Monday, March 25, 2013

Junk Love Monday: Allow Me to Tip My Hat

The last two weeks have been hat-filled for the Blackbird girls. We both love hats, and have collected them on a small scale for years. We have some top hats, as well as several vintage fedoras (we like to hang them on the ends of our curtain rods, alongside our necktie collection that doubles as window valances), and a couple of womens' hats. We always look for them when we're on the hunt for junk, and have actually sold quite a few in the shop. But hats, at least in our area, have been a little scarce lately--until a few weeks ago.

Working at the antique mall has allowed us both to meet and bond with a lot of great people. We might not go to slumber parties and cocktail hours with them, but we still consider them friends. Some of these people are a little closer to family. So, I ran into one of these people three weeks ago, a man who is usually poking fun with a twinkle in his eye. Not on this day. His wife died several months ago, and the family had been pressuring him to clean out the house. A practical man, he finally decided that it was the right thing to do, so he loaded up her clothes and neatly stacked her shoes, still in the original boxes, in the back of the truck and headed to a thrift store to donate everything. And then he had to stand and watch the employees rip the boxes and throw them in the trash, and then toss the shoes into a barrel in the corner. They never had a lot of money, but his wife was serious about her accessories, and some of the shoes looked like they had never been worn. He always took pride in making sure that she could have a few nice things, and she tried her best to take care of everything. Her death was not unexpected, and he thought the grieving was finished--until he saw her shoes being thrown into what looked like a giant trash can.

Then, he came clean with a secret. He still had her hats (in the boxes, of course). If the family found out, they would accuse him of hanging on, but he didn't want the hats to be mistreated the way the shoes had been. He wanted somebody to care about them. Enter the Blackbird girls.

Yes, we are in the business of resale. But we also respect the love that people have for their stuff, because it is often an extension of the love they have for another person or time period. We offered to buy the hats, sight unseen, because we knew that we would love them they way he needed us to. They have been in a farmhouse closet for decades, so some of them have yellow spots or a little bit of moth damage. One of them has feathers that shed faster than Charlie Brown's Christmas tree. A couple of them are fabulous. And we do love them--all 14 of them.

Several days later, I was walking through the antique mall and spotted a tweed fedora hanging from a hall tree. Curious, I checked the tag. It was surprisingly cheap. Hat in hand, I turned a corner and spotted 4 more fedoras on another hall tree. That's five fedoras, which is more than we have found in the last 3 years. Of course, they had to be mine.

Two days after that, the other Blackbird did a thrift store run and came back with 4 more fedoras. The next afternoon, I found a fabulous green and black plaid one. And then two days later, someone offered me yet another fedora, for the delightful price of $5. Are we counting? That's 25 hats in 14 days! We have put some in the shop. Others are still of "to be determined" status. I find myself wearing a hat for important tasks, like watching cartoons or folding laundry, because it's easier to put it on my head than find a permanent home for it. Now we just need the same run of luck on costume jewelry, and every day can be a fashion show....

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