I Must Be An Antique
One weekend my wife and I decided to take a
detour on our way home and stop by some of the
local antique stores. She was looking for a piece
to put in her quilting studio, and since I was
driving, I grudgingly tagged along.
Window shopping isn’t one of my strong points.
I’m more of the “Get what you came for, and go
home” type. Although a little quality time with the
Mrs. is something I didn’t want to pass up. There
wasn’t a whole lot that interested me, other
than the architecture, but on we went from
store to store.
We came across a store front that had the
charm of days gone by. Inside was a long counter that was as antique as the store, full of all kinds of items. The ceiling was original with an ornate tin embossed design that stretched to the back of the store. The entire store was as much an antique as the wares for sale. By now my curiosity was in full swing to see the rest of the building. It originally was the town’s hardware store from around the turn of the last century, and the décor hadn’t changed from its early beginnings.
We made our way around the displays and meandered to the back of the store. Here the store divided into an upper and lower level. She asked me, “Do you want to go downstairs and check it out?” Sure, might as well take the grand tour. The rickety stairs creaked and moaned with every step, and as we reached the bottom floor a large room opened up with what can be best described as a tool guy’s paradise. Hanging from the rafters and on every shelf were tools of every description. Wood, concrete, railroad, gardening, big, small, tools and more tools, and yes… row after row of mechanic’s tools. I must be in heaven. I’ve never seen such a variety of tools in one place before. Shelf after shelf of every type of tool you could think of. Some looked as worn and tattered as the old building, while others looked practically new. In one corner of the basement were several timing lights of different types and sizes. On a hook was a well-used dwell meter hanging by its cords, as well as multi-meters and amp gauges. As I walked around staring at all of the history on these shelves I couldn’t help but smile. I could recall working under the hood of a car with these very same tools, and here they are resting in the basement of an antique store. It was like I stepped back in time, and was reliving all the work I’ve done with them. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic about my chosen profession. By now my wife had drifted off to another part of the store. I’m sure she knew where to find me. It wasn’t likely that I was going to wander too far from here, at least not until I had my fill of looking at all this stuff. “I’ll come find you when I’m ready,” she said as she headed back up those creaking stairs. I waved my hand in her direction as if to say, “I know, I know… go on… I’ll catch up.” Over on one shelf was a small leather covered box. I opened it, and inside was a dial indicator …almost complete. It was lacking the extension rods. Not a problem, I just happened to have a set in my toolbox. The price on the sticker was… ten dollars! I’ve got to get this. On the very next shelf there was a well-worn piston ring groove cleaner. No price tag on it and it still had a layer of grime covering the cutting bit. Not that I’m going to be needing a ring groove cleaner any time soon, but it was one of those things that looked out of place on the shelf. It had to come home with me. After what seemed like minutes, but I’m sure my wife would tell you it was more like hours, I thought I better go find her and take my new found goodies up to that old counter. On the way out I saw a large pile of snap ring pliers. One had the smallest tips on it that I’ve ever seen. Now, that’s something I can use. The tag read… two dollars! Two bucks? Ok, it’s coming with me, too. I found the wife in another part of the store still searching for her one item, which she still hasn’t found. She seemed a bit curious as to what was taking me so long. With a great deal of enthusiasm I proceeded to tell her all about them. Obviously my exuberant tale of my great finds didn’t interest her that much. In a stern voice she said, “Can we go now?” “Ok, let me go pay for these,” I said with a gleam in my eye. I put my best bargain hunter’s face on, and laid my items down on the counter. “I found this dial indicator for ten bucks; it’s missing a few pieces and this snap ring pliers for two, but this other thing you didn’t have a price on it. It’s kind of grungy, needs cleaned up, how about I give you ten bucks for all three?” I said with a smile. The clerk looked at the items I had laid out, and then picked up the groove cleaner. She held it up to her elderly father sitting just off to the side, “What’s this worth, Dad?”
He got up from reading the paper, leaned forward, and peered over his glasses, “Ain’t worth a thing.”
“Well this guy wants to give you ten bucks for all three of these things. I don’t even know what this is, Dad?”
In my haste to make a deal I blurted out, “If you can tell me what this is, I’ll gladly give you the ten bucks for all three.”
The old man leans over the counter, squints a bit and says, “That’s a piston ring groove cleaner, probably from the fifties. I’ve used one many a time,” then sat back down, “Sure I’ll take ten bucks for all three.”
With that I handed the cash to the little lady. As I finished the transaction I walked over to shake the old man’s hand, “Sir, there’s not too many people who would have known what this is. You’ve made my day.” As we drove home, my wife curiously asked what was so exciting about looking at all those tools, especially since I handle tools all day long. With a great amount of ambiguity I said, “Well, they’re tools, dear… you know… tools.” She may not understand my thing for tools, but from now on I’ll keep my eyes open for another place like this and maybe pick up a few more treasures. It was about then, while driving home, I finally realized where I’d been… an antique store of all places… these tools are antiques! That’s when I realized my own plight, its official… I must be an antique as well.