Life Matters

American Pickers think I am an antique

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One of Hubby’s favorite television shows is “American Pickers.” Mike and Frank travel the country looking for antique treasures. Climbing among the rubble of hoarder’s possessions, they extol the virtues of their “finds.”

They often find the old metal lunchboxes I used to carry with me to Oakland Beach School. “Star Trek! “The Brady Bunch.” “The Dukes of Hazzard.” My favorite part about those lunch contraptions was the thermos into which I could put my choice of drink. A little drinking cup was screwed onto the top of the Thermos (an item often lost and not included in Mike and Frank’s lunchbox search.) Somehow I felt like a big shot pouring my drink into the cup, reminiscent of the way my dad always had a big thermos of hot coffee when we traveled.

Mike and Frank also find an abundance of metal gas station signs; a Mobile sign with the big flying red horse, Texaco with a big red X inside a red circle, Shell inside a big, yellow shell, and Esso with the big tiger reminiscent of Tony the Tiger on Frosted Flakes. Because we used to travel so often, the signs hold a special meaning for me. When traveling in the south, along Route 301, such gas stations were in abundance. So was the horrific fact that African American individuals were treated less than Caucasians. “White Only” bathrooms and seats in diners were the norm. As a child, it was incomprehensible to me that people would be treated that way. Driving by the many crumbling and desolate homes in which African Americans lived was especially saddening, and it was these first impressions that forged my character believing in equal rights for everyone.

A happier part of my childhood was when I was young enough to pedal the little, red metal car similar to those found by Mike and Frank. Pedaling until my legs were sore and pulling the string to ring the bell on the hood, I would steer down the sidewalk feeling like a big shot. Out of my way! Here I come!

Who could forget the little, metal airplanes and cars that were propelled by friction? Or the Lincoln Logs that would keep me as busy as the Lego sets keep today’s children busy. Instead of playing with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans as cowboys on their horses, I would make a house out of a cardboard box, and they would be the parents of a large brood of children (perhaps my first experience with managing a large family.)

Many kitchen items with which I am familiar are found on the show. We had an avocado canister set for our “flour, sugar and tea bags,” along with the matching breadbox. Because my mom didn’t really bake, the flour jar was where we hid the important little items like scotch tape, scissors, pens and little pads of paper. Mom used a food mill to make applesauce and a hand mixer to make cakes. These were not electronic items, but items powered by hand. One of my favorite memories was licking the batter from the twirly things attached to the mixer. These days, eating cake batter with raw eggs would be frowned upon, but in those days it was a real treat. Mom also used a potato masher to make mashed potatoes, which always tasted a little lumpy. For ice, we used the metal ice cube trays with the handle which, when lifted, would jiggle the ice cubes apart. Of course, Mike and Frank would always find the “antique” Pyrex ware, just like the avocado colored bowls and lids we used to use. Oh, how it hurt to have them call these antiques. It wasn’t that many years ago, was it?

Alas, it was. The antiques they find today were common items during my childhood. Which begs the question…if I had hoarded all of the items from my childhood, how much would Mike and Frank give me for them today?

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