Antiques: Am I one?

My grandchildren think I’m an antique.

I remember watching in relief as my grandparents had indoor plumbing installed in their home. No more midnight trips to the backyard. Yaaayyy! It always took me what seemed like hours to go back to sleep after a trip outside – it felt like I might have one of those outhouse spiders crawling around in the bed with me. The alternative was to use the chamber pot, something I absolutely refused to do. I had SOME dignity, even as a child.

I sewed my first doll dress on a treadle sewing machine. I managed to send the needle partway through one of my fingers.

I rode on the back of draft horses as they pulled a hay wagon that was being loaded with hay bales by the farmhand, not a machine. My grandparents had a tractor, but it was kept in the shed and used only for the really BIG jobs because the gasoline it ran on, was so expensive at 27 cents per gallon.

I remember our first television set … tiny screen and three channels. A remote? What’s a remote? Milk delivered to the back door. Stores closed on Sunday. A typewriter with a platen, a ribbon and a carriage return. What? No delete button?

My grandchildren can hardly believe some of the stories I tell of my growing up years. “Wow! Did they even have lightbulbs then?” is one memorable quote.

Some mornings I wake up with joints that are stiff and sore. I often feel like a turtle on its back as I try to sit up after a half-hour in the recliner; I huff and puff as I climb the second set of stairs. Sometimes it’s hard not to feel like an antique.

But, what makes something an antique?

An antique might be a 1945 Ford, an Early American pie safe or a wonderful painting by an Old Master. An antique could be a postcard sent from a lonesome soldier during WWI, your great-great-grandmother’s teacup, or a brooch found at an estate sale. An antique, while not necessarily always pretty or expensive, has class. Someone has seen the value in it or cherished the memories it brings. Someone knows that under what might be a not-so-beautiful exterior, it’s good and solid and they want to find a place for it in their life.

By that definition, I guess I’m OK with being an antique.

— Sandy                

Karen Knapstein

About Karen Knapstein

Karen Knapstein is the editor of Antique Trader magazine. A lifelong collector and student of antiques, she has written dozens of articles on vintage collectibles and their historical context. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Joseph, and daughter, Faye. She can be reached at