Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Antiquated Love

“A house with old furniture has no need of ghosts to be haunted.” ~ Hope Mirrlees

Antiques have been a passion of mine for some time. Those close to me know this. But I never really go into detail about why, exactly. And quite frankly, I'm not altogether sure myself why collecting them fills my insides with a mixture of warmth, mystery, curiosity, imagination, haunting and comfort.

It's the same with classic films and songs ... or fitting covers, like this one I listen to on rainy days: Madeleine Peyroux

It's something that started when I was a kid, always drawn to "old things," whether around my parents' house or my grandma's house. It seemed like what was someone's overlooked junk, was my treasure. But as I grew older, I started searching for particular pieces, phones especially. I have a couple of antique ones now, one from the early 1930s with a brass earpiece ... and another, well ... the story behind this one is interesting.

I'd say at least 15, 16 years ago, I started searching for what is called a "candlestick" phone, which is one of those upright 1920s phones that is sleek like a candlestick with a hook on the side that the earpiece hangs from. I would literally walk into every antique store I came across and search and ask. No one ever said "yes, we have one" — until last month.

It's strange. The two most significant pieces (to me) I've ever found, an old Underwood typewriter, circa 1890s, and this candle stick phone, have been while on vacation ... and often at a time when I was going through a lot or just in the midst of an intense period of self growth — kind of searching, yearning for something to set my heart aflame.

This time was no different.

I was walking with my friend Katie in Savannah last month and we saw an Antique mall. She told me to go in, but I had been ready to pass by, having gotten to a point over the years of thinking I'd never stumbled upon the piece "naturally" and would have to look for one online.

So I walk in anyway, just glance through and am about to leave, when something inside me tells me to ask the woman at the counter anyway. So I do. She practically jumps up "Why yes! We do have one. Let me take you to it!"

If someone could have seen my face, they probably would have had to gently close my slightly parted lips and aghast expression. She explained that an older man came in a week or so ago and asked for that very same piece, specifically, and out of nowhere. She told him they didn't have it because she didn't realize what style phone he'd meant. The owner of the store berated her, since it's a rare piece these days and the guy probably would have paid for it. So as soon as I asked, she knew right away.

I heard all this, but I just kept staring at it ... black, brass, so many conversations once trilled through its mouth and earpiece, trembled through its now tattered phone cord. It was beautiful. It would be a splurge.

But I had to have it.

The woman looked at me and said, "I guess it's a good thing I made that mistake. It was meant to be."

As soon as it was placed in my hands, I felt my heart swell with a thousand emotions. Disbelief the greatest. I mean, this is something I've been searching to find for at least 15 years. In fact, I've had several friends looking for it as well.

Now it's mounted on a stand in my place. And, like my Underwood typewriter, every time I look at it, I feel nostalgic for a time I've never actually seen ... well in this life anyway.

Yet, call it the "old soul" in me, but antiques somehow give me a sense of "home." And to tie in with my quote, they haunt me, too ... but in beautiful ways. I wonder who owned them, what their life story was. In the case of the typewriter — obviously symbolic to my own passion — what words were born through the touch of its keys? What stories were told, letters written ... secrets unfolded?

With the phone, I imagine it may have been in a hotel down south somewhere, witness to various discourse, maybe laughter, tears, tension. I'm not sure why certain pieces pull me in like a moth to a flame, but these ones do.

And now, I've been able to cross one more off my list.

I can only dare to dream where and when I'll find the next ...



  1. i love this story! and i love that you bought it during my wedding weekend down in good ole sa-vaaaan-nah :)

    1. Thanks Claire :-) me, too. Not only was I there for a special occasion, this made it even more meaningful and symbolic <3

  2. You share my love of antiques and of all things vintage...we're "old souls" indeed my friend. Beautiful post.

    1. Keith ... I'm somehow not surprised :-) and thank, fellow old soul.