In 1985 my then husband accepted a counseling position in a town outside of Rochester, New York, that I fondly dubbed "Nowhere" New York. We rented an upstairs flat of an old Victorian home at the corner of a street in town. I did not work, preferring poverty to spending time with my little girls and we spent the days together playing in the parks, exploring the wooded areas around the big house and catching minnows in the stream out back and then letting them go.
The landlord had neatly cut up and piled branches in the backyard for kindling, so I got a jack knife and taught myself how to whittle little people out of the sticks. I also combed nearby antique shops and thrift stores for furniture and other interesting vintage pieces, which I upcycled and stenciled with my own hand cut stencils, selling some pieces to friends and neighbors and consigning others to nearby country decor shops.
I frequently visited the aunt of a friend who lived outside of Palmyra, New York and who owned dilapidated property next to her house that she had inherited from a spinster relative. The place had originally been a gas station with a little motor court in back where tiny cabins sat, overnight sleepers for those traveling the roads in the 1930s and 40s.
My friend and I spent many hours picking through the ruins of the property, searching for unique treasures, such as this adorable tin drum I found in a corner of the oil station garage. It was made in the USA in the 1920s or 30s and was meant for a Fourth of July celebration, I'm sure. I was never able to find the little drum sticks that went with it, but my children spent many happy hours playing upon it with utensils, sticks or little hands.
Eventually, I sold it on etsy, but whenever I see this picture, I find myself reminiscing about a time when I was able to create freely and was blessed with many small treasures.
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