Saturday, June 26, 2010

Bachelor Pieces

Only seven days ago I was digging through a box of stuff shipped from Japan. Now, here I am again in the same place sifting through another box of odd bits, bachelor pieces with unconnected histories. What I mean is, things that spend most of their time in the background, are seldom picked up or used, but still treasured. All go back a long way, following me from one place to another.

Apart from the four things in the picture here, there were another two interesting bibelots in the mix that I managed to lose or break over the years. Always have my eye out now for another tiny, brown and cream ashtray from the old SS France ocean liner. A hundred years ago I took a ride on that ship going from Southampton in England to New York. The souvenir ashtray from that time is like the ship, long gone broken. And the partner to that little ashtray was a non-nautical sterling silver Ronson table lighter from the 1950s. It was a gift from a friend, who like me, always admired the Ronson lighters in old black and white Joan Crawford movies. A small silver pine cone, or was it a petit pineapple in Miss Crawford’s elegant grip that snapped out the perfect flame every time. That Ronson was lost, fallen by the wayside and passed by.

In the photos alongside there is an old London busman’s box, one of those period pieces used by British bus conductors as a receptacle for the bus fare of coins and bills. For years it has been empty, but always dusted, always pampered. The small silver disc on the top is attached to the box’s key, and is a 16th century Dutch button with a ship engraving. The pocket watch is a Japanese train conductor’s timepiece, a duplicate of those carried by all conductors on Japanese trains, and one that keeps perfect time. I haven’t carried it for a long time, but am careful to keep it running. The Zippo lighter is one designed (painted) for fishermen, and under the picture of the hooked bass is, ‘We fish with Zippo.’ I haven’t smoked for some years, but continue to have an interest in the related accessories, like ashtrays and lighters. As for the bass-lighter, no, I’ve never been a fisherman.

Is it wishful thinking to hope that the next garage sale or flea market will one day reward me with replacements for the SS France art deco ashtray and the Joan Crawford silver Ronson?

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America