Tuesday, January 17, 2012

*Deja Vu* and the Little Red Boots

Warning! This will be a different kind of post today... 
It's January, it's snowy and gray and I am at home, feeling a bit reflective.

Just about this time every year, 
I get to where I can't stand the sight of outdoor Christmas decorations anymore....
Especially you, you tired red velvet ribbons, billowing in the cold January wind-
you must be removed, and now!  
No waiting til February under the guise of  
"Oh, I'm here for Valentines Day!" 
Nope, you all have to go.  

The only exception I make is for my little red boots.

Raise your hand if you wore a pair of these when you were little.  
Don't worry, no one can see you and know how old you are!  We all had them!  
I may have found these boots at the flea market, but I believe they were actually mine!  
They called to me and the feeling of deja vu was so strong, 
I just knew they must have been my very own pair, once upon a time.
I remember the feeling of tugging the rubber loops around the buttons 
and the way they opened up to fit over my saddle shoes.
I brought them home and now, every Christmas season, I put them out on my front porch 
along with this wonderful old, faded Flyer wooden sled given to me by my Mom 
when my son was very small. 
This little vignette works for Christmas and even though the boots are red
I leave them out til the snow melts.

Have you ever had that kind of emotional reaction to an antique or a vintage treasure?
To me, it was very real and very evocative of my childhood.
I'm sure it's one of the reasons I love to seek out vintage things and bring them home.
They have a patina, a sense of history, a soul? - that you can only wonder or marvel about.
It has happened to me two other times.
One of them was was wonderful and the other kind of creepy.
I'll tell you about the creepy time first, so I can end on a grand note!

When we were young and just starting out in Milwaukee, we were always on the lookout (now you know this was really just me, but Mr. Grand would often come along because he was a good sport) for
antiques that we could use to furnish our house with.  One Sunday afternoon, we found a dining room set in a musty, dark antique warehouse on the south side and I couldn't wait to get it home to see how it would look in our empty dining room.  We set it up and we were pleased - it needed some work and the cushions would have to be recovered, but it would do. 
Later that evening, after Mr. Grand had gone to bed, I decided to walk through the dining room once more, to congratulate myself on my amazing find.  Rather than the warm, wonderful feeling I expected, I was chilled by the overwhelming sense that something evil, something literally, truly evil had happened around this table. I have been antiquing all my life - at my mother's side since I could walk, and I have never, ever had a feeling like this before.
I couldn't shake it and I didn't know what to do.  Could it be haunted?  Do things have souls?
I didn't know and I couldn't sleep.  I wanted it out of the house!
Mr. Grand, always the more rational of the two of us, suggested we have it dipped and stripped. 
Wanting it out of the house asap, I agreed.  When it was refinished, I dreaded bringing it back home, but I agreed to give it a try.  And.... nothing.  It was completely fine. 
It's like it was somehow cleansed or baptized.  It was a mystery.  
We used that table for 10 years, we hosted lots of friends and celebrations around it 
and I never had another moment of unease. Hmmm.

The next time I had a profound deja vu experience was at the flea market, too.  About 10 years ago, I came across some unusual square china plates that were so familiar and so instantly dear to me that I had to buy them.  I wasn't sure why they seemed so familiar so I asked my Mom about them - they are marked Johnson Brothers, in the Rose Chintz pattern. She knew the pattern immediately.  
It was the pattern of my Grandmother Evie's china (on my dad's side).  
My Grandmother Evie had died many years ago in Chicago and my Grandfather had remarried.  
Any family heirlooms from that side of the family went to his second wife's family when my Grandfather died and we never saw any of it again.  Or so we thought.  I grew up on the east coast. They lived in Chicago.  I now live in Chicago.  The flea market was in the Chicago area.  
I think she was sending it to me.  I really do. 
I loved my Grandma Evie and I have wonderful memories 
of visiting them in their cozy Chicago brick bungalow.  

This is a picture of my grandparents, probably when they were "courting"...

 I can't remember too much about her really, but that she was Irish and feisty and she was very protective of me.  I can still hear her growling "I'll ring his neck!" after some boy (probably one of my five brothers!) had been teasing me beyond endurance. 
This is me, in between my two older brothers, in front of my grandparents house in Chicago.
Hard to believe those two cherubic boys could be soooo mean...
Some memory buried deeply in my mind must have recognized the china at the flea market and stirred the deja vu spirits again.  I decided to collect the china whenever I found it in the Chicago area, to honor my Grandmother Evie and because I love the pattern!

Here's a picture of the Johnson Brothers Rose Chintz square plates:

There are also wonderful little berry bowls that I've added to the collection.

And a pretty creamer, among other charming things.

Here's a close up of this sweet pattern.

 They still make it, but the new stuff is not as delicate or detailed as the vintage pieces.  I don't know how much of it Grandma Evie had, or when she will stop sending it to me, so I still pick it up if it's old and the price is right.  I think she would want me to!

Linking to Table top Tuesday

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  1. Great stories! The reason I love antiques is thinking about the people who used them in the past. Well, maybe not the creepy table stories! ~ Maureen

  2. I smile when I read about the red boots! I had one... then I passes to my daughter and it was, what I guess was a Christmas shoes §:-) at least my daughter think about it.

    Well, with your china chintz? they are to drool for. I love everything romantic.

    Have a nice day.

  3. So refreshing, Erin, to read a story like this early in the morning...a dear friend of my mother's collected this same china way back in the 30s in New Jersey. I hadn't planned to be reflective this morning, but your story cast a wonderful spell on me. Keep writing - you have a gift for it!. a.c.

  4. Wonderful stories! I had very similar boots, but don't think I ever had red ones. I do remember my fourth grade teacher's high-heeled galoshes -- they were quite something! I have always loved that chintz pattern -- so glad your grandmother's dishes called out to you!

  5. Growing up in California we didn't wear such things! But I've seen those boots on my daily dog walk and always wondered about the background.
    Regarding china, I think having a collection in MIND when looking through flea markets. It gives you a mission/ pursuit.

  6. Yes! I really do believe *things* come to you if you have the Patience. I found some lovely drapery finials :o) {hugs}
    BTW~ You will love Susan Branch's blog post today...
    She shows her sweet kitchen cupboard with her collection of "Rose Chintz" just like yours.

  7. I know exactly what you are talking about!!! It is the most wonderful feeling to "need this" and not know exactly why. I feel the same way about white beadboard and I always have. It just makes me feel at home. My husband hates it and says it "just looks old". We obviously have had it somewhere in our pasts and it has a different meaning. I do not like mid-century modern at all because I grew up with it and I just think it looks creepy.
    Great post! Thank you and good luck finding more china in your pattern.

  8. I read recently that people believe furnishings pick up the essence of their previous owners. Don't even want to imagine what you were preceiving from your table.

    Loved your story about Grandma and her china. My grandma gardened tomatoes and berries. So glad I read this post, it took me back.

  9. Great post, as ususal.
    For sure, it must have been one of your cherubic older brothers teasing you beyond endurance. As brother #3, I never knew Grandma Evie. Nor could brothers 4 or 5 have. She had passed on to the china-sending beyond by then.

  10. I'm so glad you stopped by and told me about this post. I loved your stories (even the creepy one - good to know a good stripping and refinishing did the trick). I have just recently started collecting the Rose Chintz. I just love the colors. Some of my pieces are vintage and some are newer, but they make a lovely table. Now I'm off to go check out your other post you mentioned. (Can you tell I'm on vacation?)

  11. Such a good-looking boots.First Photo colors look good.How to shoot it?Is it designed plans?


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