Pickin’ through Chester County, by Tara Dugan
It is nearly winter in Chester County, and the “pickings” are not only slim but freezing, too. If you are missing your weekly yard sales, I have the perfect way to sate your appetite for McCoy pottery and Heywood Wakefield rattan – pick up a book. You heard me, pick up a book. Don’t download it or listen to it in traffic, but head over to the West Chester Public Library on Church Street or Chester County Book & Music Company and physically turn some pages and lose yourself in a nice, comfortable chair with your book.
For an entertaining read for the yard sale crowd, I recommend Savannah Blues by Mary Kay Andrews. It was given to me on a beach four years ago by my best friend Regina in an effort to shut me up after my own book was done and I was hot, bored and whiny. It worked, and I spent a wonderful afternoon on the sand in Cape May while my head was in Savannah.
New York Times bestselling author Mary Kay Andrews is a southern lady with a literary magic wand that weaves together all the things we love about the South, together with fun details about antiques, into a murder mystery with a heavy helping of romance on the side. Though she has written many bestsellers, Savannah Blues stands out for the way in which the author has harnessed the excitement of real-life picking and put it on the page.
In the novel, picker Eloise Foley has finally gotten the chance to score an antique treasure from Beaulieu, the grand mansion she’s been after since childhood. An ill-advised sneak preview of the goods lands her at the center of a murder investigation, and it takes her finely tuned antiquing instincts to save her own hide. The details are dead-on, and yes, you will learn something about spotting a treasure. For example, here is our heroine at one of her sales:
There was a whole carton of Fire-King jadeite dishes, with sectioned luncheon plates, matching coffee mugs, cereal bowls and chop plates, enough to stock a small 1950’s diner.
Another box yielded mint-condition magazines from the thirties and forties: Field and Stream, Boys’ Life, Argosy, Collier’s and Vanity Fair. The covers were original illustrations by the biggest names of the era. The Field and Streams alone would bring fifteen dollars a pop from my antiquarian book guy in Charleston.
The author also knows her stuff about Yankee goods, too, and has visited Chester County Book & Music Company to do a signing for her book The Fixer Upper. For Mary Kay Andrews, her dream day of Pennsylvania picking begins in local barns and attics searching for yelloware bowls, Amish quilts and Ohio Art toys. While this laid-back lady is humble and professes to “just love old junk,” the artist emerges when she elaborates and says she really loves “the stories old junk can tell.”
You can find those stories at Chester County Book & Music Company, where John can also guide you around one of the best antique sections in the country. And take heart – yard sales (like pitchers and catchers) will be back before spring.