Throwing It Away

Walking around my new neighborhood at lunchtime today, I came across an interesting little shop that sells antique lamps. The proprietor gets them from various places: a bazar here and there, estate sales when he can find them, and even from time to time the dumpster not far from his store.

“I found one beautiful lamp there, brought it over, cleaned it up, and sold it the same day for 4,000 crowns,” he said.

What is it that makes people want to throw away items of heritage in favor of newer, uglier, more mundane items – what Douglas Coupland referred to as “semi-disposable Swedish furniture”?

More stories were told, of people reconstructing their apartments and throwing away priceless secession-era furniture, before talk eventually turned to the Communists.

“When our family was relocated from our apartment on Jeruzalemská out to the paneláks, my great-grandmother took a hammer and smashed her porcelain set,” my soulmate said.

“Because she didn’t want anybody to make any money on the set?” the shopkeeper asked.

“Maybe, but I think it had more to do with the fact that it wouldn’t fit in the new apartment. And we found out later that some people who offered to take the porcelain cabinet turned it into a rabbit hutch,” my soulmate said.

“That’s how we value our past,” the shopkeeper said. “But maybe that’ll change. I’m hoping it will.”

For our part, we bought two ceiling lamps, both art deco/art moderne and nicely restored, for the price of the new chandelier at the shop around the corner, the one that reminded me of Liberace at a whorehouse.

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