By Melissa Martin, Ph.D
Antiques represent a piece of America’s past; history in the form of beloved items and objects. Remembered things that encase our memories.
Sturdy items built with pride and craftsmanship. Some for luxury, but many for necessity. Purposeful furniture evolving to fit the needs of humankind. Plentiful walnut, maple, birch, oak, cedar, pine, and cherry. Metals, granite, glass, cloth, and paper; elements fashioned by human hands.
Melted metals of pewter, copper, brass, gold, and silver poured into mammoth molds. Cast iron caldrons and skillets created for procreating parents of large families; tin cups and plates for sizeable broods; platters, pottery, and crocks. Silver forks and spoons for special occasions. Colorful glassware and crystal for holidays.
Diamonds, rubies, and emeralds sparkled on broaches and necklaces. Leather, lace, buttons, and bows adorned privileged women. Pocket watches speak of the time before wristwatches.
Railroad lanterns and artifacts; collectibles from the Wild West era tell tales of pioneers and progress. Immigrants brought prized possessions on boats to use in the fallow territory.
History is remembered in the wares made from earth’s bounty as Mother Nature gave up her natural resources. Today, museums house products of yore and modern society marvels at forged creativity.
Auctions, E-bay, and antique stores buy, sell, and trade remnants and chunks of the good ‘ole days. Antique hunters stalk yard sales, estate sales, and Flea markets.
Hark! There are other reasons for fondness of antiques. Humans are sentimental creatures and cherish the memories that accompany possessions. We attach meaning to the tables and chairs used by our ancestors. Old butter churns provide a glimpse into simpler times. We feel a bonding with our great-great-grandparents as we polish the rolled-top desk and the pie cabinet. Nostalgia intoxicates our senses. Memorabilia whispers our name. It’s as if we can hear our kinfolk breathing through the old teakettle as the water boils and the steam whistles.
We picture great-great-grandma sewing quilt squares together with stitches of love and care. We feel the pulsing of the crochet needle as it knits shawls and hats. We imagine great-great-grandpa shoeing horses and picking cotton. Grandmother’s homemade quilt, grandfather’s fashioned pipe; remembrances sealed in fondness.
Yellowed and worn family Bible passed to the oldest son tells a story of immigration into the land of liberty. Beloved China dinnerware bequeathed to the oldest daughter tells a story of family celebrations in the homeland across the ocean.
Great-grandmother’s wedding rings rest in an oak jewelry box; the shimmer rubbed off by a century of housework. Items embedded with circled sentiments mirror our ancestral heritage and reflect forthcoming generations.
The thread of genealogy spirals through our patchwork quilt of life. Antiques hold memories of pain and pleasure; joy and sorrow; happy times and sad times; and the simplicity and complexity of humanity.
We remember our loved ones when we display junk and jewelry; trinkets and trunks; wagon wheels and watering cans. Special occasions remembered with souvenirs. Generations past inhabit our antiques with ghost-like qualities, bidding us to set awhile in the old rocking chair or smell the scent from the old coffee grinder. Olden times stand still in our inkwells. Memories breathe through our antiques and we inhale the essence of our relatives.
History remembers by way of antiques; books, pictures, and letters as well. Our stories and poems breathe out the past. Our life in words etched into paper memories in family albums. Genealogies depict generations of the deceased and of the living.
Times passed down via cloth and paper soaked in memories of yesteryear. Cracks and crevices full of emotions; dried tears of human suffering, preserved laughter of hope; and aged moments of affection.
History is kept alive in our memories. And in our antiques.
Melissa Martin, Ph.D, is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She resides in southern Ohio. www.melissamartinchildrensauthor.com.