Booty from my latest thrift shop expedition:
Long have I wished that I had not cut up a certain snazzy vintage LP cover to make a crappy collage in 1996. I’ve regretted that I hacked up the hipster-ish lettering, and that I can no longer enjoy the sight of a guy who looks like a golf pro at some municipal course in Philadelphia WEARING A SPORTS COAT in a swingin’ romp with a doll in a beehive hairdo. That kind of cultural cluelessness is so authentic; I should never have desecrated it with a pair of scissors.
And then, last Thursday, I was browsing through the old records in a Westchester thrift shop and I found ANOTHER copy of the LP! “Let Yourself Go!” is a “Limited Collector’s Album” of various Columbia artists (Julie Andrews, Jerry Vale, Steve Lawrence and Edie Gorme, Johnny Mathis, etc.) created exclusively for American Express. American Express: remember how they used to OWN the traveler’s check biz? How they were synonymous with “jet setting” (sort of)? Hence, “Let Yourself Go!”
I made that high-pitched squealing sound that you make when you go to a thrift shop and find something brain-freezing multi-delicioso (I know you know what I’m talking about) and I might have danced a little bit. I wondered if I’d ever be able to communicate to Top Cat exactly how wondrousand brain-freezingly multi-delicioso it is to have bought this record twice in my life. (When I got home, I tried: but I don’t think he understands my worshipful feelings when it comes to thrift shops.) I plan to spend many years gazing fondly at this artifact of the “trying to be hip un-hip mid-1960s“, a time and esthestic that I have very complicated and unresolved feelings for.
(Where were YOU in 1965? I was in 4th grade, madly in love with George Harrison — I was sure I’d grow up to be a hip beehived jet setter; sadly, I’ve never had “big” hair, I didn’t marry a Beatle or anyone with an English accent, I never got to wear Go-Go boots and, even sadder, IT WILL NEVER BE THE 1960s AGAIN.)
I also bought an old book about D-Day because it’s a good book on a topic I am quite interested in, and because there was an old bookmark left inside it:
This is Mr. Saunders’ boarding pass for a flight from London to Rome on April 9th, year unspecified. I find this a rather poetic bit of ephemera. (My standards aren’t very high.)
Next, I went through all the old cookbooks — fanned the pages and shook them — but nothing interesting fell out. I used to get a lot of good stuff by shaking old cookbooks (by “good stuff” I mean 30-year old theatre tickets, photographs of pet parrots, old Valentines…for some reason, in the olden days women used to tuck personal items in their favorite cook books) but excavating anything good from cook books these days is getting harder and harder.
Then I took my treasures up to the cash register and forked over my $2.00 to a very sweet young guy who is the first person under the age of 65 I’ve ever seen running the register in the 15 years I’ve been haunting this particular thrift shop. I was too bedazzled by my good fortune to think to stop and quiz him how he got my dream job: managing a Salvation Army Thrift Shop. (Why do I continue to miss opportunities for a story? Why?)
Anyhoo. It was a very good day at the thrift shop. And the best part was that they had put up Christmas decorations, and were playing a radio station that was doing wall-to-wall Christmas carols, and it all struck just the right chord of melancholy and optimism, cheerfulness and pathos, that any great thrift shop should achieve. Thus:
Nestled in between the sorrow and the used shoes, the old fur coats and the second chances: I could LIVE here.