time to point out the finer points of the railroad collector’s world.  She showed us what to look for, gave us the names of books to refer to and showed us some of her own photos.  (Did I mention that she is also a Lego Maniac?  Click the link below to see her Lego/Train video.)

We had never really run across any trains during our picking adventures, that is until last weekend.  Stopping in at The Raggedy Man, front and center on his counter were 3 Lionel Lancaster and Chester Railroad/The Springmaid Line cars in their original boxes.  According to The Raggedy Man himself, it seems that when Lionel began manufacturing these cars, they thought the Lancaster and Chester Railroad was located in Pennsylvania.  Once they realized their error, they discontinued these models.  Then at the Waxhaw Antique Mart we came across a few more train cars.  These were older but without original boxes.  Guess we better get those books and start educating ourselves.  I wonder if the trains had always been around but we were just oblivious to their existence.

WHAT A COBBLER THIS PEACH WOULD HAVE MADE

If you have ever traveled I-85 through South Carolina between exits 90 and 92, then you undoubtedly have seen The Peach.  It’s a bit hard to miss.  Since the 1980’s this majestic water tower has graced the sky above Gaffney with its presence rising above the trees and causing more than a few motorists to wonder if maybe they have been behind the wheel just a bit too long.  However, if you’re not from around here, then you may remember it from Season 1 Episode 3 of Netflix House of Cards as Frank Underwood dealt with a death in his district attributed to The Peach.

The original paint job was the artistic endeavor of Peter Freudenberg.  After studying many a local peach, he climbed into the bucket of a bucket truck and rising 13 stories in the air using 50 gallons of paint in 20 colors mixing the colors as he went, turned the large steel sphere into what he felt was the perfect rendition of a Carolina peach.  Good enough to call to mind the feel of the fuzzy skin and the sticky sweet peach juice dripping down your arms on a hot summer’s day. 

As the textile industry was winding down, the Powers That Be in Gaffney decided the town needed a new identity and what better way to represent South Carolina’s top producing peach region than a giant peach.  After all, in those days South Carolina was producing more peaches than the neighboring Peach State – aka Georgia.  Over the years, the Peach has brought not only local and regional fame but national and international recognition as well.  In the 2006 Reader’s Digest America’s 100 Best, The Peach was listed in the Adventures section and according to RoadsideAmerica.com, it was listed as Steel Tank of the Year in 1981.

Recently, folks were concerned that The Peach had fallen out of favor and was in the process of going the way of so many other relics from our past.  But it’s not going anywhere, it was only being prepped for a facelift.  All of the old paint had to go courtesy of sandblasting, then the tank had to be primed and then, Eric Hinn with a 6-inch roller and 55 gallons of paint in 16 colors set about bringing The Peach back to life.

So with The Peach in mind, we headed to Gaffney on our most recent picking adventure.  However, we never laid eyes on The Peach.  What we found instead was Black Horse Antique Warehouse on Frederick Street.  As luck would have it, Brenda Earls was in the midst of preparations for a 4th of July celebration, which fortunately for us started on the 3rd.  Cookies, snacks and drinks were provided for shoppers as well as special 4th of July sale prices.  What more could we ask for, a winning lottery ticket, maybe? 

Black Horse Antiques is located in a beautiful old brick building, which originally housed a mercantile.  There are original hardwood floors and exposed brick walls.  From the four upstairs windows you can look out over downtown Gaffney.  I half expected a parade complete with a marching band to pass by in the street below.  Light also streams in through the huge showcase double windows on either side of the front door downstairs as well giving this 10,000 square foot store a cozy inviting atmosphere.  They have everything from china, to toys, jewelry, clothes, furniture and everything in between. 

Asking about other shops in the area as we were checking out, David directed us to Pieces From The Past Antiques on North Limestone Street.  Here, we found owner, Gayle White, researching some interesting items and my first MIOJ shelf sitter.  We would have stayed longer, but we wanted to do some visiting in Spartanburg before we headed back home.  The peach sighting would have to wait for another day. 

HERMIT’S HUT AKA BARGAIN-HUNTER’S PARADISE

After a night at the prom – our stay at the Eden Resort in Lancaster, PA coincided with a local high school prom and our room overlooked the ballroom in which said prom was held with twinkling lights and DJ included – we hit the road homeward bound.  Since the Great One and I had never seen the battlefield at Gettysburg, we decided to take the back roads and ride through Gettysburg.  You don’t have to get directions, the highway goes smack dab through the battlefield itself.  Perhaps we will go back when we have time to explore the town and take a battlefield tour.

Continuing on Lincoln Highway, in a little town named Thomasville we came across Hermit’s Hut.  Now, if you are looking for more bang for your buck, this is definitely the place to start.  We had barely walked in the door when The Great One noticed a round oak-top table and some chairs.  Since we really didn’t have room for another table and chairs, we almost passed it by.  That is until we saw the price tag on the table - $55.  Yep, you read that right and that included the 4 chairs.  Now, how could we pass that up?  Honestly, we did try to talk ourselves out of it.  We came up with plenty of excuses but none of them held up, so we put our name on the table and chairs and continued looking.

