Editorial – April/May/June 2018

Isn’t it wonderful to see the sun up so much earlier and set so much later?  So what if it shows up that “protective coating” of dust on everything and the accumulation of winter grime on all the windows… it’ll soon be time to conquer the enemy with a thorough spring cleaning.  I’m anxious to get started, both inside and out, and I’m in the  mood to get rid of clutter.  It’s a bit of a mystery to me that some things that you have enjoyed for years suddenly become stale and you get that urge to refresh and renew.  I know I’m not the only one who will be looking for some new-to-me old things which means it’s  the perfect time to get out and visit  the shops and markets – and maybe an auction or two –  that fill the pages of this issue.  Sometimes I don’t quite know what it is that I’m looking for, but when you least expect it – there it is!

My husband and I embarked on the annual journey to Florida again in January.  We can’t go far from our place when we’re there. Our dog, Chevy, although very well-behaved, is a large critter and it’s difficult to take him with us on longer sojourns. For us that meant no Webster, no Renninger’s Extravaganzas, and no antique shows that were more than a couple hours of driving away – which was most of them. As a result, we stayed within a certain area and frequented the many locations that are fairly close by.  This includes antique malls, a few small  flea markets, some multi-vendor shops and one really nice individually owned shop that is, indeed, an antique shop. (I am happy to share  the names of these   businesses if you want to know them.)

We were impressed with the antique malls we got to, most of them were nicely stocked with lots of vintage wares (although not too many “antiques”) at reasonable prices, even for the thrifty Canadian trying to justify the additional 30-odd percent tacked on to every purchase due to the exchange rate. We found some nice things to bring home.

Flea markets are a bit different in the south, or maybe it would be more accurate to say that some remain true to their humble beginnings. It can be a game of hit-and-miss at the smaller ones to find some really great things, but that can make it a lot of fun.  We have met some real characters at these venues – but, come to think of it, we have met some real characters at just about all venues where folks are looking to find something special!  I recall the first flea market I went to in Fort Lauderdale in the sixties as a young kid … I bought some crystals from a dismantled chandelier and was totally enthralled that such a place existed where you could find anything and everything in all conditions, shapes and sizes. What a great place! That remains the norm for the smaller southern flea market – not all, of course – some of them are huge enterprises that spread across a few acres and more or less bring the world to you.  You can look through  the booths of  antique dealers that are comparable to very nice shops and then pick up your fresh produce, boiled peanuts and pulled pork on your way out.

Another thing that is entirely different from here in Ontario are the thrift shops of the south.  They are abundant. They are chock-full of stuff. They are extremely inexpensive (except for one we went to that happened to be located beside a very expensive multi-vendor antique market) and it is quite amazing what you can find.  Some of them only accept higher-end donations and are a real pleasure to search through… it is simply incredible to see what some people will generously donate.  They further entice you to come back to visit with a wooden nickel program that the entire community shares. You buy the wooden nickel at one thrift shop   where they deduct the $5 cost from your purchase. You can then use the nickel at any of the thrift shops in the area when they have their Wooden Nickel sales.  These sales can be for the whole store… from 15% – 75% off absolutely anything, or just on certain things like furniture, clothing, decorative items or glass and china. I was really surprised at the quality some of the “upscale”  shops offered.  If you have a place to furnish in Florida, it could be accomplished very inexpensively by visiting many of these places.

Last but not least, Florida is the land of yard sales. Without a “winter” to speak of and a transient population, yard sales pop up between Wednesday and Sunday every week. (And, yes, even on a Monday or Tuesday sometimes.)  I suspect the older population is one of the reasons that you can often find something that really is an antique… whether it’s in good shape or not is usually the problem. What I find distressing is how many things I see that look like they were recently damaged – probably on the journey from inside the house to the table outside, transported by someone who didn’t know and/or didn’t care about what it was they were moving. I’ve had   to pass on many excellent items that have the tiniest chip or flaw – recently acquired. Wandering from sale to sale, we’ve come across people who have pretty fine collections they no longer want – typically their prices are a little higher because they’re aware of the value… but they’re usually willing to negotiate so it’s win/win.  I love yard sales, but more for the everyday things we all use and need.  I find that if you are patient, most things you might be looking for will eventually show up at a yard sale – kitchen gadgets, dog toys, exercise equipment, dish sets, decorative items, cookware, glassware  – you name it – it’s all out there… and when you take it home and use it – that, my friend, is recycling.  No wonder “vintage” is so cool right now.  There’s lots of it around, no matter what category you’re thinking of, and it’s generally well-made and still in great shape… i.e. – it is not made in China.

A highlight of our trip south this year was  our visit to the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park (Orlando). Oh my goodness!  This was my second visit and I just loved every second of it. To put it in a nutshell, here is the description the museum has on its website: http://www.morsemuseum.org/

“Welcome to the Morse Museum
The Morse Museum houses the world’s most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany (1848–1933), including the artist and designer’s jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass, leaded-glass lamps and windows; his chapel interior from the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago; and art and architectural objects from his Long Island country estate, Laurelton Hall. The Museum’s holdings also include American art pottery, late 19th- and early 20th-century American painting, graphics, decorative art.”

That describes it much better than I can and all I can add is that it is well worth a visit if you love the Decorative Arts and want to feast your eyes on craftsmanship that is simply breathtaking. Winter Park is a lovely, historical  part of Orlando with an abundance of gorgeous little shops (including antique) and restaurants, a perfect place to spend a delightful afternoon.

A rather exciting event we were able to witness was the launch of Falcon Heavy from the Kennedy Space Center.  Being located about 12 miles away (as the crow flies or 17 miles by highway), we were basically in the backyard of the launch.  After several hours of delays and anticipation it finally happened a few hours after the original planned launch time. It was a bit anti-climatic for us. Having been there for other launches, we expected the ground to rumble and the windows to rattle… but it was a very smooth launch and we basically only saw the cork-screw plume  of exhaust (see pg 36). The event was a huge draw for the town of Titusville… the roads and side roads were jam-packed with excited onlookers and the Max Brewer Bridge was packed with people who would have had just about the best view from town.

Florida holds great appeal for us. Part of that is getting away from the  winter here, the beautiful beaches, hunting for things for both home and business under sunny skies… but really the best part of visiting  Florida is the time we have there to spend with our precious family and friends.  (We have precious family and friends here, too… but they are a little easier to visit if and when we make the time – which I am planning on doing!)

It’s so nice to hear from a number of people that our advertisers in the WT had a good winter… a huge thanks to everyone who got out there and visited the businesses, both large and small, shops and shows – all of them  work hard at showcasing  and making available the antiques and collectibles we seek out.  With the milder weather here it will be even easier to get to the many events and places that grace the pages of the WT.

How did our first quarterly issue go?  Well, I think it worked out very nicely  although we did hear from a large number of locations who distribute the WT in their shops that they ran out of papers as early as mid-January… that was a  bit of a surprise to us.  We had printed thousands of extra copies to last throughout the 3-month period and tried hard to get the number right, but I guess it’s another learning curve!

Enjoy the spring. While Florida might have very enjoyable winter weather, it does not have the glorious spring season we experience here.  Just the appreciation factor that winter is over is part of the joy we feel. It’s so uplifting to watch the fields turn green, the leaves slowly work themselves onto  branches, the blossoms unfold and hear the enthusiastic orchestration of bird song. It’s a great time to stand outside on a warm and sunny day, when everything is new again,  and just take in all we have to be thankful for.
Thanks for reading! Safe travels and God bless.

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