DIY Local History Lessons

This week, we get another excellent Morgan idea.  Our wedding reception is a brunchish, tea party type of thing, so we’ve been getting our hands on as much old tea service as we can.  Thrift shops have been our friend in this endeavor, and she had the great idea to do an article on the things you can learn about a place by looking at what’s for sale at local resale parlors.  Specifically, I’ll be writing about a store called Goodeals and what treasures lurk within.

20190927_1505193179755413105201510.jpgLet’s be clear.  I’m writing this week about what a local thrift store can teach you.  I use that word “local” specifically, because small businesses live a different life from the big ones.  Going to Goodwill will not yield the same experience as a dusty little mom n’ pop shop because people get rid of different things different ways.  If they can sell it themself, they will, but if they can’t (but think a store could), they’ll donate it to Goodwill.  After that, everything else goes into two piles: interesting and not interesting.  If it’s interesting, it goes to a thrift store.  If not, it’s goodbye.

It’s comes as no surprise, then, that I love thrift stores; I’m a pack rat.  The difference, I believe, between a hoarder and an avid collector can be boiled down to one particular discipline: organization and inventory.  I’m acutely aware of all of the things I possess, even though there are a lot of them.  They generally fall into specific categories or have a use that’s specific, if not necessarily an everyday need.  If it sounds like I’m defending myself, that’s because I totally am.  I love old things, particularly glassware and signage, but who can resist classic furniture and knick knacks?  Stores like this are dangerous for me to enter, because I cannot leave without something new (to me) in hand.

20190927_1513383050122472447215599.jpgMorgan realized while wandering around Goodeals that visiting such a store in a brand new town would be an excellent way to see the history of the area from an angle you might not otherwise be able to get.  At Goodeals, for instance, there was a surprising amount of engine parts and mechanical odds and ends, all quite well organized.  There were Pennsylvania school books and Disney VHS’s and more records than we had time to sift through.  A box of sheet music piqued my attention, and the remarkable selection of rustic decor was of particular fascination to Morgan (it reminds her of home).

The Pennsylvania school books reminded me of a project my Dad sent me on while growing up.  He bought me a pack of U.S. State postcards (it had all of them) and had me write to myself from each State.  The Delaware one was easy; just put it in the mailbox in front of my childhood home and we’re good, right?  Wrong!  That sucker came back a couple days later sporting a Philadelphia postmark.  That’s how small Delaware is; many people even from this region of the country couldn’t find us on a map.


This is an exercise that I intend to pull once I’m traveling full time. It’s also the sort of thing that the more I do, the better I’ll get at it. I realize even as I write this that my finds would be useless without my prior knowledge of the area, so I’ll have to pair this type of research with casual interviews (e.g. chatting up drunk locals in bars) to get the full story.  That, dear readers, is the sort of writing I want to be doing.  I’d like to go to a place I’ve never been and find a campsite.  From there, I’ll do a bit of research and find some interesting or fun things to do, as well as what makes this particular area tick (Is it farming?  Is it fishing?  Is it tourism?).  I’ll be able to tell you what would be worth making the trip (or not to), and I’ll have some entertaining stories to tell along the way.  The catch is that my income currently depends on a job that is not this blog.  If that were to change, the diversity and overall quality of my blogging would improve drastically.  That’s currently a stretch goal, and I understand that, but (and this is a rather personal thing) I don’t feel as though I have much momentum right now.  Your likes and follows have kept me going this long; make no mistake.  I just want to hear back from you.

I know you’re there; WordPress gives me analytics and I consistently get likes.  Tell me what you want to hear.  I’ll listen, no matter where the feedback comes from.  My options are currently limited in several ways, but I believe that’s no barrier to my ability to produce entertaining content.  On that subject, I’m going to revamp the way that I choose my topics, and my supporters on Patreon will become a part of that process.  More on that in the future, as there are details to be ironed out.  In the meantime, go see what you see at that thrift store you’ve been driving past; it might bring back happy memories you’ve forgotten.



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