Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Story of a Pick - Part One

My friend, Lynette, and I recently had the opportunity to go picking through a business that was no more.
Good thing it says "No Soliciting" and not "No Picking".
Take heed. This post is for those who like "a little" back story. 
It's also for my own memory's sake. 

The business had obviously been defunct for some time (looked like maybe a few decades) and then sadly, the owner died. The family had already come and taken what they wanted and everything was slated to be trashed by a clean up company called in by the listing agent. 

Our first indication as to the era of the style blanketing the office should have been the mauve and dirty white vertical blinds that graced the plate glass windows (above), but we marched right past them with an eager eye to the contents within - although a quick assessment upon entering gave little indication that we would be successful, other than to let us know that this space was not much more than a trash heap with an unfortunate and unpleasant odor. 

You could call it "pe-ewww, da toilet!" 

We beat out the trash truck, having been allowed the opportunity to come and take what we would of any remnants left behind. Lynette thought she had seen a couple items that we might like to have, a chair, a small table, just a few things we could salvage and then we'd be on our way.

It was dark and airless inside since there was no power, and it looked like it had been ransacked. We had only a little flashlight with the light on the side of it that Lynette is smart enough to keep in her purse, but it kept flickering and was driving us mad (driving me mad, because I kept accidentally pointing it in my own eyes).

We started our search by lifting up papers on the reception desk, despite the fact that there were mainly ordinary items there. It seemed a waste to let anything useable go to the dump, and there's always the thought that something intriguing might be lying just underneath something else. I saw tape (hey, I can use that) phones, extension cords, phone cords, lamps, office junk, file folders, and random little cool things that I figured we might as well take.

Chain, nails, staples, paint brushes, bottles, fuses, light switch. You name it, even the caddy. I'm nothing if not practical (and yes, cheap).

Lumbering electronics from another century along with cords, broken items and all manner of quasi medical/office stuff blocked our path and left us standing and staring trying to make out what some of it was ever used for.

Thankfully the camera flash illuminated the dark, windowless rooms for us, but what it showed was a lot of ugly junk, not the exciting kind of vintage goodies you might want to pick through. This wasn't eye candy, but we weren't finished yet either.

We had to make several passes through each room to assess the possibilities or lack thereof. Despite the seeming trash of it, we managed to eek out quite a bit of treasure. The treadmill was manual, but it worked. However, neither of us were inclined to deal with its bulk.

This bench came home with us and has already been remade into a new version of itself 
which I'll show you soon.

This room was pitch black, so I never even realized that it was one of the least offensive of all, until now that I see this picture. Good thing Lynette had her point and shoot on her. I ran off in a hurry and forgot to bring my camera. Lotta help I was.

Lesson 1: 

Be prepared. Carry your camera, a flashlight and hand wipes - always. 

The mauve, gray and pink made it hard to focus on the bones of the furniture. The jumbled presentation and the lack of light made every new room we entered look like it needed a bulldozer more than it needed us. Still we dug and began to see the keepers beneath the trash. Our quick pick became a full-fledged junk-ravaging good time. We started making exciting discoveries.

The office was an I shaped, long, dark hall with little dark windowless rooms off of it, I think there were four on each side. Here's the view looking down the hall after we had started rolling things toward the door. You can see a few of our finds here, sort of. Let me just say that context is everything. Some of these same items staged differently are pretty cool and they light up with personality and potential.

Presented in the mix of the 80's vibe and the garbage, not so much.

 Anything good was covered with crapola, but in the end, most of the good stuff made it home with us.

Get a load of this room. This is where permanent makeup was applied. I picked through this in the dark and took things that Lynette thought I was a loon for wanting. Some of the stuff I picked up may have been a bit questionable. However, when I got home and saw what I had taken (I had no idea what it was when I found it) we had to go back to see if we could find any more. I'll show you some of that in Part Two.

See how our pile grew. We ended up taking two trips in Lynette's SUV to haul the stuff out of there to her storage area. My car was packed as well. Then we came back another day and got another load of stuff. The boxes were full of all the miscellany that mostly went home with me :(. Some of it was the stuff Lynette thought I was cuckoo for taking. I'll show you later and you can be the judge.

 Yeah, it looks like a lot of garbage, but there's potential there.

Lesson 2: "Potential" can be terribly exhausting. 

Whatever you pick you have to deal with. We have been doing quite a bit of dealing thanks to the items we picked. Know the limits of your ability to deal with "potential". Then again, you may need to balance this with my advice in Lesson 4 below.

See these roasters on the floor half hidden. They look harmless enough, right? Well, we're not so sure. Unfortunately we did not get a shot of the contents for you or for our own satisfaction. They were full of rolled ace bandages and not pristine ace bandages, but ace bandages that had melded together with time and heat and humidity as well as with a sort of powdery soot caked upon, and in and through them - through and through! We had to hack them out of the enamel roaster pans because they were calcified or petrified or something, and a sort of powdery substance floufed into the air as we did so. But, hey, we decided those roasters could be good for something.

