Tuesday, March 30, 2010


When we moved to Utah from Southwestern Pennsylvania, I decided to make a go at selling antiques. My brother, John, was an antiques dealer in Boise, and he made regular trips back east to gather the goods. So when we knew we would be moving west I called and asked him what furniture people in the west preferred.

“Well,” he thought for a minute, “people with refined taste and money tend to go for walnut and mahogany, older pieces, with integrity. But they are pricey, and I’d hate for you to tie up your capital (ummmm, what capital?) in a few pieces. More people in the west like oak, for some reason, even though some purists call it the poor man’s wood. It sells for less, and more people can afford it. Truth is, Cori, you should buy what you like in case no one else wants it and you’re stuck with it”

My brother is wise.

So I bought half a moving van full of furniture and started selling in shows here in Utah. Every 6 months the Walter Larsen Antiques Show came to the Salt Palace, and I rented a space. Antiquers are a breed. Some mysterious hormone emits from all of them, and they have an instant identification with each other. I always enjoyed manning my booth, chatting with patrons, and getting to know the other sellers in the neighboring booths. Inevitably there were a few vendors who sold antique and vintage toys. One would expect them to be a playful and jolly lot, but more often they were a tad cranky and sometimes downright sour. I suppose they became that way because they heard this phrase over and over from people visiting their booths:

“Hey, I had one of those! Oh my heck, you want HOW MUCH for that?”

You have to admit, for one who has any childhood memories at all, a stroll through one of those stalls is a blast from the past.

I sold antiques for a number of years, until music took over my emotional and entrepreneurial space. Then, whenever I sold a high boy or a hall tree, I used the money to buy a piece of recording equipment, or a new guitar, or a trip to Nashville. I retained for years, however, that Garage Sale homing device that took the place of the antiques auction homing device. I have finally overcome the temptation to spend Saturday mornings at Garage Sales. David is very happy about this. The next step is to learn to let go of all those Garage Sale finds that remain stored in our basement. Poor Dave! (Happy Birthday, Dear, by the way! Maybe my gift to you should be to give something away rather than buy stuff! Hmmmm.)

When we used to travel for Dave’s work, at least once a year for continuing legal education of National Bar conventions, I spent my time at the local antiques stores. We don’t travel much any more, but when we do I still make those visits. The nostalgia is like sweet perfume, intoxicatingly beautiful and reminiscent to me, and it helps set the days of the trip apart from my typical daily life. We especially love New England, for its history and its antiquities. New England, and Williamsburg, and of course PA. I do miss those places.
YUP, I HAD ONE OF THOSE is personal in so many ways. Not only is it a semi-tribute to the me that was once an antiques dealer, it is a portable treasure trunk to my past. Readily accessible and easy to store. I did indeed have a Raggedy Ann, with which I slept until the day I was married (true confessions). The scent of Play Doh sends me to kindergarten in a flash. I still get excited to race a pair of matchbox cars across my hickory floors; and I can almost taste the paste on my tongue as we filled S&H Green Stamp books after our trips to the grocery store. Trips to that teeny S&H catalogue store were like Christmas in themselves.
And when my friends tried to convince me there was not really a Santa Clause, I begged the heavens to show me they were wrong. Heaven answered, for that year at least, and I was vindicated, because Mom and Dad could not have afforded that Chatty Cathy; not when they had so many kids; not when there was so much else we needed.

Something about Christmastime allows us to sift back through our adulthood, back through the teenage years and into the heart of childhood. Vintage toys facilitate the trip. Go ahead, visit one. Go ahead, lay down 35 bucks for that truck you had when you were a kid. If nothing else, it keeps those vintage dealers in business. Otherwise, who would keep the tangible history of our American childhoods?

My grandkids Timothy and Anna Bella are staying with us for a while, with their mommy and daddy. I thrill at the daily the hugs around my legs. My lump of an old woman heart leaps with delight when I watch Timo run down the driveway in his Mickey Mouse ears, pure hearted and full of innocence. I rue the day some bully tells him he’s childish for wearing them.

