From the AT Staff: Invisible collectibles

I cannot see or touch one of my most valuable collectible items; it is a memory from earliest childhood that involves playing cards.

My family – parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles would gather for their every-other-week card party held in my grandparents’ dining room.

Each family would bring their table and folding chairs and something to eat. After all the greetings and hugs, the adults got down to the serious business of playing Sheepshead or Smear, changing tables often, so everyone got to play and visit with everyone else. The dozen or so cousins in attendance played Bingo; Thimble, Thimble, Who’s Got the Thimble; I Spy with My Little Eye; or Old Maid.

I remember how lucky I felt when Grandma Schultz would let me sit on her lap at the table with the big people while she played. She sometimes even let me throw her card onto the middle of the table.

Even bedtime was fun, because we got to sleep in “The Parlor,” a very special room, never entered without special permission because it was only for important visitors. The lucky child, determined by drawing straws, got the “privilege” of bunking on the couch, which was scratchy (horse-hide?), narrow, and short, while the rest of the cousins were relegated to the floor.

I remember drifting off to sleep listening to good-natured table pounding, groans of distress, hearty laughter, squeals of surprise and phrases like “no schneider,” “don’t you have any trump?” “did you forget how to deal?” and “you know you can’t win with a red hand.”

Back then I didn’t recognize what I was feeling, but I liked it. Now, 50+ years later I recognize that what I felt was love and security. I was in a house full of people who all loved me, and each other, and who weren’t afraid to show it. And they knew how to have fun. Those card parties reinforced my feelings of belonging to a family that would always accept and love me. Maybe, someday, they might even let me join them around their card tables.

That’s why I enjoyed putting together this issue’s cover story. It made me feel as good as I felt on that scratchy horse hide couch listening to all the fun in the next room.

We’d like to know: Do you have an antique, vintage or collectible item that brings warm memories? Does an everyday item from today send you back – in your mind – to a bygone time?

E-mail and let us know, or visit the Question of the Week on the AT blog, and post a reply there.