There is a vast irony to my hobby – Urban Archeology. For me to succeed each weekend at each sale I must look for…nothing. You read that correctly. To find something I must look for nothing. You could say this is a hobby about nothing, or everything.
If you were to choose a date in the past, take a knife and
literally vivisect society, you would reveal a little piece of art, music,
literature, news, sports, entertainment, marketing, people, animals,
everything. Though it sounds like I have described a time capsule, you would
also get something more than that, emotion, aspiration, hope, fear, love, lust,
success, failure, etc.
I know where to look, but it has to be during a sale when the
opportunity exists. Estate sales are like doors, they open briefly and then
close, the contents are wiped away by a throng of buyers or become locked away
again forever. These places are familiar to everyone; they are usually the
oldest homes or neighborhoods in any town. In Danbury,CT some of those homes are
on Deer Hill Avenue.
This summer when I saw some of that neighborhood's residents holding a street-wide sale I knew I would have to make a stop. All were regular tag sales, set up to shed some antiques and the usual clutter that appears in just a few years of living. One sale was held in a large Victorian that had housed a museum at one time, and was now home to several musicians. I was interested just to see the interior and imagine what it might have looked like years ago.
Looking around I was drawn to the built in shelves that lined an interior alcove. They were full of books, none of which looked original to any year but that last five. In among college course books and random novels was one little wire-bound booklet that didn’t match the others, and small enough to have remained hidden. It had no label, well, no label on the outside.
Inside it was almost full of liquor labels from the 1930s.