My Adventures In Photography, Movies, Thrift and Life

Monday, April 13, 2009


When I was a child, and the tune by Barbra Streisand was new, my favorite song was “Secondhand Rose.” Every time it came on the radio, I had to turn it up and sing loudly,

“I’m wearing second hand hats,
Second hand clothes,
That's why they call me
Second hand Rose.”

I was obviously easily influenced, and the song was very telling in my future development. It probably embarrassed my Mother, because she was the type to scrimp and save and cut corners in order to buy quality things. But there I was; running around the A&P singing that I was called Second-Hand Rose, ha ha.

My Aunt Anna however, was the type to stop in regularly at the Salvation Army, or Stella Maris store to buy things secondhand. “I got it over at The Sallys,” she would say.

I have since found out that other families also referred to shopping with Cousin Sally, or Aunt Sally, all code names for thrift stores. My Aunt Anna was into altering and remixing long before they had names. She would tote home a lovely dark wood bookcase and slap a coat of bright yellow paint on it. Or use transfer designs on the white wood kitchen chairs, even removing pretty lace edges from sheets or tablecloths and replacing them with a different hem.

The story of my first thrift store find is now legendary in family history. Evidently I was at the Stella Maris store with my Grandma, who had stopped there to visit a friend who worked there. I saw this doll and for some reason, fell in love with it and HAD-TO-HAD TO HAVE IT. My Grandmother said NO, but after seeing my considerable distress, her friend said, “let the kid have it,” and I happily went home with my new friend. Once we arrived home, Dolly had to stay in the doll bed on the back porch and was not allowed inside the house. I can only imagine the look on my Mother’s face when she got home from work and was greeted by what used to be a doll, with patches of blond hair (the rest of it having been torn out), ink splotches all over its face, one eye, and best of all- it’s crotch had been poked out with some sharp implement and was now just a gaping hole. I guess I saw her for what she could be, not what she was.

I played with her happily through the next day. Then through the next night, God, or the Angels, or someone with truly miraculous powers, crept onto the back porch and FIXED all her deformities and abnormalities! POOF! She was now sporting a full head of golden curls, had BOTH her eyes, a pretty blue taffeta dress, the ink tattoos were gone, and …to put it delicately…she was wearing pretty white lace panties over now-uncompromised nether-regions! IT WAS A MIRACLE, and I took it completely as such. It didn’t even occur to me for YEARS that the Angel was my Mom, who had probably stopped at The May Company on the way home from work and picked out a brand new pretty doll for me. I had been given a CHANGELING, and never even suspected!

But that was just the start. “Sharon, what are you going to do with that?” became a very familiar question my family and friends asked me through the years, and indeed; to this very day. The only one who has never said that is my dear husband, who is just as much of a pack rat as I am, and encourages my nuttiness. All he cares about is if it makes me happy, then I should have it. You see, he is a perfect husband.

To this day, I remember my first flea market alone and with my own money in my pocket! I had wandered over to the local YMCA while my parents were grocery shopping, and the Y had a flea market going on the front lawn. It was around 1970, and this adolescent girl gave very careful thought to her purchases, which ALL seemed like incredible treasures to me. I always loved OLD THINGS. I liked thinking that things had a history, and a whole other life that had seen days long gone by. I have always loved days gone by.

Every table was full of riches. Books, magazines, perfume bottles, clothes, trunks, buttons, jewelry, the list goes on. It was like pirate treasure that I was allowed to choose carefully from. I still have my cherished purchases from that day, although some are packed away. They were:

1) A beautiful statue of a lady from the 1930s. She wore a black Jean Harlow evening gown, and her brown painted hair was in finger waves. Despite a broken neck that had been glued, she was stunning to me. I still look at her lovingly.

2) A little silver tray that said NEW YORK CITY on it, and had salt and pepper shakers in the shape of the Empire State Building and The Statue of Liberty.

3) Two 45 rpm records; “River, Stay Away From My Door,” by Frank Sinatra when he was still a band singer, and “Broken Hearted Melody,” by Sarah Vaughan.

4) A magazine with John Kennedy on the cover.

I tend to remember a lot of things, and where I bought them, even if they are no longer in my possession. “Oh, that was at the place where they had the broken wheelchair for sale!”, or, “ I remember that necklace because it was at the house that had all the cats in the window.” Etc.

Now, through the mystic wonder of the Internet, I have found a whole gaggle of people who are like-minded, love trashy treasures, and like talking and blogging about their finds. I sigh in envious disbelief when I read of an e-buddy coming home from Goodwill with a 1970s Gunne Sax dress for only $5.

My treasures don’t really have to be OLD, although that is preferable. I still consider it a treasure if it is a GREAT DEAL. (magic words that, my husband is convinced, turn me on) I wanted one of those chocolate making machines, but they were costly. Then I happened across one, NEVER USED, at a garage sale, and got it for $5! FIVE DOLLARS! Ohmygod, I was practically hyperventilating. A lovely soup mug with a kitty on it for $1. A 1970s silver “spoon” ring for 50 cents, a box of various angels for $3 that I made into a Christmas wreath for a friend. A 1950s cocktail table in great condition for $5 …the lists goes on. However, the space in our apartment does not. But that is another story.

It is April now, and similar to how many people delight in the Christmas season, I thrill with delight in GARAGE SALE AND FLEA MARKET SEASON! From now until September, every garage sale sign posted on a street corner or in someone’s yard tells me that place holds the potential to be a WONDERLAND! I’ll be out meandering up driveways, tote bag and sometimes husband and mother in tow, looking for great deals and magic treasure. If you see me coming, know now that I do not want to see any plastic toys or kid’s clothes, … but if you have a 1959 clock made of dominoes, pink tumbler glasses with those atomic designs on them, or a 16 Magazine with David Cassidy smiling out at me on the cover, it will be MINE, ALL MINE, and No; I do not have have any answer for what I am going to do with it.

Copyright 2009 by Sharon Horodyski