I have been dealing in Vintage and Antique items for the past several years. I had a small Antique shop, which I closed in 2011, and have had an online store since then, selling goods from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. The years of which I am most fond, are the 1940’s and 1950’s. Everything from those years reminds me of my childhood and simpler times.
My Mother was then, and is still, a passionate Fashionista; her obsession with clothes and accessories is at the core of who she is. Clearly, I missed those genes, but I do understand her love of coordinating color and style. She had closets full of clothes, and hats, handbags, and shoes to match each outfit. As I child, I was fascinated by the enormous collection of costume jewelry spilling out of my Mom’s jewelry boxes and resting on trays on her bureau.It was all so sparkly and beautiful to me.
I still love anything with Rhinestones and glitter. Although I have few occasions now to wear my Vintage pieces, I have always been attracted to the glitzy and gaudy stuff. Whenever I see brooches or earrings laden with White Rhinestones, I think of Marilyn and Grace and Audrey, wearing those spectacular gowns and all that great jewelry. There was real glamour back in those days.
My Mom had numerous yard sales over the years, and I am sure most of the fabulous and outrageous costume jewelry was sold during those events. I truly wish I had all those fantastic earrings now!
The television news this morning had a short piece on Happiness Day, which has apparently been ordered up for later this week. People were urged to spread some good will, and “pay it forward”. Good timing, since the World could use some good cheer after the recent Paris terror attacks.
I started thinking about how I learned that doing for others was part of my job as a human being. Where do we get this? How do our parents impart the value of putting aside our childlike selfishness and acting to help someone else? Do we arrive with this proclivity? I don’t remember my parents talking much about this subject.
Then I remembered an incident from 1959. My Mother was driving us to Boston to visit relatives. She had taken off her costume jewelry earrings and put them in her lap. As we approached the Toll Booth on the Tobin Bridge, my Mother winked at me, and said:”Watch this”. She slowed the car, approaching the booth, and reached into her lap. Then, to my shock and amazement, instead of a dime, she handed the toll taker one of her earrings! What was she thinking? I was both stunned and (being about 9 years old) embarrassed! The gentleman in the booth looked confused, and then his demeanor changed. He broke into a broad grin. “Ma’am, you made a mistake”, he said to my Mom. They both laughed, and my Mother made an apology for the error. She handed him a dime, he laughed some more, and we were on our way.
As we drove forward, I asked “Why did you do that, Mom?”. My Mother smiled. She said, “Honey, do you realize what that man does all day long? He takes dimes from people as they cross the bridge. Imagine how tiring that must be all day. Now, tonight, when he goes home and his wife asks him how his day was, he will be able to say” You know, some crazy lady handed me her earring today!” and they can both have a good laugh.”
I was too young to really understand what a gift this was. Some MTA worker who was probably incredibly bored with his monotonous job had a chance to chuckle the rest of the day. Whatever stories he told himself, and his friends and family, about the scatter-brained lady with the earring were his gift from my Mother. Just a little thing. Unimportant, really. But this teeny act brought a bit of joy into a stranger’s day.
Now I see it. My parents were always doing small things to help other people. My Mom would take me out with her sometimes on Xmas eve to a stranger’s house where I would wait in the car as she dropped off wrapped gifts for some family in need. She would cook and bake for friends who were sick or having a rough time. My Dad would volunteer for various charities to help sick children. He put up lights at the pond across the street and flooded the pond at night to make a skating surface where he would teach kids how to skate and play hockey. He became a Scout troop leader. They really didn’t talk about these things much. They just had a propensity to give because it was the right thing to do. Actions speak louder than words.
Whenever I think of vintage earrings, I remember that moment on Tobin Bridge; and I remember that I can make a difference in someone’s day by simply being aware of what they need.