My three year old grandson and I were zigzagging through an antique store in North Georgia. I was hoping to run across a Seth Thomas No. 2 Regulator for half price…..or maybe an 1886 Ithaca Calendar Clock whose owner might not realize its true worth.
What caught my eye was a musty, faded out page of multi baby pictures. I’m guessing four months old. Probably done at an Olan Mills Studio. There were nine exact same photos on the sheet. I guess someone forgot to cut them out and send one to great Gran, one to Uncle Harvey, Cousin Janet, the neighbor across the street……
It wasn’t an ugly picture. The subject didn’t seem coerced or unhappy to be immortalized in such a manner. There was even a hint of a smile and a touch of mischief around the eyes. The child was wearing the obligatory white nightshirt looking thing. I would guess the infant in the picture to be about my age by now. The asking price was twenty-nine dollars!
I looked around for the snake oil liniment and the treasure map to the lost San Sabo gold mine! If a shopper plopped down three tens for a picture of SOMEBODY ELSE’S baby, there’s no limit to what you might could sell them! P. T. Barnum came to mind. As did E.W. Grove and his famous Tasteless Chill Tonic. I thought of a great American, Lewis Grizzard, and his many articles thanking the northerners for supporting our alligator “farms”.
I’ve heard the ole “one man’s junk….” axiom a million times, but you can take anything to the extreme.
As I grabbed Max’s arm to keep him from running through the Victorian glassware a plan began to formulate. Good gracious alive, we’ve got reams of baby photos back home falling out of near ’bout every closet in the house. We’ve got thousands of shots of Max’s dad…..and none of them half as faded out as this twenty-nine dollar one.
You know, in some of Jess’s earlier pictures he looked a lot like a baby Elvis. This thing could get really good. Back during the heyday of the Carroll County Fair you could buy a post card of a two headed calf for a dime. I bet folks today would pay ten times that for a genuine, unaltered, eight by ten, color photo of Elvis before he started to kindergarten! We could clean out the closets and get rich at the same time!
I was thrashing out the details in my mind when Max came by with a box of wooden eggs in his arms. Wooden eggs! Are you kidding me? His little eyes were asking the same question jumping out at me…..what in the world do you do with wooden eggs! I picked three off the top and began to juggle them. I thought I’d impress my grandson along with our fellow shoppers. Max was so impressed he grabbed an egg and threw one at the Victorian glassware; another at a Texaco Gas and Oil sign; one at the stranger on aisle five……
We hurried over to the box of 331/3 record albums. I could have bought a Perry Como vinyl for two dollars. They had a lot of Conway Twitty stuff; and several Peter, Paul and Mary albums. We’re going through these stacks like we had good sense until it dawned on me…..I don’t have a record player! Do they even make such a machine anymore? Kinda explains why Perry Como was so cheap.
I passed by the posthole diggers and the drawing knives very quickly. I’ve been there and done that! I didn’t even bother Max with the gory details. I stared at the velvet picture of John Wayne and tried to picture it hanging in our living room. I was tempted to buy the Lone Ranger lunch box…..but I’m not going to school anytime in the foreseeable future.
We found the clock section, but no Seth Thomas Regulator. They did have an old Gilbert Clock they advertised as “completely original” and “keeping good time”. It had a spade minute hand and a straight line hour hand. One or the other could not have been “original”, plus the glass had been repainted and it had an Ansonia Clock Company pendulum. The price was so high I didn’t care what kind of time it kept!
We passed the multi pictured baby sheet on the way out. I noticed underneath the twenty-nine dollar sign someone had hand written “or best offer”.
I immediately sought out the caretaker. “Ma’am, I’ll make you a best offer. You give ME twenty-nine dollars and I’ll tote that old picture out to the car and haul it off for you!” That baby won’t feel like nobody wants it.
And when Max comes back as a young man, he need not waste time staring at it. He can spend his money on obsolete incandescent light bulbs, U. S. postage stamps, DVDs, Harry Potter wands and Lego blocks.
Kes & Max