Thursday, September 14, 2006
Collecting and Dusting
Yesterday the old cars were on display on Main Street. One afternoon a week, during summer, they close off a few blocks and blare ‘50s music and only let old classic cars park there. Then all the moderately wealthy mid-fifties white-haired men park, set up lawn chairs, and watch everybody watching everybody else. I couldn’t figure out why I had this echo of déjà vu as I watched a particular man take a dusting wand from his trunk and lovingly caress the dust off the left quarter panel of his 1962 Mercury Cougar.
Then I realized it was the dust wand, a slinky maroon colored fuzzy thing. It was like the one Sis used to use to dust her Hummel collection. Back in the late ‘60s, when I lived in Massachusetts, a distant in-law, who everybody used to call Sis, lived next door. She had grown sons and a husband who recently retired and sold his gas station. He had a name: it was Earl, no kidding. But her name was lost to me because everybody called her Sis. She had a maroon feather duster and shelves and shelves of Hummels, and that was before the word “collectible” had been invented, I think. I thought they were ugly, because back then I don’t think the word “fugly” had been invented either.
People collect stuff. If they have sufficient disposable income, they can collect collectibles that have acquired a value greater than their intrinsic worth, and that appreciate in value just sitting there being dusted. It’s a nice thing to do, and I think we do it not so much to increase or display our level of disposable income, but to reassure ourselves about something. I collect Dopey figurines.
One of them sits outside in my back garden, gathering cobwebs because I don’t have a maroon colored feather duster to dust him. I do know that I can’t take my Dopeys with me, and whoever inherits them will put them in a thrift store collection bin, or on e-Bay, or in a cardboard box at the curb on trash day. I wonder what happened to Sis’ Hummel figurines, and who is dusting them now.