by Cathie Cox
I’m all a-flutter for junk. I just spent the past few hours with a bolt cutter performing surgery on a deliciously rusty set of bedsprings, preparing them to be used individually in all manner of DIY projects. At least now, the old bedsprings won’t be propped up against the side of the garage, and my house will look a tad less like a salvage yard for a few days – until I bring home the next deliciously rusty prop up in its place. Actually, it might only be a day until the slot gets filled again, since we’re heading out in the morning for my second trip in a week to Nephi, home of Picker’s
- Larry Ray’s Heaven-on-earth for junkers. I got to know Larry a little when he
was a vendor at our flea market, fleattitude last month. Larry’s the guy
with the twinkle in his eye and the good stuff that everybody wants in
his booth. Pedal cars, road signs,
rotary telephones, traffic signals (yup, the real kind), rusty wagons and more
rust – lots of rust.
After seeing what treasures Larry had in his flea market booth I just had to see “paradise” for myself. . . so a friend and I set out earlier this week with an empty SUV, some leather gloves and a few cold drinks and made the trek to Nephi. We were not disappointed. In the least. Here’s a partial list of our haul:
* Two old sewing machines, one totally rusted. Several faucet handles. A double bike basket, the kind that goes over the back fender. One wire shopping cart, the old kind. A basket full of ornate door knobs. Several glass bottles. Two Chevrolet emblems. Two feet for a cast iron tub. One rusty bucket. A couple of huge rusty hinges. A small painted wood drawer. A minnow bucket. Two rake heads, very useful for hanging jewelry. And a very old Frigidaire refrigerator.
Oooh – it was a good day for junkin’.So. . . what is this newfound attraction to stuff that used to be tagged to go to the landfill? Junk seems to be popping up everywhere the past few years, and in well-respected antique circles to boot. Take, for example, Junk Bonanza, Junk Salvation and Funky Junk. . . all flea markets ranked among the best in the country (in
Washington state and , respectively). There are books
about junking. A few of my favorites are the “Junk” series by Mary Randolph
Carter; Found, Free, and Flea: Creating Collections from Vintage Treasures
by Tereasa Surratt; and The Salvage Sisters’ Guide to Finding Style in the
Street and Inspiration in the Attic by Hackett and Young. There’s even a
Facebook page and blog that represents a guy’s perspective on junking, Junk
Nation Review. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. . . or, perhaps a
better analogy is that this is just the junk we can see from the curb, not even
touching what’s in the garage, the yard or the shed.Curious as to exactly why
junk is America’s newest antiques darling,” I put out the question to some
fellow junkers. Their replies were eerily similar.* “Simply said, we live in a disposable world
nowadays. I love collecting and junking because it reminds me of my
grandparents and simpler times. Getting something new was a real treat back in
those times. I treasure my vintage finds as they spark memories of my awesome
* “I think that our history and heritage is being lost in the new generation and it's so important. There are certain things that I feel like we need to keep in order for those who come after us know what it was like for those who came before us".* “My grandparents are gone and there were 90 grandchildren to share with, so I watch for things they had so I can have them too. My most treasured item from my grandpa is an old chew can. Smells like grandpa, I love it, cried when my sister found it".* “When I see a piece that resembles something we had when I was a child I want it. It is my "comfort quilt" in this crazy busy world. I miss Mayberry".
There was another stream of thought in the replies I got. This one along the line of how junking is “green” and affordable, and how we can turn our junk-treasures into something “more” than what they originally were: “The creativity of people absolutely blows my mind!! Junking is a new art form and I love seeing what people do with things that would otherwise be destined for the landfills. Personally, I have always been a "Junkie, but I think the recent surge has been spawned from the recession: people are getting more creative with less, to make money, or help make ends meet. Or, just finding fun and inexpensive ways to feed their addictions, create art, etc. Right now I am making some very cool bathroom towel hangers out of cement finishing tools. . . ha – who would of thought?!".
So. . . what do I think about all this? I love antiques that show their age. Love the rust, the dents, the chipping paint, the frayed edges. I love things that are not perfect. Things that have earned their place in the world by having been here for a while. I love my “new” rusty sewing machine that was likely cast off when a newer, sleeker model came along. I think I’ll hang onto it to remind me of all good things from years past. I miss Mayberry, too.