Found treasures

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I love old things; love rummaging around antique stores, dragging my husband through miles of dusty flea markets, and I love plundering yard sales determined to find that “one special something” that will make even the host of the Antique Road Show excited.
“So,” the dapper gentleman says with a crisp British accent, “do you have an idea of what your historic brass medal is worth?”
“No,” I say. “I have never had it appraised.”
“Well-l-l,” the distinguished, mustachioed fellow will smile widely, “This little brass souvenir pin you found in your grandmother’s trunk would sell at auction for….”
Go to commercial. *
True ‘antiquers’ love the hunt about as much as the find. We love to tell the stories about how we found that fragile orange Victorian lamp covered with cobwebs in the corner of a barn about to be torn down, or about the box of mismatched tableware we purchased for $10 at an auction and within minutes identified six pieces of sterling flatware—one spoon alone worth $125! Or about the old Chinese carving bought for $3 at a yard sale which, while not Jade as you had hoped, was antique soapstone, and like-figures sell on EBay for $200! Yes! Nice find.
To some, our home may look like a thrift store, but almost every piece of furniture, every knick-knack or trinket has a story, a sweet memory. It is the history of each family heirloom, each salvaged piece, and each found treasure, which provides a connection to others and their past, and that increases their value. We added the elbow grease, the “sweat equity,” that saved the 19th century pie safe from six ugly coats of paint. We stripped the Federal-style secretary to its original wood, then stained, waxed, and polished, until it, too, could start a new life. And yes, I have even stopped on the side of the street where I picked up a great picnic basket as well as a brass chandelier I spray painted maroon, added little lampshades with dangly crystals and used happily for many years. Behind the stains and grime, a throw-away can become beautiful.
Like some of us. Who need a little polish, a new coat of paint, a new start.
I don’t actively go out searching for folks who need a shoulder to cry on, nor have I cruised street corners looking for the down-and-out, the homeless; but looking back over the years, Bill and I have been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time and have been presented with a number of opportunities to give a hand up, to offer a sympathetic ear, a gift to a struggling missionary, and sometimes a room to a teen whose parents no longer trust them.
There were the years when my daughters were in high school that we never knew who might show up at the dinner table, then the breakfast table, for a few days and once or twice for weeks that became months. My youngest daughter had a magnet or a sign or something that said, “Do you need help? We have room for you.” Looking back, I am so glad she did. As a teacher, I saw many young people who needed someone who would listen and trust. These were “found treasures,” some were salvaged from situations beyond difficult. All have been precious and valuable to our family and certainly to God.
Like those special items added to our home over the years and that now have become part of our “stories,” part of our lives; those who came and went, those who added so much to our lives and are still part of our “sweet memories” even if they are no longer in our homes.
So, here we are. Lessons everywhere. We can learn so much if we just keep our eyes and our hearts open. God reaches out and taps us on the shoulder, gives us a gentle shove, and if we are ready and willing, there stands someone who needs a friend. There waits someone who needs dusting off, shining up a bit, helping over a rough spot. Someone who wants another person who will just listen. We can do that. Happy Hunting.

*That Civil War reunion pin was worth $250!!

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