”I have great faith in fools — self-confidence my friends call it.” Edgar Allen Poe
There is a comfort in old things; things with wear and shine from use. A sort of permanence that escapes the tools and toys of the modern world. What is more reassuring than a ragged King James Bible held together by tape, faith and an old person’s hands? There is no such charm to be found in today's gadgets designed for immediate obsolescence.
When I visit an antique store, flea market or old homestead, I look for what is broken; a tool with a cracked handle patched with tightly wound wire or metal plate, a chipped plate or cup, furniture with excessive wear and flaws produce by time and use. These things have a story to tell or at least one I can imagine.
A few years back, I purchased a dough trough from an antique dealer in south Mississippi. It was rough, made of soft wood and unsealed, showing wear with cracks and gouges. It was not well formed by a craftsman, purely utilitarian in design.
True or not, the story behind it led me to hand over a few dollars and carry it home.
The dealer said, "That's not the type of dough trough that you would find in a plantation home or almost any home. Those would be made of oak or walnut and of better form. This trough came from a slave kitchen where the cook would make bread for the field hands."
My imagination took hold and visions of an old woman filled my mind; a woman with gnarled fingers from too many years in the fields, now too old for such work, kneading dough, stirring a pot, swatting flies and children who come too close before wiping the sweat from her brow with her apron.
There may be no truth in any of it but I’m ok with that.
I find myself using a Kindle more often these days. It serves a purpose and fulfills needs and provides convenience. But there is no character in a Kindle; no dog-eared pages, no hurried handwritten notes in the margins, no folded pages of favorite passages. All the things that say that this book, this tool, belongs to someone with passion, practiced skill and their own story to tell.