Thursday, February 2, 2012

Oddities and Antiquities

On Saturday afternoon I headed down to Gordonsville. I had a friend's birthday present to buy and wanted to get her stuff that had been made in the U.S. so I was on the lookout for any interesting gift or antique shops. In Orange, nothing was jumping out at me so I went round the back roads and by chance came up to a store with the words, 'Body Bronzing & Bohemian Goods'. That sounded mighty intriguing and my foot was out of the car door before I'd killed the engine.
I saw this big black box in one of the rooms and my initial thought was that it was a coffin then I remembered the sign outside, 'Body Bronzing'. This was one very cool tanning salon. Not much room to maneuver but the machines were top notch and I was very tempted to just close the door and hop in.
Every room was a delight as I meandered my way around the building, each time surprised when I came across another tanning bed.
I really liked these torches made of bits of glass containers. Might be back for a couple of these. I did find my friend a present but fell victim to that common female trait of Shopping For Someone Else But Spending More On Oneself. Oh well...
Really liked this Cure Box too but managed to contain myself. I left the store and carried on towards Gordonsville where a new gift shop had opened and has been calling my name for some time. It stocked quite a bit of Folk Art stuff which I love and once again I fell victim to SFSEBSMOO. This birthday shopping was getting expensive. I finally managed to get back to the car and then a final spurt to Rob's house where I was relieved to put shops and shop windows behind me. I was worn out!
On Sunday after a hearty breakfast we drove out to Lake Anna for some fresh air. It really was fresh out and very cold with a nippy wind and silly me had forgotten to bring a jacket so I had to borrow one of Rob's humungous coats which I could quite happily have camped in if I'd had a tent pole or two, it was so big. But it was warm and stopped the biting wind. We noticed a storage unit was having a yard sale so pulled in to nose around. There wasn't much that caught our eye until we went into a unit and spotted the most horriblest ugliest most grotesque mask ever with a $1000 price tag attached.
We looked at it and muttered for a while and finally Rob had to enquire while we chuckled what warranted the huge price tag. The owner roared with laughter and admitted it was just a ruse to get people laughing and talking. It certainly worked and we spent a while chatting with him and informing him he'd do well selling it on EBay before Halloween. It was very well made but damn it was ugly.
A little further on I yelled at Rob to stop as we passed this barn. I loved the signs on the side and simply had to have a photo. He was most obliging, turning the car around and even driving into the owner's yard and positioning the car so I could take a photo without getting out. I couldn't help laughing at his cheek and we left pretty sharpish. Sometimes he's the bestest asisstant!
We eventually got to a deserted Lake Anna and realized as we stepped out of the car why it was so desolate. Although it was sunny the wind was harsh, whipping up the water's edge and tugging at our jackets.
We walked around the lake's edge for about half a mile but decided it really was too cold for hiking so headed back to the parking lot. Driving back towards Mineral I asked Rob to look out for a store I'd noticed on the way to the lake. All I could remember was that it had signs on its walls and I recalled there was a lot of green. Sure enough a little later we drove up to The Old Whitlock's Store.
This was a treasure trove inside and soon we were chatting with Bill, the owner, while we walked around investigating everything. Bill told us the building was 165 years old and he'd restored it with his wife. He'd done a remarkable job, it was like stepping back in time. As he talked it was easy to imagine long skirts and dusty boots walking these same floorboards during the Civil War. The ceiling planks still showed the woodworker's tool marks and the doorsteps were bowed from countless footsteps. Every nook and cranny was filled with wonderful antiques and it wasn't too long before I'd found some things that I simply couldn't put back down. Bill had some old cameras and I just had to have one or two for my collection. While Rob and Bill chatted, I deliberated and pondered and huffed and puffed as I tried to make a decision. It really was just too bad that I didn't have a bottomless wallet but Bill very kindly agreed to give me a discount on two cameras of 15%.
I also spotted a business card on the counter from American Pickers, a fabulous antique show, website here.
Bill showed us a cabinet full of memorabilia about the old store. There were old posters, pamphlets, packaging and signs and even part of some scales used for weighing gold which Bill had found in a wall of the building during restoration. The old original JC Whitlock sign is now back on the front of the store too. Bill had been walking through the local woods and felt drawn to some old ruins. He'd rummaged around the underground around a chimney and found the battered sign which he'd brought home and then hung back up in its rightful place after cleaning it up.
Rob loved this old model railway at the back of the store. There was also an upstairs of the shop that held more goodies. As Bill revealed the history of the place he also told us a couple of ghost stories and I decided to record him while he narrated. I've put together a short video using a couple of audio and video clips from my iPhone and a couple of snaps, also taken with my phone. Here's the link.
This store was a great find and will likely become a regular haunt but unfortunately we had to tear ourselves away to get home. A stop on the way back to Rob's for coffee and pie and then the journey for me back to Meadow House and a hungry Kota.
And not to forget, a car full of bags to unload...

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