Farewell Old Friend

I recently heard the news that the local mall was finally closing. I think most of us suspected it was inevitable but we chose to deny it because it was always nice to have a mall so close to home, especially one that didn’t require a driving on the highway!

The mall will soon close, so I thought I might head up there to take one last walk around. There were only a few big stores open, and a couple of recently added arcade and play areas for kids. I tried to remember what stores were there when I was a kid and what they were replaced with over the years. It was certainly a challenge to remember.

We are always sad to see stores close for various reasons. I am especially sad about Swansea Mall. This mall was more than just a mall to me. During my younger years it was a treat to go to the mall. Very rarely did we spend money, so it was always exciting to hear we would be going to the mall. Later on in life the mall was much more important to me. It was a sign of independence.  My parents or friend’s parents would drop us off and we were allowed an hour or two to roam the malls, browse and choose exactly how we would spend our babysitting or birthday money. I always loved the music store. I was too cheap to buy an album so I’d spend a few dollars on a single instead. I always longed to have my ears pierced so I could buy pretty earrings at Claire’s.

Today, after I spent most of my walk around the mall taking photos with my phone, I ran into a sign that said photography was not allowed, which broke my heart because I had my mind set on writing this blog post with accompanying photographs and reminiscing about the old days. The sign indicated I should see mall management. Sadly no one was in but I had a brief discussion with a very kind security guard who gave me a few reasons why. He mentioned the retail stores don’t want their stores seen in such dismay, that customers don’t wish to be photographed and of course the ever so important in case of terrorists. I think that last one might be a stretch. So for now, the photos will be filed away on my backup drive and maybe someday I will revisit them. The photos below are three of the many I took, but I have rendered them totally blurry and unrecognizable for privacy. Funny, as I was doing this I realized this is already how my memories of the mall are – fuzzy.

Good Stuff, Rare Stuff – Cheap

This post is long overdue, but during the winter days, I have more time to blog about my summer adventures….

I’ve always loved yard sales. When I was little, my elderly neighbors would have a yard sale every summer. To this day, my mother still tells the story of how I came home with a pitcher from that yard sale. It had a small chip and the neighbors didn’t charge me for it. I bragged about my good deal and I think she laughed for days.

Now that I don’t work weekends anymore, I scope out estate sales. I tend to go the estate sales in the more affluential towns around since the items for sale are higher quality. I mostly look for books and records. But sometimes, if they don’t have what I am looking for, I enjoy looking around. And yes sometimes it can be sad because it is usually the home of elderly folks, but don’t let that bother you.

I have seen all sorts of goodies at estate sales. From vintage clothes to fine china, rare furniture and all sorts of knick-knacks. I would love to have it all but we just don’t have room in our home right now!

If you are moving out on your own for the very first time, and have nothing, an estate sale is a great way to start. You could get all your flatware, cooking bowls, and dishes. Not to mention bookshelves and other furniture. Sometimes you can find office supplies like notebooks, index cards and storage bins. You may even find a quality wood bed frame. Sure it is all used but give it a good dusting and it is new to you! You may find unopened items at estate sales. If the house belongs to someone with the depression era mentality you can find many items new still in the package.

Here’s what no one tells you though:

  1. Look online for photos of the items before you go.
  2. Get there early or everything will be picked over.
  3. Sometimes the photos are used to lure you in but the good stuff may already be taken.
  4. The house may be packed with people so you may have to wait your turn.
  5. Shoppers at estate sales might be weird. Some are very nice though.
  6. Always smell stuff and examine it closely.
  7. Don’t be afraid to go through the closets and drawers. If it isn’t taped closed or labeled – it is yours!

    I always mean to photograph the items I see at estate sales but it is hard with all the people around. Below are some items which have caught my eye. I will have to blog about it again if I take more photos.

Could this be a telephone chair? Ah, those were the days before cell phones….
Oh these lovely old trunks!! They could be filled with treasures!
Kitchen galore!
Dinner tools!
Book heaven!!
Piles of vinyl for me to dig through.
More records. Even some 45s on the floor.
I just loved the design of this old box.

A Simpler Time or Present Day- Who Wins?

Blackstone River near Slater Mill. In the background – abandoned former retail APEX building.

