Monday, August 24, 2009

Improbable Objects of Deep Affection

Do you have some little something in your life that you just love to pieces? Something that someone else would take a look at and go, "whaaaat?"

Every once in awhile I'll go through the house and pick up some things to get rid of. It's a bit problematic 'cause Donald and I are both pack-rats. It's hard for either of us to part with our "stuff" cause we're both long time collectors. But as we've gotten older we've become a little more discerning about what we pick up. At one time, we were on a constant hunt for Barley canisters.

You know - those old china canister sets that had coffee, tea, sugar, flour, rice and sometimes barley?

Who needs a canister these days for barley?! Well, if your last name is Barley, then it's important to your life to have one (or a whole bunch of 'em), right?!

Donald's mother started us on this, and it became a fun reason to go antique-ing. The hunt for something specific and elusive is just the most fun thing. Finding a treasure is rewarding, but the hunt is what it's all about. We now have quite a few Barley canisters, so the allure is not quite what it once was. Although - I must say, the thrill of the hunt is not totally lost. Not completely. We still look, but now if we see a "Barley Jar" included in a whole set of canisters, we no longer try to talk the dealer into letting us break up the set. If we ask and the answer is no, we can now walk away without the pleading and begging we once reduced ourselves to.

Donald is a locksmith, and has a pretty amazing collection of antique padlocks. It's gotten harder to find one that appeals to him now since his collection is so extensive. But we still look.

I'm a sucker for white ironstone pitchers. But, because I now have a nice collection, I've become pretty picky about what I'll pick up. Not just any ol' pitcher will do. Add in the fact that we now live in a very small house, and the fact of "space" comes into play. There's just not a lot of room for "stuff." But. We still look.

and . . . sometimes the perfect antique padlock (original key included!), or the perfect white ironstone pitcher presents itself and insists on coming home with us.

Hence, occasionally, there are some things that have to go in order to make room for new "treasures" coming in. But, of course, there are the things we'll never bring ourselves to part with. Oddly enough, one of the most loved objects in the house is one which doesn't go with a thing. Isn't an old family heirloom. Didn't cost but a few dollars. And causes a lot of people to look the other way rather than say "Oh. that's . . . . interesting."

Here's the story.

When I was growing up we would take family car trips. Did y'all do that? And while the drives seemed forever, they were well thought out with things to keep everyone entertained, and they were fun. Games included seeing how many different states were represented by the license plates of other cars on the highway. Back then highways weren't the wild and crazy and scary super expressways we have now with people flying by at a beezillion miles an hour intent on reaching the end of the journey, with the journey itself not being a part of the fun.

We did fun things during the journey.

We played games.

We sang. I was not a child who sang well, just as I'm not an adult who sings well. But - oh well, it's still fun. One of the songs my mother and I sang was "Playmate, Come Out and Play With Me." Remember it? I loved that song! Still do.

(Words and music by Saxie Dowell)
Copyright 1940 by Santly-Joy-Select Inc.

There's a catchy little tune a floatin' through the air,
You hear it here and there,
They sing it ev'ry where
How it started, where it started
seems nobody knows.
But what's the diff'rence where it came from,
here's the way it goes

Oh PLAYMATE, come out and play with me
And bring your dollies three.
Climb up my apple tree,
Look down my rain barrel
Slide down my cellar door
And we'll be jolly friends forever more.

It was a rainy day, She couldn't come out to play,
With tearful eyes and tender sighs
I could hear her say:

I'm sorry Playmate, I cannot play with you
My dollies have the flu,
Boo-hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo.
Ain't got no rain barrel,
Ain't got no cellar door
But we'll be jolly friends forever more.

Then I grew up and moved away from home and the family car trips were a thing of the past.

Mother and Dad were taking vacations without me. But, memories are amazing things, and the memory of us singing "The Playmate Song" had stayed with us all.

On one of their trips my dad came across a music box. Not just any ol' music box. This one played "The Playmate Song." When he showed it to my mother, they both just hooted and laughed because it was without a doubt the most singularly ridiculous looking music box in the history of music boxes. And it made no sense at all. Why THIS particular music box played "The Playmate Song" made not a whit of sense. But. There it was. It brought back fun memories, and it made my mom and dad laugh. So they bought it for me.

I don't remember the occasion on which it was given - either a birthday, or Christmas. But I do remember opening the package and looking at this thing and thinking "whaaaaaat . . . " Then my dad said, "turn it on." Turn it on? Whaaaaat . . . .? Took me a minute to figure out what he meant, but I did and when I turned the little thingie and heard that song I was filled with emotion. And cried. Of course. I am a tad sentimental and shed tears easily.

That was probably 35 years ago.

I still have this funny little music box, and it still works, and it still makes me smile. It's not going anywhere.


Vicki Lane said...

Oh, lord, I remember that song! And I know what you mean about keeping around weird things because of the memories. I have far too many such weird things. We decided years ago that what we needed was a Mathom House, such as Tolkien's hobbits built for the storage of useless things.

Then we realized we were already living in it.

Jen Forbus said...

I know The Playmate song, too. We use to do a hand-clapping routine thing to it when we were in elementary school. AND I played the license plate game with my sisters and mom...when we made the drive to Arkansas (from Ohio). We tried to find all 50 states by the end of the trip. I don't think we made it, but I remember how excited we were when we saw Hawaii!

I collect far too much stuff. I've been trying to downsize and not be quite so sentimental...while I love the sentiment, I hate to dust more. I do keep a lot of pictures, though. I won't give up my pictures.

And I do love that music box! It makes me think of Elliot from Pete's Dragon! :)

Auntie Knickers said...

I remember that song too -- I think perhaps my mother or father or both sang it to us. And I hear you about becoming pickier about collections -- I'm very picky after moving halfway across country. And that is the oddest looking music box I've ever seen, and yet, it has a certain familiarity....

Unknown said...

My mother used to sing the Playmate song to me when I was little. She sang to me quite a bit, even though she didn't thinkshe sang well. (she had a lovely light voice). I'm the youngest of 5, so by the time I had my first child, Mom was 67. Either she or I found a wonderful gray stuffed squirrel to give my first born. And darned if it wasn't a music box playing that tune. It became one of our daughter's favorites. And then she went on to play the hand game, just as Jen referred to. As to collections and being a pack rat? I just won't go there. Something about self-incrimination.

Earl Staggs said...

I remember the song, too. You simply can't sing it without smiling. And how neat that you can find things with your last name on them. Closest I can find is a brand of canned beans named "Stagg." That's close. Maybe I'll stock up on some and display them around the house. Naaahhh. Carol probably wouldn't let me.