(12/17/2018)
Since moving to Parkersburg in 2006, Judy and I have picked up a new hobby. We are both retired and naturally have more free time which is great except for having to spend more hours in our doctors' waiting rooms.

Life moves at a slower pace and we now visit antique stores. I enjoy just looking around at everything and usually see things that my parents and grandparents had in their homes as everyday items.

I must admit that I used to make fun of old people who did this sort of thing. I remember thinking that they should "get a life" instead of examining somebody else's old dusty junk.

Well, I realize now that time and the aging process has changed my perspective. I am now that old person who likes to see those long age items as it gives me a chance to revisit the past. You may see me there stumbling around and examining things.

I say stumbling because many times while looking at stuff on shelves, I fail to see larger items sitting on the floor until my size 11 sneakers make physical contact with them. So far, I haven't broken anything including my toes.

The fascinating part of searching antique shops is that I might find a dish from the special set that my Mother cherished and only used when we were expecting company for Sunday dinner.

I sometimes find old bone handled Case pocket knives in the original display cases that were often seen in small town hardware stores. I might find an old unopened cellophane wrapped paper package of Mail Pouch Chewing Tobacco manufactured by Block Brothers of Wheeling, WV just like my Granddad used.

I see many old 33 1/3 LP records in these shops now as they are in high demand as vinyl is making a comeback. Several months ago, I saw glass ashtrays that were blue and square and had the sharp points just like the ones Dad used in the 1950's. Not knowing what I will find in the next isle is rather exciting for me and I can't believe I just said that.

So many of the items seen in the antique shops bring back memories like my Dad's ashtrays and the memories are usually good, but sometimes a little bit sad, and people respond to those memories by buying items that in some way have special meaning for them.

You will occasionally encounter serious collectors searching for specific rare items. They are usually a good resource if you have a question about the worth of something. But be advised, they usually move quickly through the antique shops and don't appreciated being interrupted for long.

Recently, we drove to Marietta, Ohio to an antique shop that we had visited before. I always enjoy the ambiance of the place as it is like stepping back in time. It is just the perfect setting for people to rummage around to find items of the past.

The brick building is old and the wooden floors creak when I walk on them. The building has an odd dusty smell about it that is hard to describe. The shelves are cluttered and the items have much higher prices than what my grandparents would have paid for them back in the day.

On a previous visit, I saw a very distinguished older lady come into the shop accompanied by a much younger man who looked to be her chauffeur. In talking with a clerk, I overheard her say she was looking for a very special set of silverware that was extremely rare because of a limited production run. She wanted it in new unused condition. I remember thinking, "Good luck with that."

But, surprise, surprise, she found it that day and it was in pristine condition.

She paid big money for the complete set in a mahogany case and was very happy with her purchase. As I watched from the window, her driver, probably named James, carried the case to her vintage Cadillac while she held onto his arm.

He put the case in the trunk, then assisted her in getting into the back seat. He gently closed her door, then got behind the wheel and away they went. I remember thinking that lady wore expensive perfume and represented old money.

I always go to the back where the rota-bins and shelves contain old tools like a hardware store circa 1936. For example, on this day I saw brace and bit tools, augers, hand crank rotary drills, several cross cut saws, a corn planter and a Lufkin steel tape line wound in a circular leather case that had a self-contained rewind key. My Granddad would recognize all these tools and be comfortable using them.

I selected an old cobbler's hammer {shoe repair} of uncertain origin that might have been made by a blacksmith. Designed for pounding hobnails into a narrow surface, it had a rough semi- finished look about it and the handle was made of metal with file cut checkering. I hefted it and it felt right and I noted the $6.50 price tag. I decided to buy this hammer and picked it up and carried it with me while looking at other stuff.

Judy has a collection of blue and red willow dinnerware that she has sought out over the years and collected from many different places. I, on the other hand, am not a serious collector, but I do like to look at old rifles.

However, I do have an Underwood typewriter that is actually older than me, three copper teapots, two with glass handles and two old stoneware milk pitchers.

The blue pitchers with cows on the sides are just like the one my Grandmother had. As a kid, I drank a lot of raw milk poured from it. My pitchers were made in Indiana sometime around 1920 and somehow have survived all these years with a few minor chips indicating they had been part of someone's household.

On this day, I was not looking for anything in particular. I just enjoyed walking down the aisles and looking around. When I saw a stack of Dell Comic Books with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry on the covers, I was surprised to see them priced at $7.00 each.

Upon looking closer, I saw the 10 cent original price. That made me remember trading comic books with David Reed whose father, Junior Reed, was the official Jailer at Grantsville in the early 1950's.

