This past weekend Jeff took me to a special store called Queen of Hearts. Sounds like the perfect store for Bad Alice, doesn’t it? And it is.
Queen of Hearts is an antique store that houses staged displays from different dealers. Oh my God, I wanted to just roll around in the glory of it all. There were wonderful pieces of furniture, some of them as-is and some of them gussied up in interesting ways. One section had cookie jars. One gentleman specialized in vintage license plates. There were more cigar boxes than any Pinterest crafter could ever want.
But it was generally the small things that caught my eye, like the set of pink mixing bowls with the strawberry motif, and the casserole dishes - you know the ones - with little flowers. Most of them flooded me with a sense of nostalgia. A spinning wheel like the one in my paternal grandfather’s house. A butter churn like the one I found in my maternal grandparents’ basement. A straw purse with hideous flowers like one my mom had. Old Butterick patterns. Jeff even found some books on record, pulling out by chance one that contained Black Beauty with, of all things, my first name written on it in marker.
By that time I was beginning to feel a bit teary eyed. I missed my parents. I remembered my mom cutting out fabric on the kitchen table - she never pinned but instead weighted the pattern pieces with table knives. She had an old fruitcake tin filled with buttons (I still have those buttons) and an old Whitman’s Sampler box filled with thread, some of it so old it was on wooden spools. I remembered my dad’s old cigar boxes filled with arrowheads. In storage there are two old, heavy black typewriters much nicer than the ones I saw on display. Soon a chain of associations led me further afield. When Abby was little my dad found a huge lot of Matchbox cars at a flea market and gave them to her. Whenever I open the cabinet where I keep our spices, I smell the same timeless scent I smelled in our spice cabinet growing up, and I’ve stashed my mom’s recipe box there. In one section of the store I found a few old thermoses, the kind with the glass interiors that always broke. How many times I went to drink my lunch milk and found shards floating on top. Whatever happened, I wondered, to the metal Laugh-in lunchbox I used in first grade, with a paper name tag held in place by grubby scotch tape curling up at the edges?
Oh, I wanted to buy so many things, as if I could somehow recapture the best moments of my childhood and carry them with me when I left the store. Instead we left with a set of sundae glasses, something my family never owned, and surprised the girls with ice cream and fudge sauce.