Friday, June 17, 2005

Antique Thoughts

This dealing with what folks consider to be antiques can be sobering. I didn’t really think about this until I received an email today from a retired military chaplain in Texas. He wrote that he has some Wedgwood China that’s considered “antique” that isn’t that much older than he or me. He also has some memorabilia that, I think, he purchased in Japan that may be younger than he or me. That memorabilia is considered “antique” by some folks.

What is sobering to me about this is that I am older than most of the “antiques” I am listing for sale on eBay. Am I really so old as to be an “antique?” Perhaps, since my sons last birthday, now that I am the father of two men over the age of thirty, I am an antique?

L to R: #1 son Nick III, Me, #2 Son Rob II

I wonder if it is only we Americans who consider things to be antique when they are only thirty or so years old? Could our materialism and living in what I remember one write called “the plastic culture”—everything is disposable, including people—lead to our so easily considering “things” antique.

I remember a story I once read about a newly wealthy woman who visited France in the 1920s. While walking through the immense gardens and lawns—which I understand was the first intentionally created lawn—of the Palace of Versailles, she encountered the chief gardener.

After complimenting him on the beauty of the gardens and the well-manicured lawns, she told him about her newly purchased estate back in the U.S. Then she asked him, “What advice can you give me that I can share with my gardener so that I can have lawns as beautiful as these?”

The Versailles gardener thought a moment and then replied, “Tell your gardener that to have lawns like these, he must have begun them two hundred years ago.”

Anything created two hundred years ago is, to me, an antique. But I cannot understand how something created twenty to fifty-nine (me!) years ago can be considered an antique.

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