Tabatha Deans

Bringing Integrity to the Written Word

TALES FROM A THRIFT STORE
I had run next door for lunch and returned to find a small grocery bag in the donation bin. I took the bag inside and excitedly began sorting through it, wondering what kind of treasure might be hidden inside.
Scarves and handkerchiefs of fine silk covered the top layer of items, obviously old and obviously well taken care of. They were clean and pressed, and I could imagine the lady who owned them sipping her coffee as she pressed her scarves. Beneath the layer of scarves I ran into several layers of ladies gloves. One pair of leather winter gloves, but all of the others were thin. Some were satin, some were silk, some were cotton, and all of them were elbow length, with tiny white pearls of snaps at the top.
They were the kind of gloves that were popular in the early part of the century, and apparently this lady had a pair to match every outfit. I couldn’t resist slipping on a cream-colored satin pair, wondering what it would have been like to live in a day when women didn’t leave the house without full make-up and styled hair. A time when buying a new suit or fine hat was a major, important purchase. A time when chivalry thrived and the rules between men and women were clearly defined.
I pictured the mysterious lady decked out in her finest dress, hands clad in the satin gloves, nervously smoothing her skirt as she awaited her gentleman caller. Perhaps he was a military man, who would show up on her doorstep wearing his dress blues, to whisk her away for an evening of dining and dancing. Would she grant him a small kiss on the cheek at the end of the night? Or would she play coy and blush and push him away, then rush inside and call her girlfriends to gush about her date? Would she end up marrying him? Ah, the dreams of a simpler, more romantic time.
I pulled myself out of the fantasy and dug further in the bag. My hands (still wearing the gloves) touched upon something hard, and I gingerly pulled out a small wooden box, about one inch by one inch in diameter. It was made of a dark wood, and was obviously old, as the intricate carvings had been worn smooth in spots from being handled often. I unhinged the small gold clasp holding the box closed, and it opened to reveal a photograph. A photograph of a child, looking to be about eight-months-old. I think it was from around the 1940’s, when photographs were no longer black and white, but were done in terrible color. Red spots dotted the child’s cherubic cheeks, and he wore a blue jacket over a white jumper. He looked happy, and judging by the worn frame, he had been loved. Someone had looked at this picture often.
Perhaps it was my glove lady. Perhaps this was her child. Maybe the child had died, as many did back then, or maybe she had the child out of wedlock, with her gentleman caller, and the child had been whisked away as a source of embarassment. That was probably it. My fine glove lady could have been a harlot, or a woman in love who made a mistake, and the only reminder of her beloved child was this photograph. I pictured her hiding the picture in the back of her drawer, safely tucked in with her scarves and gloves, taking it out and looking at it secretly.
Yes, that was it. My secret lady had been a scarlet lady.
The fantasy occupied my mind and entertained me for most of the day, but then it made me sad. Sad that her most prized possession would end up here, donated to a thrift store. Discarded like an old shoe.

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October 11, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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