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Prairie Notes: The Thrill of the Hunt


Fri, Aug 1st, 2003
Posted in Columnists

There are those who grab the sports section first when the paper comes; others flip to the editorial page; I seek out the tiny part of the classifieds reserved for auction advertisements. These I read thoroughly, plotting Saturdays based upon the distance, the goods, and my already-too-booked-calendar.

This passion stems both from my love of old things and my childhood. My mother teases that her resume would say she was a "dealer" and a "stripper" all her life: an antiques dealer, she once owned a couple of antique shops where she sold stripped/refinished furniture and the typical miscellany of antique shops.

Summer evenings, wed often go to the dump to scavenge old bottles or whatever was cast aside. Saturdays, there might be an auction at Kochs near Spicer, where unfortunately, I would spend time gawking at the real-live orangutan that would drink grape pop outside the building rather than remaining inside to learn about antiques. Back then, much of the primitive furniture and farm trappings which were sold were labeled junk. Now, some junk, such as salt-glaze pottery, becomes the focal point of the auction bill, attracting collectors who come solely for that piece. My mother limited herself to three dollars for each salt-glaze pitcher. Now they go for over $300.

And that is how I justify my Saturday scavenging at auctions: with interest rates so low, no doubt the investment in a good antique would be better than saving it, wouldnt it?

But competition for the best items runs high: rarely do I attend any auction where there are fewer than five dealers who may come from as far away as La Crosse or Owatonna. While they cannot pay premium prices for items unless they have buyers, the most successful dealers know their customersor recognize that one or two pieces of furniture may provide the "look" their shop or booth needs.

My past-time has nearly been spoiled, however, by magazines and television shows which have romanticized both auctions and antiquing. According to the magazines, all you need to do to find a perfect collectors item worth thousands is to attend any auction, dig in one dusty box, and, voila! You will be the only one to see the rare Renoir painting and, for less than ten dollars you can own it. Look around the county at the number of antique shops that have opened and closed in the past ten years, and realize that it probably wa .....
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Township Roads - I need a garbage truck

Fri, Jul 25th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

Moving is not an event. It is a process. Moving the "stuff" of ones life is tedious enough, but the process of getting over the feeling that one has moved is really tough. Not only is it walking around boxes and feeling like youre living in a motel ..... 
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Are you game?

Fri, Jul 25th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

As August draws near, sports begins to get more interesting. The NBA off-season is more exciting than the NBA Finals themselves. With Jason Kidd and Alonzo Mourning joining forces in Jersey, the Mailman and the Glove striving for a title in LA, and K ..... 
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Another One From Flaherty.... A second opinion

Fri, Jul 25th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

At one time I thought that I might amount to something. I soon realized that I would never make it as a doctor because I didnt wish to expose myself to the various ills and complaints that any of my patients might have and if I didnt have any patie ..... 
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Of People, Place, and Things:Operation My Bad

Fri, Jul 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

We used to say, My fault, when we made an error. Now the term is, My bad.  Well, CIA Director George Tenet has been saying My bad in public lately. Apparently Tenet cleared President Bushs State of the Union Address wh ..... 
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At Home in the Woods: I found a fossil!

Fri, Jul 18th, 2003
Posted in Columnists

I worried about entertaining my 11 year-old great nephew for the weekend. I expected he would no longer be interested, as he once was, in making up adventures and running through the woods with a stick for a sword.

My plan for ..... 
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