Thursday, July 30, 2009

Curious Item #1 -- The Washboard

There's a junk store off the Jefferson stop on the L train that I like to go when I'm unemployed (which is to say, I go there more often than I'd normally care to admit). It's the area that real estate brokers call "Artsy East Willamsburg" and the area that people who live in actual East Williamsburg call "the asshole of everywhere." On the plus side, it's got plenty of old abandoned factories/EPA cleanup sites, if that's your thing.

But back to the store. It's a great time-wasting/money-saving activity. A normal outing might leave you with a really old 3 wood and a generic oil painting of some sort of European seaside villa in hand, with your wallet only 11 dollars lighter -- at worst. It's like you're beating the system!

I spent a solid 15 minutes there one time wondering whether I should buy a stack of someone's family vacation slides from a nondescript beach trip that occurred sometime in the early '60s (Answer: I should have bought them). My two favorite purchases are a square White Castle coffee mug, which unironically implores one to "Buy 'em by the 'Sack'" and a Miller High Life pilsner glass.

And this leads me into the reason for this post: the antique washboard pictured here. I'm not entirely sure when I bought it. Something about it captured my eye. I'm sure it seemed incredibly out of place to me among the old end tables, broken reel to reel projectors, and the like. But here's my Curious Question: Why the hell did I buy it?

I had a gut feeling that it was worth more than what they would charge me, which was about $12. But if people know one thing about me, they know I'm upfront about my complete lack of knowledge about antiques ("Greg just never shuts up about not knowing anything about antiques. ... It's getting a little out of hand.").

I brought it home, excited about my purchase. I wasn't in the mood to hang it (probably what I'd intended on doing), but I did tell some of my friends. "Dude, I bought an antique washboard today." "Awesome. Like a metal one you can play?" "...Uhh, no. It's glass."

The fact that it could have had a practical application (but didn't) completely escaped me. If I had been able to play it, I certainly would have played hell out of it. Odds are that at any given point in time, I'm tapping on something to make some kind of rhythm (It's just the mediocre drummer in me).

Later, the Internet told me that Big Washboards started using glass during WW II due to a shortage of metal. After the war, the industry went back to glass. That's right. I have the only era of washboard NOT usable as an instrument. I also learned that it was manufactured in either Chicago, Memphis, or Cleveland, but I think reading the thing itself could tell you that.

Weeks, months went by (perhaps years). The washboard sat in the corner of my room, where it sits now. I shuffled it around while I threw out many other useful things. Camping chair? "When am I ever going to want to sit down where there isn't already a chair? Out it goes. The washboard stays."

I considered giving it to my sister, whose rustic Texas gameroom is a living case study of rustic tetanus (wall hangings include a rusty bow saw, a sculpture of a cow skull made out of rusty barbed wire, and a rusty hand drill). Have at it, kids! (I love you, Brooke!* (*Brooke is not her actual name)).

Based on some quick eBay searching, I figure I could get upwards of $40 for my $12 investment. But I'm sick of this thing. I'll cut anyone a deal and sell it at cost OBO. I have no idea why I bought this piece of crap. Please get it out of my room. I thank you in advance.

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