Readers' Letters: Chuckling at antiques-inspired memories

Antique Trader magazine readers share their nostalgic memories about their first car and misunderstandings about chamber pots mistaken for soup tureens.
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Antique Trader Readers' Letters

Still chuckling at ‘The Way To Go’

I really enjoyed the informative article “The Way to Go” by Dr. Anthony J. Cavo in the 16 January 2019 issue. I was born in 1940 to hard-working but poor immigrants and lived with no indoor plumbing as a young child and made full use of the items mentioned along with an outhouse.

The girls had the ironstone pots while my brothers had to use enameled metal ones, which they duly complained about in cold weather. After use they were emptied into a “slop jar” and emptied into the outhouse in the morning.

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I can’t help but collect pots, slop jars and homemade wooden commodes because they amuse me. Now that I’ve shared my expertise, I would like to share several fun experiences.

Pots and jars always had lids. To the experienced eye it is easy to see the difference from cooking pots and serving dishes. As they have been separated over the years they are usually sold and used as cooking and serving items.

I subscribe to shelter magazines and purchase books also and frequently see chamber pots described as “soup tureens.” I’ve seen them proudly displayed in china cabinets on TV rehab and decorating shows. One time a magazine article had the homeowner gush about her great-grandmother’s ironstone soup tureen that held soup on her wedding supper. It had a place of honor on a vintage dining table.

I wrote the magazine a letter telling them they needed to get some “old people” on the payroll because grandma’s tureen only held soup AFTER the wedding supper. I wonder why I never had a reply ... Ha-Ha ...

A couple of years ago I was traveling and asked the motel employee if there were any flea markets or junk stores nearby. He directed me to a store that turned out to be in a “swanky” part of town with high-end antiques businesses. Not my thing, but I decided to go into one for the heck of it.

Everything was sparkling, oiled, and displayed almost like a museum in settings like rooms. I walked into a dining room and was approached by a lovely young woman who could have come from the pages of Vogue magazine. As she very professionally inquired if she could be of assistance, I spotted a nice English ironstone pot and lid in a place of honor on a very expensive dining room table surrounded by crystal and silver.

I was laughing so much I thought I might have use for the pot. When I could catch my breath I told her what it was and she whipped out her phone to look it up. After about a minute or so she actually let out a scream and with a horrified look on her face she begged me to take it off the table.

I did. She almost pushed me out while saying “Get it out of here ... PLEASE and don’t let anyone see you!”

I said,” I can have it for free?” and she told me to just get it out - as if I was to blame. I happily took it to my car and read the tag which described it as a “early 19th century soup tureen/ $280.”

It proudly sits in the built-in china cabinet in my 151-year-old house.

— E.R.D., Moran, Kansas


‘First car’ question brings back fun memories

Enjoyed reading the bit about the first car bought by your readers. I well remember hunting for the first car I bought back around 1950-1951. Since I am old and not computer friendly, I have no idea what Facebook is, although I have heard the name. In my days we were stuck with buying a car usually built before WWII. As you may or may not know, they stopped building cars dated in 1942, and few were built in 1946. There was no such thing as a car built for civilian use in 1943, 1944, or 1945. Cars built after the war were just too expensive for any of us to buy. Only one boy in my class in school had a car built after the war, a 1947 Ford his wealthy parents bought him. For reasons I cannot remember I wanted a 1941 Ford. A friend and I drove into the city looking for that car in all the used car lots. Other kids in my school drove cars from the 1930s. Some would be very expensive collector cars in today’s world. I found a 1941 Ford Business Coupe and the used car people put in Club Coupe seats in it for me so I had backseats. Even with having my own car I could not drive it to school like kids do now. I didn’t always have gas money. I still remember a girl in my senior year telling me she didn’t know I had a car as I rode the school bus... Living in a very rural community a car was a big deal. If one didn’t have a car you could not go many places. I walked many miles just to go to the movies once in awhile. My friends’ cars. Jim drove the family 1941 Hudson Sedan. Oh, was that a car. The front seat was covered with a blanket, the fenders flapped in the wind, but was that car fast with the old straight 8 engine. I still remember when Jim and I went to the movies one night. On our way home in the old Hudson, we stopped at a traffic light and a brand new 1952 or 1953 Oldsmobile pulled up next to us. A teenage boy and his girlfriend were in the Oldsmobile and they were laughing at us, and the driver hit the gas pedal a few times to show he wanted to race us. There they were laughing at us but when the race started, the old beat up Hudson left the new Oldsmobile in the dust. When we pulled up to the next traffic light and they pulled next to us again, neither of them were laughing, they looked straight ahead. Jim hit the gas pedal several times on the Hudson, but the driver of the Oldsmobile turned left as he had had enough of the old beat up Hudson. We got a big laugh out of that. Allen had a 1939 Studebaker and drove it to school through the fields and grapes before he got his drivers license. The Studebaker had been sitting in a field and he was told if he could start the car, he could have it. Allen was called Crazy Al as he was one heck of a driver. He could do things with his car no one else in school could do. I was afraid to ride with him as he was so crazy behind the steering wheel. Orland drove the 1935 Ford that was passed down to him by the family.  But having many different cars over the years, I still remember fondly my first car, the 1941 Ford Business Coupe. Back then the design of the business coupe was a bit different than the Club Coupe with the rear seats. Thanks for bringing back some memories of my teenage years. Seems like all my old friends are gone now so it is nice thinking of them. Forgot to mention Bob Schneider and his 1941 Nash. When my wife and I cross a local set of railroad tracks with arms that come down when a train is approaching I mention Bob S. I was in the back seat as he was driving down that same road with the crossing gates one night. There were three of us and Bob S. in his car. The flashing lights came on and instead of stopping he hit the gas and we went flying across the rough tracks with my head hitting the inside roof of the car, and the crossing gates coming down hitting the top of the car as we sped through. My neck was sore for weeks. His car froze one winter and the engine block had cracked.  He would fill up his radiator and drive the five miles to my house and his car would be steaming as he lost his water through the cracked engine block. When he left we filled the radiator so he could make it back home. He later decided to junk the car and I was pushing him with my car to the junk yard when I ran out of gas. I had a hammer and nails in my car so I got under his car and poked a hole in the gas tank with my hammer and a nail, and we used a bottle to put the leaking gasoline into my gas tank and away we went. When we got to the junk yard the man said the Nash was leaking gas. Bob said “No wonder I got such poor gas mileage.”  He got his 20-25 dollars and away we went. Those were the crazy days. (Ironical thing - If I had been killed by the train hitting us. When I was 14 my best friend Wayne was killed when he tried to beat a train at a crossing while riding his Whizzer Motorbike)  — B.C., Westlake, Ohio

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