My mother always had a love for other people’s possessions.
She acted as if our things were not as good. She didn’t do this because
we were poor; she did it because she dearly loved a bargain. She
haunted second hand stores, yard sales, auctions and antique shops
looking for that elusive item that should really belong to her. She
would turn the things over in her soft pale hands and look for any
damages. Anything with a nick or scratched paint, ripped seam she would
either put back or haggle with the owner until she got what she
considered a bargain. She always had in mind what she was willing to
pay but she had to be sure she got full value for her purchases.
She would show me a piece and say,” Picture who wore this, feel the
Dutifully I would run it through my fingers. And sure enough I could
imagine someone elegant wearing the item.
In that way she taught me how to recognize quality in whatever I bought.
She not only lusted after clothes and shoes but hats with feathers to
sunbonnets. Kitchenware, household items that was not expensive even
when bought new by the first owner. It was better if someone else had
it. Not necessarily a famous person or someone she knew but as
long as it was preowned it was better than what we had.
Our house was a treasure trove filled with useless items that we had no
use for or room to store.
So that was why I started first grade wearing highly polished black
paten leather shoes that once belonged to Julie Halpern and a red and
black plaid dress of unknown origin. Wearing the tartan plaid made me
feel as if I were a Scottish princess.
I went to the prom in a froth of lavender lace that last year, or the
year before, was worn by the head cheerleader, complete with thin
strapped silver high heel sandals. Now I was a pixie in a fairy tale
The original owners never realized what they were missing.
I was in high school before that I realized that you could
actually go into a department store and buy something new. But it
worked out in the end because what used to be used is now “Retro” and
everybody wants it.