We took a trip to Pawtucket, Rhode Island today to visit a new bookstore, and, weather pending, walk around. After a humid Saturday, today seemed bitter cold. So we took a quick trip to see the exterior of Slater Mill and the visitor center. It was so nice to read about our state’s history. If you don’t know about Samuel Slater, please click HERE to read a bit about him. We have a lot to thank him for, but jobs are specifically what I have in mind. This man had an idea and the brains and used them to create work opportunities and eventually, great success for himself and the community. As we walked around Pawtucket, we noted many empty store fronts and unkept areas. I was so busy imagining the bustling town and factories that once were, that these sites burst my bubble.

On our way home we drove by a Super Walmart, Super Stop & Shop and some other familiar chains, which were all very busy; parking lots full and people rushing around with arm loads of bags. I thought to myself – WHAT HAS HAPPENED HERE?! Holy smokes!! Inside the Walmart are unhappy, underpaid employees and inside Stop & Shop there is one staff member tending to 6-8 self scan machines. I should know, I used to be one of them.

I looked at my husband and we started a conversation about WHY our country isn’t the way it was during Slater’s lifetime. Don’t think me naive here, of course we can’t completely compare today to the 1700s. There isn’t just one answer, rather many that factor into the downfall of this state (and county!) Rhode Island is pretty famous for corrupt government but I don’t want to get into that! I thought about Slater and the time he was alive then I thought about today. During his time technology was at a minimum (heck they were still creating technology) and there were fewer options for personal items one kept. Perhaps most were satisfied with a  simple life. Today, we are so entitled. Everything and anything is literally at our finger tips via Amazon. We can afford (or believe we can afford) our phones, big houses and fancy things. We have debt up to our eyeballs from these large purchases but somehow manage to have the latest iPhone (monthly payments still add up to $699 by the way – they fooled ya!!) Our news is delivered to us via our Facebook all day so we don’t need to pick up newspaper or turn on the TV. We don’t even need to call our friends anymore to see what they are up to because we see it on social media.

So today we purchase items made or partially made in other countries and shop at places that begin with “Super” because it is convenient to shop in one large place. But is that really better than stopping at each vendor table at a farmer’s market? Or driving down main street to shop Mom & Pop shops? If our phones supposedly make our lives easier and more organized, why don’t we have the time to be conscious of where we shop and how we spend our money? There seems to be a slow and steady “SHOP LOCAL” movement but it sure is expensive. We’d like to support the local farms at the farmer’s market but who can afford $25 for a small square of beef? Well wait a minute, you own a $700 phone, shouldn’t you be able to afford the beef that is less than your monthly phone (hardware) payment? Could this be a conundrum?

We were once so successful because we had drive, we were persistent, cared for each other and our community. We had goals and had to work hard for what we wanted in life. It was a hard day’s work and we slept well from it. We wanted very little and something very simple – a few personal items, a nice place to live and a warm meal on the table. We enjoyed the beauty of the outdoors without taking staged photos for our social media pages. Some days I dream of returning to a time like that.

Weekends Are For Antiques

Today we drove to Taunton, Massachusetts to check out an antique store one of friends told us about. The place was so huge we got lost twice! We’ve decided to visit another time because one cannot possibly see it all in one day! Our original plan was to check out the vinyl records, but we were so distracted by all the neat stuff!

Mom & I would visit antique stores when I was a child and I just loved it. I realize this is odd, but I AM ODD! It has taken me a while to figure out what my obsession is with antique stores is really all about. I have to admit, I don’t buy & collect antiques. I suppose most people antique for the money, right? For me though, antique stores are a way for me to remember the way we were. Corny, but true. I need something classic in my hectic, intangible, digitized life!! There is something so solid and sure about wood furniture and manual cameras!

I encourage you to visit antique stores. It made for great conversation between me and my husband! At some points during the visit we really had to use our brains (NO GOOGLING) to remember how some devices or items were used at the time. Please enjoy some of the photos below.

A whole room of records!
What a gem.




VINTAGE!! Remember when clothing was MODEST?!
It ALWAYS lies….
Doesn’t fit in my pocket like a smartphone but still pretty cool.
Love vintage books.
We still cannot figure out what kind of medical equipment this is!
Oh vintage Mickey!