My very first job was at a flea market, working with an antique dealer. As I started my first day, she encouraged me to roam around and get a feel for what the other dealers had for sale. The building was in an old cattle barn in Texas, and I wandered between the stalls, checking out a lot of great old stuff… and a lot of junk.
One booth stopped me dead in my tracks. A dealer had a poorly framed watercolor painting. It was a beautiful blue sky, peppered with fluffy clouds. Two biplanes cut through the idyll. Superimposed was an aviatrix, scarf fluttering, enjoying a cup of tea. There was a big gap for copy discussing her adventures, presumably with airplanes and hot beverages.
It was priced at $60 — a steal for old original art, but an impossible amount for a kid whose first payday was a ways off.
I moped about it all day until my boss finally got me to tell her what was bothering me. She smacked me on the arm and chastised me soundly. “I’m in this business because of treasures like that. Here’s $60; go and get it!”
I ran across the flea market complex, and got to the dealer’s booth just in time to watch someone else walk away with my painting under their arm.
That day I learned that when you find a cool old treasure, you can’t let it pass you by, because it’ll haunt you for the rest of your days. My dying thought will be of that darn watercolor. Of course, it’s harder to live by that belief when you work at a company that deals with tons of cool old stuff. You have to temper “wanting to take everything home” with “wanting to be able to pay rent.” The rule I usually use is, “Would it break my heart to ring up someone else for this item?”
The answer was yes when it came to this statue.
She sat in our salvage department for a couple of months before I realized that she would also haunt my dreams. Sure, her face is kinda rough; sure, her paint job is questionable. But I love her cloven hoof chair, and her mysterious machine!
She guards my antique tool collection. I named her Ada.