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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Pickers of Yesteryear: Enemies Part 1

Not all is rosy in the world of pickers. I remember seeing two women at my local Goodwill: each had hold of one end of a vintage child's rocker. They stood and stared at each other for several LONG minutes, hissing insulting comments. Finally, one let go.

So too back in Bloomington, Indiana, in the 70s and 80s. Unlike Karen and Sioux, remembered in my last post, I did not have a car and my effort was limited to the two thrift stores within walking distance. Also, unlike them, I did not have another job. Mr FS was living on his grad student teaching stipend of $300/month and, though he was willing to share with me, it was really not enough.

Off I went to hone my newfound talent (see tale of my 25 cent jacket which turned to $12 before my amazed eyes). It hardly required any investment and I started making money right away.

Two people, who no doubt have long forgotten me, were very hostile. There is enough for everyone at thrift stores, but treasures like beaded cashmere sweaters and the like are not available in abundance. So my entry into the market was, I soon realized, not welcomed by those who were already doing it.

One of the people who disliked me was PM, an older woman (if the person by her name is the one I knew, she is now 87 years old). We all thought she was crazy. Several of the women who ran the Eye of Osiris were writers and we often plotted out a mystery novel based in the vintage biz with PM either as victim or as murderer. PM was--by gossip--the ex-wife of a professor. She had had a gig as secretary in an academic department and had lost her job when she tattled on a faculty member for some misdeed.  (It's hard enough now to go against the patriarchy. Imagine then!)

PM was desperately poor or so she said. She had obviously really come down in the world and lost her status--and how to get it back in Bloomington when everyone has a PhD and is competing for the same low-end jobs? Especially then. Some said she had a son from whom she was not in frequent contact. She had a close relationship with her daughter MM. In fact, the two together reminded me of Miss Havisham and Estella from Great Expectations.

Eventually, PM got a job in a museum or agency. She had some security again, so she quit her picking activities. Even though she was quite hateful, I do hope she found some happiness. (Pic below from UK Telegraph)

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