Shopping for Nostalgia and Creating a Good Old Fashioned Childhood

pontiac
Slide of me and my mom in her blue Pontiac LeMans, circa 1973.
I'm a bit of a thrift store junkie. There's something about finding treasured objects that you can't always buy in stores anymore that keeps me going back for more. When I shop, I keep a few prizes in mind that I'm always searching for (the perfect cookie jar, for example) but I'm more interested in the unexpected. I don't want my house ever to look like I just bought the store display somewhere, as lovely as it may be. I want it to feel cultivated and real.

Recently, I spied on a high shelf (I'm 5' 2" so that could be almost any shelf, really) a yellow box that contained a working Kodak Carousel projector. (You know, the one Don Draper named in an episode of Mad Men.) When my father passed away a few years ago, I inherited a box of old family photos, letters my siblings and I had written as kids, and also a bunch of slides. The slide boxes were labeled things like "Heather's 1st Birthday" and "Giveout Creek" a rustic ranch property my parents bought in the 1970s in north eastern Washington. When I first went through the box, I held up a few to the light and could kind of see what was going on, but with the projector, it's a whole new experience. 

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One of my favorite thrift store finds: Kodak Carousel projector.
My boys got a kick out of seeing me as a baby, and noting our resemblances. The images of "the ranch" as we always referred to the property, remind me of the times we spent there, being kids in the country, playing in the barn and chasing mice in the field. And later, as a teenager, I remember arriving at the ranch, pulling in to the field and I'm listening to Depeche Mode on my Walkman, and my dad says to me 'turn that off now, you're in John Denver country'. I'm not even sure he was a John Denver fan, but Country Roads (now the official state song of West Virginia) will always be the song that reminds me of him.

And suddenly I realize that I'm now trying to recreate that experience for my own family, with our cabin we bought in the mountains last year. I spent a lot of time in the country as a kid, and I want my own kids to have the kind of memories and connection to the region that I feel. Tearing them away from technology, they seem to go through some sort of drug withdrawl, but once they finally break free, I know they're building the most wonderful memories. 


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