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Peculiarities #3

March 6, 2017


 I’d just climbed into a barber’s chair when the front door opened and a raggedy fellow entered, struggling with a peculiar item under his arm.


“Anyone want to buy this?” he asked, extending his chin in the direction of the thing in his arms.


The occupants of three other barber’s chairs shook their heads, along with the scissor-wielding barbers hovering behind them. But I was intrigued, and had watched too many Antique Roadshows to ignore a possible treasure.


“What is it?” I asked.


The raggedy man cleared his throat and shrugged his shoulders, a gesture made difficult because of the item in his tattooed arms.


“Where did you get it?” I asked.


“Pulled it from a dumpster.”


I considered the possibility it was stolen, that this guy might be a burglar, but my suspicion that he was a thief was somewhat allayed because he looked like someone who would engage in dumpster-diving.


One of the barbers shooed him away. “Not today, Jack. Get out of here,” he barked without malice, his sharp scissors snipping the air around a bald customer.


As my own barber fastened the buttons of a cape around my neck I whispered, “Is Jack a regular around here?”


“He comes in from time to time, usually with something he’s found and trying to sell. He’s a good enough guy.”


“He isn’t a thief?”


“No. Just a guy hard on his luck and trying to get by.”


I turned my attention to the “thing” in Jack’s arms. It was made of metal, with an interesting patina. I’d never seen anything like it.


“I think it’s a bench,” Jack said. “It’s yours for twenty bucks.”


“I don’t have twenty bucks. How about ten?”


He dropped it in front of my chair and said, “SOLD.”


I pulled back the cape and reached for my wallet, handing over the lonely sawbuck in my wallet. Jack accepted it gratefully, turned on his dirty sneakers and exited the shop.


When I pulled off the cape, picked up the so-called bench and lugged it toward the door my barber asked, “Where are you going?”


“That was all the money I had,” I explained. “I’ll come back next week.”


I lugged that metal bench five blocks until reaching home. By the time I climbed the stairs to our front porch it felt like it weighed a ton.






Today, this bench rests at the top of our stairs. Every time I pass by, I hear and feel a barber’s razor on the back of my neck. Sometimes I sit there and wish I had my ten bucks back.



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You need to take that to antique's Roadshow and get some history. It looks fascinating.
By: Tabor on March 6, 2017
you have no end to fascinating stories! Did you ever see that guy again?
By: Kathe W. on March 6, 2017
I like that kind of stuff better than what you can get in the shops sometimes, although admittedly it depends what it is. I wonder how old it is. Looks 1950s to me.
By: Jenny Woolf on March 6, 2017
You helped Jack out and that's all that matters. Did you go back to that barber shop and pay your barber?
By: Alex J. Cavanaugh on March 6, 2017
I like the looks of that bench. You probably gave Jack a reason to extend his faith in his fellow man. I hope you didn't make an enemy of the barber :) R
By: Rick Watson on March 6, 2017
I'll bet it is worth a lot more than $10, but not sure I like it. I think it could grow on you. The story makes it more interesting.
By: cranky on March 6, 2017
That was a win/win. You made Jack's day, you got a rather cool looking conversation piece and a neat post. Also, I'm with joeh, I think it is worth much more.
By: Arkansas Patti on March 6, 2017
That's something i would have bought, too -- it looks like even my kids couldn't destroy it!
By: messymimi on March 6, 2017
I love that "bench"! Have you ever been able to find out anything about it (or another one like it)?
By: Mitchell is Moving on March 6, 2017
Well sometimes we have to take a risk. The "thing" looks quite ornate. Now about the barber's pay? What happened there?
By: red Kline on March 6, 2017
I love this little one seat bench. It is so unique looking and very artistic in style. Did you ever find any date or mark on it? I wonder if it is Victorian or art Nouveau....what do you think??
By: Birgit on March 6, 2017
I love it. I wish you knew more about its origins. Love, Janie
By: Janie Junebug on March 6, 2017
I like it. And would like to know more about it. And I'm glad you could help a guy out while you were at it. If it turns out to be worthless as is, maybe you could take it to a metal recycling place and get more than $10 in exchange ...
By: jenny_o on March 6, 2017
I like it. And would like to know more about it. And I'm glad you could help a guy out while you were at it. If it turns out to be worthless as is, maybe you could take it to a metal recycling place and get more than $10 in exchange ...
By: jenny_o on March 6, 2017
It looks like an interesting piece. Might need some cleaning up.
By: Patrick Dilloway on March 6, 2017
If you want to get rid of it, I'll gladly take it!!
By: fishducky on March 6, 2017
That's cool. It looks like something my husband would bring home from an antique store or the end of somebody's driveway.
By: Val on March 6, 2017
And what does Mrs Chubby Chatterbox think of it? I wouldn't want it in my home but I do kinda like it.
By: LL Cool Joe on March 7, 2017
I really like it. You might send a photo of it to the antiques column in the Oregonian. What ever you do, do not remove the patina or try to clean it up. Wish I had been in the barber's chair when he came in; or near the bin where he found it.
By: jo on March 7, 2017
I really like it - wouldn't really have a use for it - but I'd probably still bring it home - what fun - don't forget to pay the barber!
By: Mary Ellen on March 7, 2017
Oh, yeah, that's a find for Antiques Roadshow, for sure.
By: Catalyst on March 7, 2017
It is certainly a unique piece and that patina may be a big deal. Ten bucks was a big deal for one party for sure.
By: Daniel LaFrance on March 7, 2017
So is this one of the things you will get rid of as you are decluttering your house this year?
By: Pixel Peeper on March 9, 2017

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