“Stay back, you fiends!” I scowl at the future peeking around the corner, lurking there in the hall outside the Kindergarten room. “Back you go, you beastly awareness! Let him be a boy. Let him hold hands with his cousin Sophie as they run out to recess! Back! Back!”

I try, unsuccessfully, to keep the future at bay. But alas, they walk into it themselves. Every one of my children did.

And so did I.

But somewhere, deep down in the space where giggles are stored, that child remains in all of us. It returns, if we let it, and we are lucky, when we see a toy that once sat brand-spanking new beside our Christmas tree.

Not everything about my childhood was sweet and pure. But so much of it was joy! No, you can’t put a price on a childhood of joy. A childhood where at least one morning a year, when the magic of a fresh snowfall put a postcard-like glitter over the landscape, there was a gift you could not get yourself. It is in some small way a token representation of the greatest gift offered to all mankind. The one we cannot purchase ourselves. The gift with the tag that says priceless.

A childhood of joy… an invisible toybox full of treasured memory…Yup, I surely had one of those!

Yup, I Had One of Those

1.) A stroll down the sidewalk, a Saturday morning
In a quaint little town at the edge of the woods
The shops were all charming, but one caught her fancy
Josephine’s Antiques & Fine Vintage Goods

Build I.) There, in the front of the window
Just like she was brand new
Hey, look at that Chatty Cathy
She said, Once I had one of those, too

CHORUS: Once I had one of those
Yup, I had one of those
When nobody else would, she’d talk to me
Just like the one that I saw on TV
That was the year Santa made me believe
Yup, I had one of those, Yup, I had one of those
2.) She could not believe it, when she started looking
How much of her childhood was worth quite a lot
Skipper and Barbie, her old ukulele
The Hi Fi her S&H Green Stamps had bought

Build II) Slinky, and Gumby and Hot Wheels
Even an old Mickey Mouse
She said, Golly, I wish I had kept mine
They could have paid for my house

CHORUS: Once I had one of those
Yup, I had one of those
Now they want as much for a Raggedy Ann
As my brother paid for his Volkswagen Van
So I’m gonna keep every treasure I can
Yup, I had one of those…

Yup, I had one of those
All of the laughter that came with the toys
The ones Santa brought to the good girls and boys
You can’t put a price on a childhood of joys
Yup, I had one of those…..Yup, I had one of those


  1. I Love that song! It's amazing how closely related out childhoods were though 10 years apart! Thanks for always expressing so much of what I feel.
    Love you,

    PS Happy Bday to David!!!

  2. Hi Cori, it's Suzy (Geary) Larson. I have loved reading your blog. Unfortunately, Parker is graduating from law school this June with no job. I hate to even ask, but am wondering if Dave or colleagues of his may have any kind of leads on jobs available. Please don't feel any pressure to do anything. I just thought I'd use any contacts I could. Thanks!

  3. One year, I wanted a Spirograph SO BADLY. So badly that I snuck into my mother's closet and rifled through the sack of presents (birthday) till I found it. Later, she sternly asked if I had invaded that secret space, and I looked up at her and said, "No. Why would you think that?" "Because," she said, "A certain gift was right at the top of the stack." And really, I probably was as blank of mind as my look suggested, because the moment I'd seen it, I'd forgotten it so that I could be surprised later - without the anxiety of wondering -

    Then on Christmas I really, really wanted a Video Village game. I loved that show - where they had the little village set, like a life-sized Candyland game - and kids who were on it got to roll giant dice or something and move along the game-board sidewalk. When they landed in front of a store, in the window, up popped the picture of a prize toy.

    I was fascinated, and convinced that the little game would be just as magical. And they got it for me. But they forgot to put it under the tree—we found it up on top of their closet later. My joy was undimmed by the wait. One year, I found the softest pink sleeping kitty pajama keeper - stuffed behind a living room chair long after the presents had been opened. After that, I never believed we were quite finished, even when we were.

    But Antique stores make me sad. Things that once belonged to somebody all crowded in together, lost and homeless. Still - I love watching Antiques Roadshow.

    I can just picture you sitting in that booth, having the time of your life being kind to all those shoppers -