August 30, 2010

Runnin' the Junk Circuit and other Cultural Experiences

Hubby has worked far too much for many years, and since I left my "real" job in the theme park industry to follow my dream of residential interior design, we have spent his one day off every other week doing what I affectionately refer to as "running the junk circuit." By this I mean that we hit the rural road and spend the bulk of the day looking for any and every junk store, flea market, and yard sale we happen to run across. We have now experienced some of the more INTERESTING areas of North Georgia and I thought I'd share a little bit of these adventures with you. Some things are humorous, some are perhaps nostalgic or provocative, and others maybe a little shocking; I know I've been shocked at times.

I LOVE perusing the offerings of antique stores that are in old buildings of any kind- manufacturing facilities, farm or other houses, barns, etc. I seldom buy anything in these places because the pricing is retail; but I love to shop them for display ideas and unique finds. Every once in awhile we find a dealer going out of business and we get good deals on things. For some reason when I am in an antique shop, I tend to lower my voice as though I'm in a library. I don't really know WHY I do that, but I notice I am not the only person who does. It seems we are a little timid to disturb the antiques or disrupt the ambient music that is usually Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, or earlier. One of the first intriguing things I saw on our Junk Circuit adventures was in a quaint little shop called Velvet's Vintage. Velvet's Vintage is an antiques & vintage retail store in an old farm house.As we walk through Velvet's Vintage on this particular day, I round the corner into what was once a bedroom, and peer into a corner which is dominated mostly by dainty vintage and antique linens like table runners, dresser scarves, doilies, and that sort of thing; a little shabby chic thang goin' on. My eye wanders to an antique door (love me some antique doors!) that is being used as the backdrop to some repurposed shelving. Strings of pearls, lace, and a lovely old picture of a happy bride in virginal white sit quiet and unassuming on one of the shelves. I then notice the bright red record jacket...

... which I promptly turned over to see what songs were on it. Does it say something about me that I noticed the door BEHIND the objects before I noticed the BRIGHT RED record jacket that was at exactly my eye level and front & center in my view?? I wondered to myself, "How OLD is this record? Looks like it's from the 50s or 60s (it's from 1966). People haven't changed much, I guess" and "This is kinda cool and I'd like to hear the songs. I wonder if they're on iTunes." The artwork on the back made me chuckle- look at the guy with his head turned to look over his shoulder. Yeah... people haven't changed much.

Velvet's offerings included some warnings for bad behavior:

some welcoming messages that still seem to have the uncanny ability to include some subtle (and not so subtle) warnings:

and a well-placed good-to-know general information sign:

As I mentioned, one of the things I like to look for is interesting ways to display things, ideas for how to put things together in unique ways, and so on. I loved the way this estate sale shop owner displayed teacups:

This display also reminded me how much I LOVE Johnson Bros china in all the lovely brown colorways they offered over the years. Do I have any? Nope.

We stopped at a little roadside store that looked interesting because it had a lot of old signs on the front. There were more inside. Some of these made me happy just looking at them:

How CUTE and happy is that sign? I mean, KICKAPOO JOY JUICE?! Now that is HAPPY and I'd love to have this in our rec room. Ok, it has the word dogpatch on it, but even so...

This one reminds me of a picture of my grandparents, James and Ann Murray, taken in the 30s I think, just before they married. They were standing in front of a similar Dr. Pepper sign that read "Good for Life," but it was much larger than this one, and the picture is just so perfect because they really WERE Good For Life. I wish I had a scan of that picture.

I nearly fell over when I saw this SLOW SCHOOL ZONE sign AND the one EN ESPANOL:

The surprise to me was that this store managed to procure both the English AND the Spanish versions of these old Coca-Cola signs. I think they're kinda cool.

Anyone remember S&H Green Stamp books? I remember being at my Grandma Lawson's house and licking & sticking those stamps into her little book, which she traded for items like glassware and such. 

Check out this Benjamine Moore sign. 

On one a couple of our trips we've gone to Sautee, where there is an awesome little store called the Sautee General Store. Built in the 1872, it was a true general store, the local post office, etc. It is SOOO cool and if you ever have an opportunity to stop in, you should. Here's the Hubby and Tweedle on the front porch:

Inside you find the shelves stocked much as they would have been back in the day. Most of the items on the shelves and display pieces are antiques, and some are a little... well, weird...