Maneuvering past the table and chairs, we bumped into a wooden end table with an inlaid leaf design.  Now, did we really need another end table?  Of course not, we have more end tables than you can shake a stick at, but who were we to pass up a $12 solid wood table?  So that came home with us along with a few other goodies – obviously, we couldn’t leave without at least one more bank

I guess I should mention that we were only going as far as Staunton, Virginia and the truck bed isn’t covered, which meant the Great One had to deconstruct the oak table and do some shuffling of the luggage (we always over-pack) and other purchases.  Eventually, after a bungee cord to the nose – sorry about that, dear, perhaps he would have been better off without my assistance – we got everything situated and headed on down the road. 

THE BEST LITTLE FRONT PORCH IN OUR NECK OF THE WOODS

According To Parade Magazine and a lot of other sources, the front porch is making a comeback.  I could have told you that years ago.  Undeniably, the front porch is what sold us on the house we’ve been living in for the past 13 years.   I wouldn’t say it served up much curb appeal the day we first looked at it.  Still under construction, a dumpster and Port-a-Potty blocked what would have been an awesome view of what the proposed front porch that would run across the front of the house wrapping around the side would look like.  Keep in mind we were leaving a house with a very poor excuse for a front porch – uncovered and too large to call just a stoop with a brick wall blocking the view from the front door and making it extremely difficult to move furniture in and out of the house.  This gigantic soon-to-be-porch ushering us into a wide-open foyer had us hooked even before we crossed the threshold.

Many spring, summer and fall evenings found us on the porch along with whatever neighbors had nothing better to do either.  There is something about rocking on the front porch that brings people together.  The Powers That Be should have consulted with us.  With all the wisdom gathered in that space, we surely could have solved all the problems in the world. 

Fourth of July celebrations were epic with group-effort, hours-long fireworks displays.  From this front porch we watched our two younger kids along with all the other kids in the neighborhood progress through school, learn to drive, go off to college and with diploma in hand return to find the real world waiting.  They have learned that that little piece of paper will open some doors, but they have to find the doors, knock on them and walk through them not to the job of their dreams but to the job that will start them on their journey towards that dream.

As much as we love our front porch, it’s not the Front Porch in the title. To find that Front Porch, you have to go South on I-77 to exit 65 in Richburg.  There on Highway 9 you’ll find the Front Porch Country Restaurant and the best meal we have ever encountered – no offense to all the extraordinary cooks in both our families and there are more than a few. 

We had started our day in Fort Lawn stopping in at Main St. Antiques & Design Gallery’s recently opened second location.  As with most newly opened antique malls, they are trying to grow their business and are looking for new vendors.  We did meet a potter from Heath Springs, Patricia Gambino, who was setting up her booth.  She specializes in kitchen items.  Click the link below for Clay Impressions to visit her web site and see her amazing designs.     

From there, we decided to head over to Chester and spent a good bit of time at Antiques at Hall’s.  After working our way from one end to the other, we left with only 3 little Made In Occupied Japan items.  We couldn’t decide if we have gotten too picky or if we just weren’t in the mood for picking and decided heading home was our best option.  

Then we saw the Front Porch.  The Great One and Sara had passed by it numerous times over the golfing years and never stopped so we decided it was high time the Allens checked it out.  It was past lunchtime and too early for supper but we were hungry and disappointed that we had had a less than satisfying day picking and thought that maybe we were in need of some comfort food. 

Just a sip of their sweet tea and we knew we were in the right place.  We didn’t get a good home-cooked meal, we got a fantastic good-old-southern-country-cooked-fresh meal.  Biscuits that were so light and fluffy they actually did melt in our mouths.  I had a chicken breast baked to perfection - moist and tender with just the right amount of seasoning.  He had grilled pork chops, which he raved about.  We shared new potatoes, fried okra, fried squash and green beans and left not a scrap on our plates. 

Then, we made the mistake of asking about their desserts.  Of course, the same cooks make their desserts, as well.  Now after that splendid meal, how could we even think of passing up homemade peach cobbler?  Of course we didn’t, and while anybody with any sense would have gotten just one and split it, nobody ever said we have any sense.  Once again, our dishes went back to the kitchen empty.   

Leaving the Front Porch in a much better frame of mind, we decided to take a walk down Main Street in Fort Mill.  Figuring we could use the exercise, we parked and headed down the street.  It was a beautiful afternoon and with our improved spirits and full tummies it wasn’t long before we found something we “really needed” at The Knife Shop – a Stewart-Warner Console Radio/Phono Model A92CR6.  Because the Bendix still worked, we never could bring ourselves  to gut it.  This one, however, does not work so it’s fair game.