Old Souls in Young Bodies


I’m going to divert from the binder for this post and share with you the marvels of a child’s mind. Summer before last I introduced our oldest granddaughter to the wonders of picking—antique shopping—as she has a fascination with old things, what they were used for and the stories of the people who owned them. Most of all she desired an antique porcelain doll.

I had never been picking until a friend introduced me to it two years ago when we were both looking for wooden boxes with which to create fairy gardens. As we walked (and walked and walked!) through 88,000 square feet and 625 booths at The Depot at Gibson Mill in Concord, NC, I just knew our oldest would enjoy it immensely. Needless to say, she was mesmerized and found the experience totally enjoyable. Around every corner and down every aisle I would hear, “Dandy, look at this!” or “Dandy, I wonder what this was used for?” I could see the gears turning in her head, wondering what life was like for the people who used old sewing machines, phonographs, or cast iron kitchen utensils; what kinds of functions they attended in the costumes of the period; or how in the world a hand-cranked ice cream maker was used. Many times I had to slow down and take her journey through The Depot, not mine. Often I had to warn her that certain items were indeed not antiques, but most of the time she figured that out on her own.

Her passion is fashion design and all the period costumes totally engaged her. She lovingly and tenderly fingered old, lacy wedding dresses, her eyes lighting up at the thought of trying them on but there were so many it would have taken all day. The hats, however, were just begging to be perched upon her head. Out came my camera to capture all the posing and modeling!

Eager to make a smart purchase, she bought an inexpensive antique ring that year as the memento of her first picking experience. No affordable porcelain doll was found, but she made me promise to take her again the following summer.

Which we did. With her little sister. At THREE antique malls! Our first jaunt was in Belmont, NC, at the Catawba River Antique Mall. More oohing and aahing and “Will you buy me this?” and “Can I have one, too?” How can a grandma resist? We found beautiful kidskin gloves, a couple of very nice music boxes, skeleton keys, and old wooden boxes for the keys (and other keepsakes). Our eldest finally got to try on some clothes at that antique mall and found a stunning Asian-style dress that flattered her. The younger one discovered a tiny antique doll dressed in an Italian costume that she just had to give a new home. These purchases were very meaningful since they have both Japanese and Italian heritage

And, yes, we went back to The Depot at Gibson Mill this past summer to fulfill my promise to bring the elder granddaughter back and to introduce our younger granddaughter to the immensity of the place. Wide-eyed with wonder, they both went in search of antique skeleton keys, found what they wanted and looked at all the treasures that facility holds. Right at the end of our trip, lo and behold, before them was the best beloved of all antiques two little girls could want. He immediately captured their hearts with his well-worn fur, one button eye and charming charisma. His imperfections made him perfect and they named him Geronimo and promised to give the old gentleman a loving home with a brand new family. On the drive home, the three of us imagined where this teddy bear had lived and how many people he once belonged to. They promised to write his story and title it “Geronimo’s Journey.”

I will be indulging them and their mama in more antique mall magic in California when I visit next week. Who knows what treasures they’ll find? Geronimo's picture is featured in today's post and next week's blog will show more pics of our picking adventures!