(antique dolls freak me out. and so do clowns)

The last picture is exactly what you think it is. A coffin. Not just any coffin, though, a child-size coffin. And yes it is authentic (unused of course, but antique). This thing drew me to it in a totally literally morbidly curious kind of way and once I got over to it in its dark little corner, I noticed the lid was ajar. I stood for a second and wondered if I should look in. Of COURSE there wouldn't be a corpse in it, but my heart still pounded like crazy and I peered inside. I nearly had a stroke when I saw straw. It looked like hair in my crazed state of mind (I do NOT like scary stuff- I'll write about that around Halloween time) and I jumped and promptly left that area of the store and went to the newer section where they sell local jams, jellies, cheeses, and Life Is Good merchandise. LOL!! 

I've mentioned how much I love Runnin' the Junk Circuit because of the display (non-coffin displays, that is) and repurposing ideas that are spurred, the time the Hubby and I spend together, either alone or with granddaughter Kyli (a.k.a The Tweedle), but I also enjoy it because we see some beautiful scenery and homes. The following pictures are from a home here in Buford which is currently on short sale (isn't that sad). We stopped at their final yard sale  prior to their moving out and the house was open for touring (main level only- there are 4 levels). I was absolutely blown away by the details in this historic home. No detail was left unattended and in this case, attended to with perfection. Updated for modern living, but done correctly and with historically accurate and jaw-dropping gorgeousness.

Top left pic is of the kitchen doors that lead to a side porch. Top right pic is inside the kitchen. Leaded, beveled glass was everywhere in built-ins, cabinet doors, entry doors. 

Next  two pics are also in the kitchen.


Below left is the butler's pantry. and pic on the right is a study. There are 5 of the beautiful arched windows. The study had tables set with sale items on them and it was fairly dark in the house. 


The next pic is the dining room ceiling. My mouth was open just about the whole time I was in this house- the woodwork is incredible!


Oops. Back to the kitchen again:


kitchen ceiling detail

I'd love to decorate that place for Christmas, and I'm SO glad we stopped for the yard sale!! That one spurred some daydreaming, all right. I suppose that's enough house-lusting for today, so we're back on the trail again, searching for bargains, bargains, bargains! 

We drove to Murphy, NC, and if you've never been there, I have to say it's worth the drive from GA, if for nothing else, to experience the FLEA MARKET there! This is the kind of flea market that is hard to find nowadays but existed when I was a kid, and it was HUUUUUUUUUGE!! We spent 5 hours there and while there were some wildly interesting people and things to see (pix to come on that), there were also some very nice people with whom I really enjoyed talking. 

It was cloudy and a bit misty out, so there were no crowds to speak of. The building/shelter we went through first was like this:

There's the hubby, drinking his coffee and checking out Ms. Daisy's Jams, Jellies, & Honey, as indicated on her right fancy store-bought sign. (I tend to regress into my East Tennessee vernacular when I'm in places like this). Ms. Daisy also had homemade chow-chow that was delicious and she'd just made it the previous day. I wonder if the health inspectors ever make it around to these kind of places... I'm guessing Larry the Health Inspector probably does. I wanted to get some chow-chow but we decided we'd come back later (and never made it back). Next time I'm not leaving without the chow-chow.

A couple hours later and we were on the other side of the street taking in more sights:

Folks, I HAVE to ask... WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THE DEAL WITH BOILED PEANUTS???!! Someday I'm going to taste them just to see why there are roadside stands all over the southern countryside for this little culinary tidbit. It just SOUNDS so unappealing. But I digress (only slightly, tho)...

It wasn't long before our witty banter about banjos being played and that sort of thing came to a screeching halt. For up the hill was a sight I don't believe I've actually seen in real life. A teenager playing the banjo (on purpose, and enjoying it):

I literally laughed out loud when I saw this, and then I INSTANTLY felt bad about it. Plus I was a little afraid his wife-beater-show-off-these-guns-wearing dad (or granddad?) was about to pummel me for making fun of his offspring, which I was not, but I could certainly see how he might think that since I took a picture while laughing. What he didn't know, and I didn't explain as he walked over to me with an inquisitive and not very amused look on his face, is that just a LITTLE MINUTE before we saw (and heard) them, the Hubby had been saying, "I think I hear banjos being played, somewhere off in the distance." You know a little "Deliverance" jab, which we often do when we're out & about in the mountains. (Doesn't everyone?!). Only this time there really WAS a banjo being played!

