06 January 2009

Something old, something new...

The following post contains a silfert-style rant. Gestures, facial expressions, and vocal inflections are, of course, absent. The language has been left intact and may be unsuitable for some audiences. Parental guidance is advised.

I have a love/hate relationship with antique shops. The hate part stems from my hyperactive sarcasm gland. It says things like, "Are you out of your freaking MIND? There's no way in HELL I'm gonna fork over that kind of cash for this!"

The sarcasm gland goes into overdrive when the object in question is a 1980's-vintage Salad Shooter. "In the original box!!" Well, BFD! IT IS A PLASTIC SALAD SHOOTER. IT IS NOT WORTH THIRTY-FIVE OF MY HARD-EARNED DOLLARS.

Now if it came in a sandalwood box stuffed with cashmere, yes. I would then fork over thirty-five bucks. But come ON! A Salad Shooter is not an antique! It's a vegetarian with diarrhea! Add to that the fact that there is no remote possibility of my accepting the idea that something that was around when I was a kid is in an antique shop. No, no, no.

Another thing on the "hate" side of my feelings for antique shops is the idea that it's nothing more than legal snooping through someone else's crap.

"Wow, Mildred, look! What kinda loser owns forty-two sets of Howdy Doody salt and pepper shakers?"

"This is your Cousin Sally's booth, Dork Boy."

Yeesh. Here's someone's life, being pored over, scoffed at, and bought for far less than memories are worth. They also hardly ever have yarn.

On the "love" side is the fact that I DO buy stuff. Sometimes it's something cool only to me and the original owner. Sometimes it's a book that makes me drool while still fitting into my budget. The first edition Arabian Nights with Maxfield Parrish artwork does not meet all of these qualifications, but I'm working on it.

This past weekend, Clan silfert was joined by T and E, two fine and funny friends. We visited a cider mill, gorged on doughnuts, and scouted an antique shop. I found a 1916 cookbook, printed in Topeka, that now lives on one of our shelves. In the very back of the shop, I saw something knitted.

Oooh, aaah! Wait a minute. Holy shit. Olive drab wool. And there's a tag in the back.

American Red Cross. According to the handwritten tag, the vest was made in 1944. Oh. My. GOD! Screw the Salad Shooters! Why is this here? Did a soldier wear this? A Red Cross volunteer?

It is in beautiful condition. Minimal felting, and the very few tiny holes have been neatly (and almost invisibly) mended with black thread. The pattern is simple. Cast on at the back bottom, work up with a decrease at the armhole, up to the shoulders, add a second ball of yarn, increase for the neckline, work down to the bottom hem. The side seams have been whipstitched together. The edgings are already worked in. TEN DOLLARS?!

I must be casual. Someone does not know what they have here. Had. This is coming home with me.

It's going to hang in the living room along with the Marine Uniform worn in 1944 by Himself's dad, as soon as I have copied the pattern. I can look at it every day, knowing that someone made this. Someone wore this. This sweater is a year older than my dad. It came off of the needles the year before we raised the flag on Iwo Jima.

It is a piece of history. An artifact, tossed away for ten bucks. My brain hurts, thinking about it. Now I have to think about something else. I love this vest because it is knitted, and because it is connected with history in a very important way. But it is not a family heirloom. Not from MY family, anyway. So...

Do I keep it and make it a part of our family history, or do I give it to a museum where it will be treasured and cared for...

almost as much?


KFG said...

OOOooo...what a find. I think it will be cared and loved at your house. Who else could write such a description? If I saw it in a museum, I wouldn't have near the appreciation I have after reading your post.

Now, if you ever see a 4 oz juice glass with little oranges with green leaves on it, kind of slender with a tiny base, BUY THEM! I'll pay you back!

Mags said...

I'm with the previous poster. Who but yourself would cherish a 'Red Cross' gently worn, olive drab, circa 1944, V-neck sweater?
Happy knitting.

rhubarbwhine said...

Oh, hard question and great find! I love antique markets too. I struggle with sellers not knowing the difference between antique and vintage too, it drives me nuts. (What's a salad shooter? Is that like a lettuce spinner?)

Dianne said...

Keep it, cherish it, hand it down to Junior. You can always put it on loan to a museum for a special exhibit at some point so more people can enjoy it. Heck, already all of us who read your blog have enjoyed it! Hmmm, not the advice you would expect from someone who works in a museum, huh?

Judy said...

Keep it to pass down and loan out to any museum that might be interested and know how to care for it.
At lots of museums it would end up in a box in storage and probably get all moth eaten.

yarndork said...

Whew, for a moment there, I thought you were going to suggest frogging the vest to re-knit into something you'd wear! Thanks, now my heart is beating nice and fast.

Until there's a Knitter's Museum, hang on to it. And when you find a Knitter's Appraiser, let me know. I have a few things...

©Hotbutton Press said...

Hang the sweater, your writing is the real treasure. When are you going to write that syndicated humor column that you market to all the cheesy rural newspapers desperately in need of something good to read? How many are there in the country - 3,000? When?