The jail was located in the stone building behind the Courthouse. Walking home together from the Grantsville Grade School, Dave and I would stop at the jail {His parents lived there} and I would select several of his comics to take home to read.

Other times, he would walk with me to my house on Hardman Alley and borrow some of mine. That way, we got to read more comics while limiting the cost of them.

About the time I got my driver's license, my Dad put all my old comics in a burlap sack and stored them away upstairs in Grandad's barn. Probably not the best place for doing that, and I sort of forgot about them. Forty five years later when I saw on the internet that people were collecting them, I went to the barn looking for my old comics.

After several minutes of searching, I thought I saw the sack on a high rafter. I got a ladder and climbed up to see what I had. When I opened the sack, I discovered it was full of mice. I was very disappointed, but the mice seemed to be happy living in their comic book kingdom!

Now that I have given you all this background information, I will explain about the missing dollar. When I walked up to the counter with my hammer of unknown origin, I noticed that Judy had already bought a pitcher made by J&G Meakin, Staffordshire, England which she paid for by credit card.

I laid my hammer of unknown origin on the counter and waited for the clerk to give me the total including the inevitable tax. There were people standing in line and she was very busy.

When my turn came, she told me I owed $6.89. It was then that I realized I was carrying a large amount of change in my pocket. I told her I would pay the 89 cents in coins and did so.

Next, I handed her a 20 dollar bill. She went to the cash box and when she returned handed me 13 dollars. I hesitated and said that something didn't seem right with my change. She assured me that I had received the correct amount.

Being the nice guy that I am, I didn't argue with her and gathered up my hammer of unknown origin and Judy's pitcher and left.

After we had put the stuff in the car, we went across the street to a diner called The Galley for lunch. When we were seated, I told Judy that the woman still owed me a dollar.

Judy responded by saying that I should just forget it. She said that if I went back over there and demanded a dollar, it would embarrass the woman, and I would come across to everyone present as being an "old tight wad who squeaked when he walked."

That is a direct quote! I explained that it was the principle of the thing and I should have received my dollar. Judy gave me a thoughtful look and then asked if I was going to leave a tip on the table after we had eaten lunch. I said that I always leave a tip on the table. "Look at it this way," she said," that dollar was your tip to her for carefully wrapping my pitcher and not dropping your hammer."

What? Was my wife trying to be funny?

Losing that dollar was not funny! I failed to grasp her humor in this situation. I explained that I willingly leave tips on the tables, but I don't willingly accept being short changed. What was I missing here?

I seemed to be the only one who realized that I had been treated unfairly and I was starting to get a headache! Judy just smiled and asked, "do you remember what Tom Gainer used to say about you? He told me one time that you were tighter than the bark on a tree." I replied that Tom had said a lot of things about me and some of the things were not true.

Judy continued, "If you go back across the street, it will prove that what he said about you is actually true." Well, I had to think about that statement for a while. Finally, I decided not to go back across the street.

Driving back across the I-77 Bridge toward West Virginia, I said to Judy, "I hope when that woman tallies up all her receipts for the day, she will see that she has a dollar that belongs to me." Judy got real quiet in the car.

I hate it when she does that. Suddenly, she said in a loud voice, well it seemed loud to me since I was sitting next to her, "I will give you a damn dollar if you promise to just shut up about it!" We drove on home the rest of the way in total silence.

Keeping a low profile as I learned to do a long time ago when these situations arise, I stayed busy with resupplying the bird feeders in the back yard, putting fresh water in the bird bath and cleaning Midnight's litter box.

Stalling for time, I even swept the garage floor. When I crept back in the house, I noticed a dollar lying on the kitchen table. No way was I going to touch that dollar! Suddenly Judy appeared and pointed toward the dollar.

She then proceeded to tell me that it was my fault that I got short changed. I said, "What, how can it be my fault?"

She said that I confused the woman when I unloaded all that change on her. She said that if I had just handed the clerk the 20 dollars, everything would have worked out. She said that she saw me take forever to slowly count out all that change as everybody in line including the clerk rolled their eyes watching the time consuming process.

Did I mention that my wife is smarter than me? Well, she is. Resigned to the situation, I replied that she was probably right, and I would force myself to get over it.

Several days passed and that dollar remained on the kitchen table. About the third day, I decided the dollar looked so lonely lying there by itself that I picked it up and put it in my wallet.

Also, I have cleaned all the grime and dirt off my hammer of unknown origin. You know, it actually looks like it might be worth what I paid for it. Things are good again.


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