I quickly (and very smoothly) pointed to a little wire basket he had for sale and asked him, "How much for this?" Samoooth, huh? I hadn't even noticed the stuff they had for sale until that very second, but it's amazing the details you can pick up when you feel your life may be endangered AND you're socially embarrassed because you've likely given the impression that you're making fun of someone. I was relieved he had some very cheap stuff for sale because at this point, I'd have bought a car from him if it would calm him down a little and not look like he was about to slather my head with honey and set me off in the wilderness for a little bear-time adventure, to live like Eric Rudolph. In case you didn't know, Murphy, NC is where they apprehended Eric Rudolph, the Olympic Park bomber, dumpster diving behind the Sav-A-Lot grocery store. Gets better & better, doesn't it?!

One seller lady whose company I really enjoyed for about 20 minutes had inherited a couple of estates and she was trying to reduce the STUFF. I found this little cutie pie in her "shop" for $2 and didn't even haggle with her. It's SOOOO cute.

When I got home I looked it up on eBay out of curiosity, and found one exactly like it for $169. It's a coffee jar and in mint condition. Cool. 

Here is a culturally significant find that I'm thinking belongs in a time capsule. I started to walk away after checking the price on the garden bench, and THEN I noticed the sign and had to take a picture. I know our daughter Emily would think it's a hoot:

Other culturally significant/ time-capsule-worthy images and experiences include the following water-fountain-pond-gone bad:

This was just outside the lobby entrance to the hotel where we stayed in Murphy. Before I go on about this fountain, let me just say that despite the look of this area of landscaping and the obvious elements of this fountain that are... how we say... FUGLY... and... how we said in design school... AESTHETICALLY UNPLEASING, the hotel itself was decent. I definitely got the impression that someone who works at the hotel (it was a national chain and I won't say which one) probably has a mom who decided it would be a "nice touch" to add a water element to the landscaping design. So she did. Things like that happen in teeny tiny little bitty eensie weensie towns. That being said... I want to particularly point out, if you can see it, the FISH which is behind the castle. It is HUUUUUUGE in scale compared to the castle. One might ask, "why, with ALL the things that are WRONG with this, does Sherri notice the scale of the fish?" Well, my friends, if I knew the answer to that question, that would mean I understand how my brain functions, and that just "ain't" going to happen. You probably cannot see it in this picture, but there IS a fish just behind the castle, and to explain the scale of it, if the castle were the United States, the fish would be the entire southern region, including Florida and Texas thrown in for good measure.

Now get out there and experience some CULTURE for yourself! Happy shopping!! :-)


  1. Boiled penuts are awesome!! Down here we get the true Cajun ones, Love them!!

  2. Ok, I guess I'll have to actually try them sometime, then, Kari! Sounds so gross but I'll give 'em a whirl.

  3. I scrolled down here to immediately post that boiled peanuts are AMAZING and I'm shocked to my core that you've never had one! But it looks like someone has already filled you in on this. On another note, I love to hear about your adventures! :) I can totally see myself in that socially awkward banjo situation! hahaha!

  4. Okay Okay, you guys talked me into trying boiled peanuts! We're going back to the Murphy flea market this Saturday and I'll let you know what I think about the peanuts. Maybe I can talk David into trying them, t0o. Couple of questions, though- 1)are they boiled in the shell? 2)if so, do you eat the shell too??

  5. They are boiled in the shell, but you do not eat the shell. I eat them like this: put the whole thing in your mouth. Bite down gently, cracking the shell. Suck all the heavinly, salty juice from it. Then I take it back out of my mouth (maybe not the most sanitary practice) and peel the shell off. Then I eat the peanuts inside. You don't have to do the sucking thing, though. I just really like all the salty goodness. It's probably really bad for blood pressure!!


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