MIOJ

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. 

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. 

METROLINA EXPO MARKETPLACE - TAKE 2

Even though our fall visit to the Metrolina Expo Marketplace was a bit disappointing, we chalked it up to the horrible weather and decided to give the Metrolina Expo Marketplace Spring Event a shot.  Looking at the weather forecast for the 4-day show, we chose Friday, supposedly the best Mother Nature had to offer, a beautiful early spring day with plenty of sunshine heading our way and no rain in sight.  Do I hear a Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah?   

Because of inclement weather in the fall, the outdoor vendors weren’t able to set up and the vendors in the mall area weren’t much better off than if they had been in tents out in the open.  So we were glad to see sunshine and blue skies as we turned into the parking lot.  Definitely, we were not the only ones who had checked the weekend forecast. There were going to be plenty of shoppers spending money today.  

So we paid the obligatory $20 and started our quest searching with the outdoor vendors just in case Mother Nature decided to throw a little rain our way.  However, she was kind to us and although she huffed and puffed some gusty winds, the tents remained standing and nothing blew away.  Even without a mirror, I could tell it was going to be one of those days when I wish I was a hat person, but then I would have spent the entire afternoon chasing down the hat instead of treasures.  I did notice I was not the only bedraggled-looking soul who was trying to avoid mirrors.

We didn’t have to search too long before we found the cutest little pair of Made In Occupied Japan ceramic kids playing baseball and so we made our first purchase of the day.  This vendor also had some really beautiful end tables made from the drawers of old Singer sewing machines, so we got a little inspiration along with the ballplayers.  Eventually at another booth, we found MIOJ mini vase and that was pretty much the extent of our purchases for the day – unless you count the cinnamon/sugar almonds and the kettle corn on the way out.

More importantly, we spent a good bit of time talking with quite a few of the vendors.  We started off with Mike of Mike’s – N – Gayle’s Toys And Joys Antiques.  He was there in the fall and the Great One bought a dime bank from him.  It is one of the few banks he has that came with a key.  I was flabbergasted when he passed up the opportunity to bring home the motorized Richie Rich Computer Bank from the 60s along with the original box.  Will wonders never cease?

After we left Mike, we found a clock guy and I am more than ashamed to say I cannot, for the life of me, remember his name.  He was so generous with his time, knowing full well that we weren’t going to be paying customers, he still took the time to answer all of our questions.  His obsession with clocks started as a stress-relieving hobby and just kind of got out of hand.  He has restored and repaired clocks of all sizes, styles and makes.  And then and he told us about his radio.  We could have spent the rest of the day talking with him, but we figured he did have a booth to run and finally left him alone so he could sell some clocks. 

We appreciate all of the information he shared and only wish he had not given up the restoration part of his business.  We’ve become attached to a certain Seth Thomas clock that we would love to get restored for its owner.  After a few years in the garage, when I gently brushed away the cobwebs, I was surprised to see that it still looked like a clock inside.  It’s missing a bell and a pendulum and needs some keys for the winding mechanisms, but we’re hoping it can be brought back to life.       

As far as our overall assessment of our Metrolina Expo experiences – I guess we just must not be Expo kind of people.  However, there sure seem to be a lot of vendors and shoppers out there who return time and again, so they must be doing something right.