Well, it turns out, I do need one of those tops for a piece of furniture I'm remaking into something new. More hoarder's vindication.

We can't be sure, but there are lingering suspicions that the contents of these roasters may have been the cause of our puking and stomach sickness that followed later that week. They will be sanitized before future use.

Lesson 3: Use your picking smarts when you go junking. 

We tried to hold our breath as we pried and chiseled and flung those bandage rolls out of there. A mask and some gloves would have been wise, or perhaps the sense to know when to say "no more".

You do have to wonder about us, no?

We did score a few books and some frightening pictures of the permanent make up clients before and after as well as the funeral book for a local man whose family owns a restaurant nearby. We have to wonder why it was in her office. Perhaps they were somehow related or something.

It was hard to stay focused because there was a lot of ground to cover and Lynette would excitedly yell from the other end of the long hall about things she'd found, (sounding like she might be buried up to her earrings in unknown and assorted treasure) and I would go running to see. Then we'd get distracted and go to another room and start pulling things out that we just had to have despite the rather iffy sensibility of it. 

"We can use this for something, can't we?" 

"Oh, cool! This is good, right?"

"We need this, don't we?"

And so it went.

The picking turned to ransacking.
As if we needed all this stuff. Actually, now that I see some of these photos for the first time, I see some things we really should have taken that we didn't. Dang!

That just proves we showed some restraint. However, now the restraint is turning to regret.

Lesson 4:

Have fun and remember you can always throw things out later if you don't want them. 

This is a lesson I still need to fully incorporate. I'm doing better, but I still regret the stuff that I let get away.

I do believe I already showed you some of the piles of stuff that came home to my house from that pick, but the stuff we took to Lynette's hoarding spot for safe keeping has yet to be unveiled. 

That, along with the bench makeover will be coming up in Part Two of The Story of a Pick.

Stay tuned.

Stop over and visit these sweet link parties this week:

mop it up mondays

Funky Junk's Saturday Nite Special
Furniture Feature FridaysFrench Country CottagePhotobucket 
   Ivy and Elephants


  1. You're right... I do have to stop and wonder...
    wonder if my family thinks I'm crazy? wondering if they would call an intervention and ban me from ever playing with you (if we were to ever get to hang out and go junking, EVER)
    I have these sudden urges, you know, to reach out and grab some little metal something and put it in my car to take home...while standing next to a trailer of 'what is being called-trash'--my hubby and his brother standing there discussing how , next week..."I've got to haul this trailer to the dump" blah, blah, blah...And I know my hubby would be mortified if I acted on those impulses. My brother in law would be baffled; and no doubt blab to the rest of the family how I ransacked his garbage...
    Yes... I wonder about things like this all the time.
    I wonder...if I lived in or around where you lived...if you'd let me come along and pick with you...
    Or if you'd be my competitor.


  2. My family always thinks I'm crazy until they see the completed transformation! I can't wait to see what all you do with these "treasures"!

  3. What fun! I hope you took that frenchy pink chair. I see all kinds of great stuff! Next time take the HAZMAT suits and masks.
    I can't wait to see the rest of your loot and what you do with it!

  4. Liz, I gotta say I'm a lil' envious. Hopefully someday I'll get the chance to do something that fun. I must say though, as much as I enjoy reading your writing, the BEST line was "pe-ewww, da toilet!" . That just made me giggle. You're too much my dear friend. I LOVE your sense of humor : )
    ~ Deanna

  5. I agree that someone needs to eventually say "enough". Unfortunately, I haven't found that person, yet. And why don't we ever learn to take gloves and masks? oy!

  6. Oh Wow! Can't wait to see the rest! Post soon please :)

  7. Wow, that looks like quite a day you had. But, productive, i can see the potential "finds" already. Can't wait to see what you've done with your new things. Thanks for sharing, liz

  8. wowsa!!! I am sure you got some awesome stuff!!! Looks like fun times.

    The Joyful Thrifter

  9. I will stop reading to comment before heading over to Part Two. I am wondering what kind of business this was. Those enamelware pans - weren't they used for paraffin wraps? Love the chairs and I think I saw a rolling chair or table in the piles. I keep gloves, masks, and flashlights in my truck for potential pickings.

  10. What an adventure Liz. Yes, sometimes you have to pick through a lot of junk to find a few treasures. I think the roasters would make great outdoor planters too! Great bones on those chairs. Before the Star Mill Antiques store closed he pulled out boxes of 'junk' for people to go through. My one friend got grossed out and said, "How do you know what to look for?" I told her, "You don't, that's the fun of it. Because you never know what you might find. But when you find something good you'll know it. She just didn't get it. She hated it and couldn't understand why I love the hunt. Thanks for sharing with SYC. Looking forward to seeing more.

  11. My family thought I was nuts to stop and go through a moving-out neighbor's trash a couple weeks ago. Got a couple good things, though. You never know...


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