I’d always wanted to explore the vintage shops along Highway 412 in Alpena, Arkansas, yet I’d never stopped because I was on my way somewhere else. A few days ago, I made Alpena my destination. No, of course, I don’t need any stuff. This is about what I didn’t buy yet carried home anyhow.
Setting out to explore without buying is a different sort of adventure. I go with the intention of remembering.
Inspiration lives in the most unexpected places. There’s a treasure trove inside musty shops filled to the rafters with my very own childhood artifacts. Old toys and books and dishes like Momma served fried potatoes on lay claim to me as I do them.
In a way, these outings serve as writing research.☺ Flea markets and vintage boutiques are bona fide Gracie Lee museums.
Yes, I love my job.
I have a soft spot in general for dolls and want to adopt them much like forsaken pets at the animal shelter. Raggedy Ann has such bright, hopeful eyes. Please pick me, she says. I gave her a hug, straightened her dress, and told her to be patient. A deserving little girl would soon come along and take her home.
Growing up, we had an old black Royal typewriter (I think it was), heavy as a bank safe with keys that struck the paper with force. Momma typed farm checks on it every Friday night. Daddy, a natural overachiever, typed lightning fast on it. When he first learned to type in high school, his teacher thought he was cheating. That’s how fast he was.
I learned to type on an electric typewriter. Remember how the bell dinged to alert the typist of the right hand paper margin? Lots of angels got their wings during high school typing class.
Love these green keys!
Santa brought Tonka Trucks for Christmas one year. My sister and I spent many hours in the sandbox, cottonfield, and backyard playing with them, hauling dirt and gravel, Barbies, Lincoln Logs, whatever needed transporting. They were practical vehicles. Sturdy, too.
Ours still live at home on the farm.
So.Many.Books. Little Goldens. Dr. Suess. Childcraft. Shelves and shelves of dusty old novels. Seeing all these stories I’ll never know makes me a little sad. There’s never enough time to read all the books, but it sure is fun to try. I remind myself that I can visit the library or Dickson Street Bookshop most anytime. So I didn’t buy a single book either.
Yes, I enjoyed a successful day of poking around in Alpena, successful in the memories stirred, what I saw, and what I didn’t buy.
Oh yeah, I did take one thing home—a delicious watermelon bought from a fruit stand on the roadside. I’ve already eaten the entire thing.
Are you a treasure hunter and gatherer? Where’s your favorite place to explore?
Grace Grits & Gardening
Farm. Food. Garden. Life.
The Beatles, In My Life