She was a southern belle, old Becky.
In today’s world that reference might be offensive, but in her time that would have been the highest compliment – to her at least and that’s what matters.
While visiting a buddy who relocated to North Carolina after high school, he announced the need to run an errand for an elderly neighbour. Always up for whatever is happening, we tagged along.
After a brief introduction we were invited in for some iced tea – with the first pressing question being “would you like that sweetened or unsweetened?”
A bit puzzled we looked over at our buddy for some direction, never having experienced this phenomenon of deep south homemade iced tea.
“Better go sweetened, Becky,” he said.
She emerged from the back kitchen a while later, with high-ball glasses full of ice and a pitcher of iced-tea brew resting on a platter. One sip and we were relieved to not have tempted fate with the unsweetened version. A quick stop by was turning into a visit complete with cookies on the side.
As old Becky held court, pleasantries and conversation ensued. Southern charm flowed like that glass of iced tea that never seemed to end, getting topped off in between topics of the day. That was after all the Clinton years, so there was plenty to talk about.
Her house was quite old and while tidy and neat as a pin, the décor and furniture had some age to it – hundreds of years we would later learn. A dresser or cupboard affair stood tall along the one wall, and we must have looked at the obvious hole in it long enough that Becky asked if we might like the story behind it.
Once again, the pitcher of iced tea was tipped, this time the last of its contents, and we settled into some family history and how that battered drawer came to be.
It was a family heirloom from the War of Independence and in fact, that hole was made by a shot from a musket during a local skirmish in that timeframe.
In a fine southern drawl with the enunciation and enthusiasm of a top-notch storyteller, we learned a little about her family and their history.
No one was injured in the melee, but the furniture bore witness to the war in the late 1770s. She was proud and we were happy to hear about it, adding credence to the notion that everyone and their trappings has a story.
Becky has long since passed. The fate of that piece of history is unknown, but hopefully its significance was well known to her kin and safeguarded to be shared with future generations. One could argue it was priceless.
While thinking of that fateful summer day long ago, one of the many auction sites we interact with, dumped another sale into our inbox. It was yet another fresh offering of “stuff” we don’t necessarily need.
This time it was an estate sale with some higher-end furniture. As seems to happen with dining rooms and heavier items, the prices reflected a common experience in recent times – pennies on the dollar. Quality goods featuring hand craftsmanship and real wood net little in the way of bids.
We get that and understand trends and styles. We also understand the proclivity for some to hoard and not throw away clearly “best past their use” items.
Somewhere however, a happy medium exists between fashion and economics. Ongoing efforts to create a circular economy remain incredibly necessary if we are to escape this era of consumerism and consumption at any cost.
Think a bit before you pitch.
Someone like Becky might have a compelling story to tell.