Robert Morrissey is a good friend who is a dealer in St. Louis and has a penchant for understanding the history behind period decoration just as I do. He sent me a book that arrived yesterday called, “Richer Than Spices”, by Gertrude Z. Thomas, a book about how the exploration and trade with the Far East changed the decorative arts throughout the world. I could tell I was going to like the book the moment I started reading the prologue where Ms. Thomas explains that every object that we live with has a history and is a part of history, something that is very evident with antiques, but the treatise is true universally whether you own contemporary, Arts and Crafts, Nouveau or Deco or anything else.
In 1931, my grandfather needed a new car and my father remembers waiting for him and the new car in great anticipation. Instead of a Packard or a Buick, he rolled up in a Model A pickup truck. His heart, and those of his two brothers, sank. No wooing of dates with a fancy car. However, by 1954, Dad was a family man with a house and yard to look after and he also had to get to the train station every day. His father gave him the pickup and it became his station car and the car he used to drive to the dump on Saturdays to get rid of clippings, etc. I well remember him sticking his head into the kitchen asking, “does anyone want to take a trip to the dump”. I always went.
Last fall, my brother, David, had a party and as his property is large enough for running around in the pickup, he got it out of the garage and asked if I would give rides to anyone who wanted. The moment I sat in the front seat, floods of memories came back to me. I remember Dad taking the truck to Cooperstown with me and my oldest brother, Harry, and coasting down the long rolling hills of Route 20. I certainly remember going to the dump and the nonsense songs Dad sang en route. But, even more remarkable was the moment my niece’s husband sat in the car with his son, Edison, and his father, Ted, saying to his son, this is the car your great, great grandfather bought in 1931. Objects do have power.
You can find Robert at www.clarkgraves.com and the book can be found athttp://www.abebooks.com/servlet/SearchResults?an=gertrude+z.+thomas&sts=t&tn=Richer+than+Spices