St. Joseph’s Home

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While driving this past weekend, I was forced to take a detour from my normal route due to a train stopped on some railroad tracks. This unfamiliar route led past a very large and beautiful building which caught my attention. Was this Bill Clinton’s childhood home? Had I stumbled upon the estate of a cotton and soybean magnate’s colonial plantation? No, this building was actually the site of the St. Joseph’s Home. Beginning as an orphanage about one hundred years ago, this property was run by the Catholic church and staffed by nuns. It must have been quite the operation during its heyday in the middle part of the twentieth century; with eighty bedrooms, this building was home to hundreds of children.

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There is definitely a heavy Catholic presence on the property as statues of Mary and various saints are scattered throughout the lawns. Joseph is the patron saint of workers, and maybe those in authority picked the name as part of an attempt to instill a hearty work ethic into the children to whom they were entrusted. A Google search returns a couple interesting historical articles about the property, and it sounds as if the operation ran a tight ship with manual labor and Scripture memorization assigned as punishments for various infractions.

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Eventually, operations at the orphange ceased; however, there is still activity and production in the area. In fact, it looks like some of the property is now used as a community garden plot, and signs advertise a Saturday morning farmer’s market. It was definitely enjoyable meandering through this historic plot of land, and I guess my detour was not such a bad thing after all.

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More Antiques

Vacation days really are a dangerous thing for me as I once again stumbled upon another antique store. This time I discovered an old Frabill’s metal minnow bucket. It turns out Frabill’s is still in business and still selling fishing equipment; in fact, a modern-day minnow bucket from this company can be purchased from Cabella’s or Dick’s Sporting Goods. This one looks like it is in pretty good condition except for some missing lettering; underneath the Frabill’s logo, the “WADE BUCKET” lettering is mostly gone.  Nine dollars was probably a good deal as I spotted the exact same one for sale on for $22.

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I managed to find another pretty cool piece; this one being a 1968 Chein Company Revolutionary War tin wastebasket. On one side is a recruiting poster demonstrating the progression of firing and reloading a rifle as well as the date and location of this specific recruiting event and the benefits of enlisting in the Continental Army.

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On the other side are pictures of three Revolutionary War-era soldiers accompanied by a short history and job description. The first picture is a 1781 New Jersey Infantry Officer. The description tells of the regiment’s early defeats in New York and subsequent victories in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

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The middle picture details a 1794 Dragoon Orderly. These highy trained troops were used effectively during the Revolutionary War and in later campaigns against the Indians in the early 1790s.

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The final picture is a 1786 Artilleryman; these soldiers were used in the frontier region to protect U.S. interests from any hostile Indian activity.

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While not in mint condition, I do think this collectible was a good deal for $5 as I spotted similar items selling online between $20 and $35

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I come from a long lineage of antique and auction aficionados. The patriarch of this movement is no doubt my grandfather who has been collecting antiques for several decades. His specialty is Depression-era glassware; the running joke in the family is he could start an antiques store simply by hanging an open sign above the basement door. Apparently antique-collecting is pseudo-genetic because my mom most definitely enjoys the hobby. Her areas of interest include quality wooden furniture as well as European pieces and dinner china. By no means have I fully developed a passion for antiquing, but I do enjoy frequenting antique stores and auctions occasionally.

My latest expeditions have yielded some unique pieces. One of my finds is a Wisconsin covered cheese box bought for $15. I highly doubt I will ever possess enough cheese to fill this box, but I’m sure it can be repurposed to hold/display any number of momentos…or my Bon Jovi CD collection.

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Another of my other finds is a Seagram’s Epsom Derby mirror bought for $30. Named after the same area as the famous Epsom Salt, this English horse race has a long history dating back to the 1600s. From their website displaying men in suits and women wearing fancy hats , I imagine this event is the British version of the Kentucky Derby.

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Auctions can be another source for distinctive pieces. I thought about bidding on these life-size horse replicas, but $550 was too rich for my blood.

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I did manage to collect a few items which will hopefully serve both a functional and decorative purpose in my apartment. I liked the worn look of this magazine rack and placed the winning bid for twenty dollars. However, I did discover a Made in Phillipines sticker on the bottom, so I’m not sure how authentic or vintage this piece actually is.

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I also placed the winning bid for a pair of hand-carved, wooden camel footstools. Maybe $90 was a little steep for these two, but the bidding was fairly intense in the heat of the moment. I’m unsure of the origin or history of these pieces, but they seem fairly well-made. Hopefully, they are genuine products from the Middle East.

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