Just can’t get enough of those grain sacks !
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Just can’t get enough of those grain sacks !
Ok, so we’re driving along and we see this thing (below) on the side of the road. Knowing
it will make an incredible table base, we pull over and we buy it. The guy says “I’ll get my
fork lift and put it on your trailer.”
So, what is it about machinery that attracts guys like a magnet and causes them to stand
around watching as if Something Really Amazing were going to happen ?
Not that I’m complaining. It would have been way less than amazing to load it ourselves.
It’s the same thing with cars.
I guess there’s just something about the power of an engine and its ability to make things
happen that draws those fellas in and keeps them looking instead of, like me, saying
“uh huh” as I walk on by.
No. Reality ! These great-looking hard rubber balls were used in a paper mill. They
rolled around inside a drum mashing the necessary ingredients into pulp.
The wonky, less round looking one (above) was attached by the remnant of heavy
fabric to the inside of the drum to keep things stirring. The perfectly round ones in
the cart (below) were loose and did the real mixing work.
Lucky me to know pickers with eyes so good that they see the beauty in old stuff
that others would send to the dump.
I’d much rather see these hunky English mill baskets than a row of rockers wrapped
’round a pretty farm porch.
Although it IS nice to rock the hours away on a lazy summer day, so maybe baskets on
a porch would only be a temporary delight.
Lawn ornaments ? Probably not meant for that, either ! But, whatever their final
destination, they are a feast for my eyes.
Look who’s waiting to fly ! There are four of these tiny wonders in the nest on top of the
column by our front door.
It is the third batch of babies in the pretty moss-filled nest this spring. There are nests
on the other columns on our porch, too. We have to be ready to duck because the parents
swoop out of the nests when we come onto the porch. When we open the front door, we
have to go easy or we’ll be spending our time shooing birds back outside and cleaning up
droppings. Sometimes, a nest is built in the wreath on our front door and, if we don’t catch
it in time, we can’t use that door till the babies have flown. Look at Bird #2 sitting on top of
Bird #4 (below). This nest is way too crowded ! Just think how nice it will feel to fly after
this claustrophobic situation.
One year, we had baby foxes in our back barn which meant we couldn’t go in with
customers for the few months it took for them to grow up and go off. Watching the fox cubs
play in the yard, tumbling over each other, climbing onto industrial carts and tipping back
off again is something we’ll never forget. These are bonuses, pleasures we never expected
when we moved to the country.
Over the weekend, we happened upon a small antique car show which we couldn’t just
pass by. We used to have some of our own, a ’60 Studebaker, like the one below, and a
’50 Hudson, so it is always fun to stop and admire someone else’s dreamy wheels while
we point to the ones we’d like to drive someday when, once again, we have free time.
One of the cars was a beautiful Buick with a rumble seat, very much like one owned
by a beau of my mother’s in the 30s. It was a gift from his father but, not being the
convertible he wanted, he took it to a garage and had the top cut right off. Inclement
weather? No problem! A bunch of umbrellas, conveniently stored under the seat, did
the trick back in those days of raccoon coats, bathtub gin and boola boola.
One day the Buick boy came to see my mother and said “We have to get married!”
It turned out that his family, long-time residents of an old stone house in Englewood
Cliffs, New Jersey, were actually Canadian citizens and, in those days just before
our entrance into World War Two, were about to be deported. My mother, always
accommodating and caring about others, ran upstairs and packed a bag and off they
went to find a justice of the peace. Somewhere along the way, my mother realized
that it would never work and called the whole thing off. So, they went to the movies
to see “Bringing Up Baby” instead. I don’t know what happened to that boy and his
family, but I always loved this story of choosing movies over marriage.
Shortly after this, my mother met a real man! With a real convertible (top and all).
And, a real citizen, too! There he is, my father, the one on the left with the pipe,
high hair and his pals by his side. Below, with his dog… who could
resist such a cool guy?
He showed up at a party at my grandparent’s house in 1941. It was love at first sight.
They eloped (what else?…it’s a family tradition) before he went to France with the
Cars have always played such a huge part in all of our lives; I guess they always will.
Here I am (below), sitting on the back of another convertible in 1950, next to my
Snooks is at the wheel, looking like a Bazaar magazine cover girl in her chic scarf,
sunglasses and, of course, the ever-present cig. She sucked in her cheeks to get
the high cheekbones that everyone wanted. Below, my mother (center), and her
beautiful sisters, Liz (again with the cig) on the left and Florence on the right, reading
Bazaar. Check out the cover. See what I mean about Snooks?
Then and now. Our love affairs with fashion, the automobile and love itself are ones
that never let us down.
Then …………………………………………………..and now!
A few weeks ago, a friend, one who started out as a customer, came to my
house to get some grain sacks. She drove a distance, at least 8 hours one
way, to get here. Before she came, she emailed that she was so excited about
seeing me. My exact feelings went right back to her. I like her so much and,
when we finally saw each other, we smiled and hugged, talked, laughed and
went crazy looking at grain sacks. It was a perfect few hours before she had
to be on her way, each of us making promises to see each other again soon,
expressing wishes that we lived closer to each other.
The really unusual thing, for me, is that we had never met in person till that
day! Our entire relationship was made of air…. words in the air via the
computer and boxes of grain sacks sent through the air from me to her.
Without computers, the internet and google we probably would never have
met. And what a loss that would have been.
Some of my favorite grain sacks state “God Bless Our Crops and Animals”….
A few ask for the blessing of the owner’s handiwork….
I hope that someday, among the piles of my treasured textiles, I will be able to
say that I have a grain sack that expresses my wish : “God Bless My Friends”
I always think of myself as a seller of industrial furnishings, with a little bit of
mercantile, a little bit of painted country, a little bit of European and a lot of funk, just
to keep it interesting.
And, while I’ve been buying and selling grain sacks for 13 years, in the last year it
seems like they have really taken over. They’re everywhere!
They are certainly all over my house. And, I have a large grain sack room where I store
the hundreds of sacks in my stock.
Of course, my spaces in Bournebrook and Hudson Supermarket are brimming with
sacks, as well.
One of my favorite times is when I happen to be in one of my spaces when someone from
Germany comes in and spots the sacks. They are always so pleased to see these items
from home and to think of the names of German towns on furnishings across America.
I fell in love the day I saw my first German grain sacks in a pile of junk in a guy’s attic. I
knew that something good had happened, in fact I felt like I had hit the jackpot! But,
even then, I had no idea that they would fill my space and life in this way.
It started with my friend, Jennifer (www.jenniferlanne.com), procurer of much that
is good. She purchased a banner that practically shouted, because of its 15′ length,
“Elm Tree Farm”. She had the “Farm” part made into a huge pillow for herself and gave
me, pal that she is, the rest of the banner. I picked up her finished pillow from our mutual
friend, Jerry, the upholsterer since I would be seeing her before he would.
While I still had it, Diane, a friend and customer of both Jennifer’s and mine,
from Washington DC, was at my house and took a photo of a bunch of us holding Jennifer’s
pillow. A few days later, Diane showed the photo to yet another friend, a picker (also
named Diane, so we’ll call her Diane #2), who is from Pa. and from whom both Diane (#1)
and I buy. Diane #2 was, with good reason, crazy about the pillow and called me right
away. To make an already-too-confusing story short, I had Jerry make “Tree” into a pillow
for Diane #2 using a plain grain sack for the back. Above is what it looked like on my sofa.
–Lucky me : I have “Elm” tucked away, so there might still be a pillow in my future.
–Too many people? From too many states? Too many Dianes? Too many pillows? Never!