Recently I went into the little estate sale store where I had purchased the Kitchen Aide Blender for $15 and found another treasure. The store was reorganizing to do more selling on Ebay. Down underneath a table in the back of the store were four pictures. I recognized three of them right away as Maxfield Parrish prints. They were original lithographs from 1922-24 and one other by R. Atkins. No prices. So I asked, we negotiated, we settled on $20 a piece. They are worth about $175 to $375 each.
I love them.
Yesterday I went into the store again. The sales clerk had a look of both trepidation and relief on his face when he saw me. “Is there anyway that I can buy those prints back from you?” he asked, “they were my bosses and they were family heirlooms from his grandparents.” Now this is a very nice guy , but I have to be honest, my first thought was that he had found out how much they were actually worth. Then he started offering me things in return. He asked me to name a price. I told him I would think on it and promised I wouldn’t leave him hanging.
On the way home I began thinking about my own grandmother. She lived in this wind and weather worn, white Victorian house stuffed with generations of, well…stuff. Old books, old coins, old instruments, pictures, furniture and just general stuff. I remember lying in the parlor on the floor one summer when I was nine, playing with a silver Victorian stereo-scope. There were boxes and boxes of pictures from all around the world and I would lie there making up stories about the people and places I saw through those lenses. When she died, without a word to me, my cousins held a sale and it was all gone. She had given me a few things while she was still alive, some pictures and my grandfathers violin. My aunt managed to save the clock my great grandfather had made, my grandmothers hope chest and a bunch of slides. No stereo-scope.
Now these pictures that I bought are by no means in perfect condition, much like all the “stuff” in my grandmother’s house. Our history is part of what makes us and our quirks are what make us stories. No good story ever came from perfection. And I asked myself, what is the true value of these pictures? The price? My adoration of them? His history of them? After all, how could I really know that they won’t show up on Ebay for 10 times what I paid for them?
But, I think, the true value of them is in a lesson of empathy, compassion and trust. It is a small show of compassion to be sure, but sometimes those are the hardest, because you really don’t know that they will make any difference at all. I think the reason a lot of people aren’t more compassionate is because they don’t want to be taken for a fool. Most especially when it comes to love.
I’m going to give the pictures back, of course. I’ll take the clerk up on his offer of a trade for a David Lee print. It is, by far, not worth as much as I would have gotten if I chose to sell the Maxfield Parrish prints on Ebay myself. But I like it. It’s worth what I originally paid for the four pictures. Will the Maxfield Parrish prints show up on Ebay for their real value? It doesn’t really matter to me. I will be sleeping well.
Luckily there are a few family heirlooms that I have which I can give away again and again. My grandfathers candy recipes. Sweet.
From the kitchen of Lloyd Robertson:
1 cup butter
1tbs. light corn syrup
3/4 cup coarsely chopped blanched almonds
4 4 1/2 oz. milk chocolate bars, melted
8 oz. milk chocolate bar
1 1/3 cup sugar
3 tbs. water
1 cup finely chopped almonds toasted
Melt butter in a heavy 2 quart sauce pan, add sugar, corn syrup and water. Cook and stir to hard cracked stage. Quickly stir in coarsely chopped nuts and spread in un-greased 9 in. sq. pan. Let this cool completely. Turn the candy out onto waxed paper, spread the top with half the chocolate, sprinkle with 1/2 of the finely chopped nuts. Cover with wax paper and let cool slightly. Flip it over and do the same on the other side. Chill. Break into pieces and share with your friends. There will be plenty.
1 cup water
1`cup Karo syrup
4 cups sugar
2-4 egg whites
Beat eggs until they are stiff. Please use an electric beater or you will need physical therapy. Cook sugar and water to 240 degrees, pour in one half of the eggs, cook to 260 degrees, pour in the rest of the eggs and mix. Spoon the stuff out onto wax paper and let it cool.
3/4 cup (1 1/2 stick) butter
3 cups sugar
1 can (5oz.) evaporated milk
1 pkg. (12oz) semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 jar (7oz) marshmallow cream
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp. vanilla
Mix butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a heavy 3 quart saucepan. Bring it to a full boil on medium heat and stirring constantly. Pay attention. Continue boiling for 5 minutes or until the candy thermometer reaches 234 F. Keep stirring! remove it from the heat and stir in the chocolate chips until they are all melted. Add the remaining ingredients and mix it up. Pour into a 9X13 greased pan. Cool at room temperature and cut into squares.