Monday, March 7, 2011
Memories & The Collecting Modus operandi - Pt. 1
So that's where today's "wuz" is going to land with pin point precision. Behold a few of my trinkets and trash, er, I mean TREASURES, that my collecting mind's well oiled time machine has retrieved from my foggy past:
First we'll start with a little ashtray that holds a GREAT DEAL of sentimental value for me. I have absolutely no idea where I got my original from, or where it eventually disappeared to, but I fell in love with it as soon as read the comical inscription in the ashtray itself. The ashtray is actually a souvenir from Niagara Falls. It has two snakes coiled one with the other with their heads raised, looking at one another as if they were having a conversation. In the ashtray it reads "I remember you when you didn't have a pit to hiss in".Still to this day, every time I think of that old saying, I just start smiling.
I clearly remember the original I had before it went it's mysterious bygone way. It had one of the snake heads broken off when I found it and the one remaining snake head only had one of it's semi precious ruby eyes. OK, ok, so they were just plastic rhinestones. But it didn't matter! I LOVED that saying because at the time, I didn't have a pit to hiss in, or too many if any pots to pee in.
By my own choice, I was truly living off the street at this time. Post parting ways with our country's glorious military, I was more or less just bumming around and staying with whomever I could score a couch or cot from. I had an old cardboard box that I used to hide in a storage shed and that was where I kept my clothes and what few belongings I had at the time. I may have found this ashtray in one of a 100 different places, but it was definitely during this time that I found it nonetheless. I can assuredly tell you that I doubt I paid much more than a nickle for it because of not having much more than a nickle to pay for it at the time!.
Anyhow, I had just scored a job and a single room at Mrs. Hills boarding house in Pontiac, Michigan on West Tennyson Street. The room was 25.00 a week, was about 8'X10', and included a community bathroom (joy!). It also included the fact that Mrs. Hills would clean your room once a week on a specific day. My specific day was Wed. There was just one minor detail that really concerned me. Being an old pot head from way back (well, at least I was back then), this cleaning business terrified the daylights out of me! This just seemed far too grievous a breach of my privacy as related to my more so subversive activities. But all that fear and anxiety soon faded as I eventually made the predictable mistake of forgetting about Wed. being the official cleaning day. When I left that morning, I forgot and left several decent size roaches in my ashtray on the night stand from the night before.
When I returned that evening....
I crept up the old creaky wooden steps, put my key in the door and opened it...
There they were! I had worried all day long for nothing about getting kicked out of that darn boarding house, and there they were, all accounted for and fully intact. Bless her heart, she had even lined them up for me on the edge of the ashtray so as to be right on top of the two coiled snakes!
I would have married Mrs. Hills right there and then but she was close to 80 years old at the time and I hadn't seen Harold & Maude yet. That woman was beyond AMAZING. She was in her late 70s and still zoomed up and down those old wooden steps like she had wings on her back and a song in her heart. This being while cleaning two (she had one right next to the other) BIG, 3 story boarding houses. You would be hard pressed to find one spec of dust in either place. I mean it, they even smelled clean. I stayed there for almost a year before moving on.
And here it is for your very own viewing pleasure, minus the roaches, a treasured piece that took me nearly 30 years to find again and procure: