Sep 13

Things Have Meaning: Be careful what you make fun of and don’t touch that thing!

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Things hold memories. We tie meaning to objects and get hurt when those are made fun or defensive if someone tries to take them away.

Things Have Meaning

Some things bring joy, others heartache.

Most of us have at some time or another had things like paintings, records or maybe special sweaters that caused a flood of emotion. If someone shows you things that for whatever reason cause you to want to make a smart comment or try to take the thing away, STOP! It’s not your thing and you have no idea what that may mean to the person showing it to you.

For example, I went to my basement recently because my wife had been cleaning and moving things. I know there are certain things that I like regardless of what others think. I came across an old velvet painting my brother had given me a few years ago, slightly in jest. The reality is there are some great memories attached to that thing!

A Little History

Photo of paintingBack in the early 1970’s my father met a guy named Vance Linek who was selling these velvet paintings on street corners. He was making a good margin on them, approximately 50%. For some, that would be a markup of 100% if that means more to you. Bottom line, good money for something you could do weekends on the side. Vance introduced Dad to George Keller who was bringing these things in from Mexico. 

Many of the paintings were nice scenes or portraits, and then there were the tar ships! These things were so gaudy they were beautiful. Actually, this was one of my favourites next to the Elvis that I lost track of years ago. My brother found one of the tar ships years later. I would bet that we sold it originally.

Selling those paintings was a great ride until there was too much competition. There were a bunch of brothers who moved into town selling the same paintings. Those guys were nuts! They would drive through their brother’s display! Dad decided if we were going out of business, we were taking them with us. He went to George and bought all his damaged stock for $5 each and fixed most of them to sell for 10 bucks. In the end, those guys thought we were nuts!

Memories Attached to Things

Not So Happy Times

Photo of chairI don’t like to dwell on negatives but I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that sometimes things hold sad memories. For example, my son passed away and one of the things he left behind is his comfy chair. My wife sits in it all the time.

As much as the chair has sad memories of him sitting in it as he fought cancer, I believe it gives Denise some peace. No matter how beat up that chair gets, there is no way it will ever leave this house. I wouldn’t dream of getting rid of that chair. 

As much as there is great sadness attached to that thing, there is great peace in being able to sit with him in spirit. That chair symbolizes the fact that he is never gone. That’s why that chair is here to stay.

Happy Times

The reason there were so many great memories attached to that painting I found is that when I was young, we were a lower middle class family struggling to make the bills and put food on the table. Don’t get me wrong, we never lacked for anything important. We had a great life camping and so on but the thought of something like a new vehicle or luxury items was not much more than a dream. Then Dad found the paintings.

photo of vanIn the following years, we travelled most of Ontario, earning as we went selling those things.

Dad bought his first brand new vehicle. A 1977 GMC Vandura 25. No, the photo isn’t of Dad’s van, I couldn’t find one that was in electronic format so I borrowed one. The van was big enough to travel with Mom, Dad and four kids, even with a small load of paintings on board. Add to that a house trailer from Sicard in Hamilton. We put an above ground pool in the back yard which necessitated a good fence. All of those extras were paid for by paintings like the tar ships. We did a lot of work together as a family but it never seemed like it.

Don’t Touch That Thing!

My wife and I had a little social media fun with the velvet tar ships. As attached as I am to that painting, I recognize the oddity of it and enjoyed the “fight” with my wife over keeping this thing. We are pretty active on social media and our followers enjoy our banter. What I didn’t realize is my younger brother and his wife were NOT enjoying the slights people were making of my painting. For that I apologize.

In the end, I may give my brother the painting if he truly wants it. It will be with conflicted feelings. I love that painting for all the reasons above but don’t really have a good place to hang it where it would get the respect it deserves. Although, my wife is warming up to it hanging over my desk!

That thing holds a lot of great memories!

Next time someone shows you things that make no sense to hang onto, think twice before you open your mouth. The value of things isn’t always financial and may not be measurable. Be respectful and find a compromise everyone can live with.

By the way, would you believe there is a velvet painting museum?! Check out Velveteeria in Los Angeles, California.

Make it a great day!

Barry

P.S. What am I thankful for today? I’m thankful for Mexican velvet paintings. I’m thankful I had great parents. I’m thankful for all of my family.

 

 

 

 

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