Saturday, February 21, 2009

Do You Have What It Takes to be Indiana Jones? Collectors Out On a Mission

This may come as a surprise to you, but I am convinced that those of us who will cross rivers, climb mountains and leap from railroad cars to find the objects of our desire have much in common with Harrison Ford’s character in the Indiana Jones series. Obsessed collectors are a tough breed and could fill in for Ford at a moment’s notice. Perhaps it is time for Spielberg to recognize our skills and add some of us to his short list for future adventure movies.
I have been thinking about how similar we are to Indiana Jones since Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the big screen, but have not dared to share my suspicions until now. What has propelled me to spill the beans? Yes you are is the recent release of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The confidence to talk about this subject is a result of finding myself smack in the midst of all the movie action this past summer when Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg whizzed right by me while shooting on location in New Haven, Connecticut . How lucky was I that my daughter had just moved into an apartment inches away from “the set”.
I battled the crowds to watch with amazement as Spielberg and Ford buzzed about the Elm city in one of those “director type trucks” with cameras aboard. From noon to dusk, I joined other mesmerized fans watch in excitement as vintage cars and buses raced through Chapel Street , New Haven . For me, a retro enthusiast I can’t tell you how cool it was to see all of the storefronts on Chapel converted to look like shops right out of the 1950s. My favorite was Woolworths because the display window resembled the cover of my first book, Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s. Had I known Spielberg was “doing Woolworth” I would have gladly sent him a copy of my book for reference. And if Spielberg had called me, I would have been happy to supply him with a few vintage shoe lace boxes and some moth tins for his dimestore window.
So let me return to the heart of the matter, why I am confident to say that all of us who think about tag sales 24-7 and scale tall building in search of someone else’s junk are well suited to understudy for Ford.. Like Indiana Jones, we approach “the hunt” with passion, excitement and boundless energy. When bitten by the collecting bug we dash out of the house and get lost for hours and sometimes days in our mission to find some hidden treasure that we must have. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing will get in our way. Extremes in weather, hunger pains, full bladders, flat tires, you name it …nothing will interfere with getting to a morning estate sale or charity flea market. True collectors are determined and brave warriors with tremendous zeal and resilience.
I’ll ne upfront with you, when we are called to duty we really should have someone else driving us around because we can be a dangerous lot on the road. We have super hero vision and can spot a tag sale three blocks away and will do absolutely nothing short of cutting off six cars across three lanes to get there. Once the tag sale radar has been activated we race to the finish line as if there was a fire or medical emergency. Our sixth sense for picking up clues that there are approaching flea markets, garage sales and auctions is phenomenal to witness.
But somehow this heightened sensitivity to our environment falls apart when it comes to the weather I have watched friends leave their coats, hats and gloves in their car while they stand on line in the bitter cold to be let in to a dynamite estate sale. When the pot of gold is so close, what’s a little frostbite here and there? Let’s face it, we are simply too excited to take the time to dress for the weather. Just as scary to report is what happens to relentless buyers in the summer months. How many times have you witnessed a fellow collector overcome with heat exhaustion trekking through the hay covered grounds of an outside antique show or flea market? Otherwise sane people can be seen dripping with sweat, red as a lobster making just one more purchase before they keel over.
Weather is not the only hurdle obsessed collectors need to overcome. Equally challenging is how to survive long periods of time without food and water.
How many of you, like me, run out the door in the wee hours of the morning passing up breakfast for a chance to catch a fabulous moving sale? This is where a few mints you find in your pocket .or a piece of the stale bagel you forgot to throw way the day before saves the day. And ditto what I said about breakfast when it comes to stopping for lunch. Who among us will interrupt a juicy garage sale or a tri-level multi-dealer antique store for a Turkey Panini. and a bottle of Spring water. When we are out on a chase we really are way too consumed with our prize to worry about such trivial matters as food and beverage! Did I just write that? If we should discover ourselves getting a little light headed we know to dig deep into our Fanny packs or pocketbooks to find a hard candy or piece of gum.
And I’ll point out one more curious trait I have also noticed about “hunter types”. Just like Indiana Jones, when we are out exploring aka “ junking”, we rarely need to stop for a bathroom break either. I have two theories on this finding. (1) as “ antique warriors” we eat and drink very little while out on a mission and we simply don’t produce much in the way of fluids and . (2) as devoted collectors we train ourselves to wait until dark to use the facilities because we already know from past experience not to expect to find a “real” bathroom when we are in the middle of a cow field antiquing or in a cave, or dump, or attic treasure hunting.
In conclusion, I believe I have made my point. If we can brave the cold and the heat, survive without food, water and bathroom breaks and also carry six overstuffed shopping bags all at one time we have what it takes to be Indiana Jones!

C. Dianne Zweig is the author of Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s and Hot Cottage Collectibles for Vintage Style Homes. She is also the Editor of an actively growing internet based resource community for people who buy, sell or collect antiques, collectibles and art. You can find Dianne’s fabulous retro and vintage kitchen, home and cottage collectibles at The Collinsville Antiques Company of New Hartford, CT, a 22,000 feet antique emporium with an in-house retro cafĂ©.

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Dianne is a member of:
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