Wednesday, May 23, 2018
One of America's Great Newspapers ~ Toledo, Ohio

Mary Alice Powell

Old treasures getting a new life

Duck! Here come the leaves. So far they are not a gift of nature's beauty but a reminder that within weeks it will be time to get out the rake and gather them into piles to bag or burn.

If you live in an area where burning leaves is permitted, you can stand around the fire and roast marshmallows and talk about the good times of summer, or plans for the coming winter. Roasting marshmallows need not be just for children; it can be an adult thing, too. I treasure the five marshmallow roasting forks that are special keepsakes. They were used in fall leaf-burning ceremonies along the curb on Maple Avenue in Adrian during my growing-up years long ago.

When, during the basement cleanup, someone asked, "do you want these?" it almost made me mad to think anyone would consider discarding them. The marshmallow forks are the kind of treasures you hang on to thinking they must be valuable, but the truth is you wouldn't part with them for any amount of money.

Similar possessive feelings apply to an old safe and to two wooden bowls. All three were in the July garage sale. When a customer picked up the very old wooden bowls that had been molding and cracking in the damp basement and remarked on their unusual shape and how nice they would look with fall gourds, I quickly changed my mind about selling them. Need I admit that the one misshapen bowl with an arrangement of fall gourds is now on the hearth?

I've decided that the old safe is a keeper, too. It weighs at least 200 pounds and was always in the way. A good friend sold it to me for $60. I got tired of pushing it over and around the cracks in the garage floor, so I put it in the garage sale with a $60 price tag. One man mentioned that his son collects safes and might be willing to pay $20 for it. But the customer who sparked my interest was the young woman who said how nice it would look finished and used as an end table.

The safe is at the Hudson Collision shop getting a $150 facelift. I figured they should know how to sand down the safe to the original steel surface and refinish it with automobile paint. The color will be a dark shade of green similar to what I believe safes used to be. Plans also call for "Dr. Mary Alice Powell" (remember the Adrian College honorary doctorate degree in 2002?) to be silk-screened in gold leaf on the front, if I can find someone to do it here in the wilderness where I live. The painter has to come to the safe. It's not like a chair you can easily take to a fix-it shop.

And, why did I decide to put myself through this ordeal? The safe will be a classy replacement for the $55-a-year safe deposit box in the bank. I haven't seen my treasures in the box for years because it is such a hassle to go to the bank (if I haven't lost the keys), take the box into the little secret room, open the box, and go through the contents.

Now, thanks to the old safe, important papers will be handy, once I figure out the complicated combination. I doubt anyone will steal the heavy safe, unless they have a forklift.

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