The antique center: A cool discovery while escaping the heat

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comJuly 10, 2012 

We ducked into an antiques mall to get out of the oppressive heat and emerged, as they say, "repurposed."

I came out with the realization that I, too, am apparently an antique. I'm lucky no one tried to haggle over my worth and buy me.

But I also discovered that I am not alone.

Duke's Antique Center in Lexington, Va., offered a cool diversion during our family reunion in the Shenandoah Valley over the weekend.

I'm used to looking for escapes at family reunions, but not this heat. It followed us up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Heavy-breathing evangelists all over the South are now mad because nobody is afraid of hell.

The antiques mall was a perfect retreat because April, our new daughter-in-law, likes vintage things.

Everything but the fountain of youth was for sale at this 20,000-square-foot emporium occupied by more than 200 dealers.

I can understand finding a box full of "shooters" in an antiques mall. Even in my generation, not many kids got down on all fours to draw a circle in the dirt and shoot marbles for keeps. The shooter is a larger and more exotic marble, but not nearly as entertaining as even the most antique electronic game.

But I can't understand why we saw so many rolling pins. Just a few years ago, people literally survived on biscuits made from scratch with wooden rolling pins. Fluffy biscuits had names like "cathead," and people took two and buttered them while they were hot. Kids poked a hole in the top with a finger and poured cane syrup in it for dessert. Adults sopped up sawmill gravy with biscuits, better to stick to the ribs.

Are homemade biscuits antiques?

Vinyl records and eight-track tapes looked right at home with the stereoscopic viewers that made pictures of the inauguration of Woodrow Wilson appear three-dimensional.

Lots of books were for sale. I hope antique stores aren't going to soon be the only place to buy books. Could books someday be novelties, like commemorative spoons from the Cotton States and International Exposition of 1895?

It made me feel old to see a set of Visions glass cookware by Corning. I had forgotten we owned such a thing in the 1980s. They were transparent so you could see what you were cooking, which was not necessarily a bonus.

But then April found a "Strawberry Shortcake" lunchbox, just like the one she used to carry along on her bicycle to grade school in Texas.

That discovery was as refreshing as a rare breeze on a scorching day: You don't have to be old to be an antique.

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