Great Aunt Pearl had been a great hit with all of the Halloween Walkers, scaring the children just a bit with the baggy support hosiery around her ankles and the large mole on her chin, and making their parents, the ones who might actually buy jewelry laugh and share stories about female relatives with the same lovable, disheveled persona. Ricky had marked everything in the store down by her usual Halloween discount of 35% and making deals of earrings thrown in with pendants and toe rings with bracelets. The “Black Heart” pendant had gone to an out of towner, who had come up for the festivities, and who ended up purchasing a chocolate diamond and pearl set for his wife for Christmas. Stanton Christophersen, the Ryan Reynolds guy, came to the shop after his store closed and bought a pin to send to his mom who it turned out lived in Roanoke, Virginia, where Ricky had attended college. Stanton, who sometimes went by Stan, was a geologist and quite knowledgeable about some of the stones Ricky used in her jewelry, which gave them something to talk about without getting too personal, which by Ricky’s estimation, felt quite safe. When she asked him how a geologist got into the vintage clothing, consignment shop business, he smiled and said, “I think a piece of clothing, just like an old rock, that serves a purpose, or brings joy into someone’s life should be given a chance to do it again. You and I are really in the same business,” he continued. “You give rocks a second chance to shine, and I do the same for your grandma’s shoes.” After that they shared a cinnamon roll at the Main Street Restaurant, and Stanton insisted she take the gooey sweet center roll. Ricky was starting to like him.
The dilemma was Halloween. In Idaho Springs if you didn’t dress up people asked if you had been ill. Ricky’s trademark costume was a witch with long spider web fingernails and a hat that made it hard to walk through the average doorway, but last year the hat had blown off and landed in the street where it was trampled by a guy on a Vespa that was covered in orange lights. So now she had no hat, and you couldn’t be a proper witch without one. She was feeling a little panicked because tonight was the night that the Main Street businesses would be open for trick or treating and general milling around. Asta was serving her “Creepy Caldron Coffee” that came with a plastic spider on the side of the cup, Josh and Michelli would be handing out miniature whoopee pies with cobweb frosting, and the brewery had some sort of bat-wing brew for patrons to sample. Ricky made jewelry, all by hand with semi-precious stones and some intricate detail. Trick or treaters to her studio would get their name in a drawing for a chance to win her onyx and coral pendant that she had just completed. She called it “Black Heart” in keeping with the holiday. She was expecting a crowd and couldn’t greet them without a costume. That’s when she decided to go to the new consignment store and get a dress and possibly a wig that could make her look like her great Aunt Pearl. She would put on too bright lipstick and tuck a hanky into her cleavage, and her witch shoes could easily double as Aunt Pearl footwear. She ran across the street into the store, and there he was-the Ryan Reynolds guy, behind the counter. She should have looked more closely at the card he gave her where it said he was the proprietor of “Repeat Performance”, the new consignment shop in town. He was wearing a dark gray sweatshirt and jeans, and he looked like he belonged. Ricky pulled his card out of her coat pocket and looked at his name. If you were going to buy an old ladies dress from someone, it was only right to introduce yourself.
Being a mining town, Idaho Springs once ran with rivers of alcohol. Well – not really, but miners loved to drink and the accepted story is that at one point in time, there were more taverns in town than homes. On January 6, 1917, Colonel Buffalo Bill Cody, famous for his Wild West shows, made one of these taverns famous. On this day he shared a drink with local miners in the Duck Inn (now known as the Patten Building). He was extremely ill at this time and died several days later. This saloon went down in history as the place where Buffalo Bill had his last drink, a mixture of whiskey and cider called the Stone Fence.
The name steamer trunk is frequently misused. Many people tend to generalize and call all old trunks steamer trunks; but a true steamer trunk is about half the height of most regular flat top trunks because they were used by passengers in their quarters during steamship voyages. Everything they would need during the voyage would be packed in that trunk and it was allowed in their room. Their other trunks, if they had them, were stored in the cargo hold and were not accessible during the journey. So, the term is associated with steam ships but not all trunks that traveled on steamships were steamers.
The classic flat top trunks we generally think of as steamer trunks were made from about the 1870s to around 1920. These trunks were the workhorses of that period, although flat trunks have been around since the very earliest Egyptian trunks. Another popular design during the flat top’s heyday had a rounded top. There are many stories to explain why the popularity of trunk design went from flat top stagecoach design to the round tops and humpbacks. Some say these rounded trunks came about because people were fed up with baggage handlers stacking their trunks and damaging them, so the round top evolved. It probably took porters about half-a-minute to tip the trunks over on their side and continue stacking them. Maybe that’s why flat top trunks came back into fashion.
Flat top trunks make beautiful coffee tables, and can be used to store blankets or toys. Adding a classic trunk to a room adds charm and a little history to the space. It even brings a touch of glamor, as we imagine the ocean liners the trunks traveled on and the items they carried.
Henry Plummer left his native Maine as a young man and came to the West, poor and alone, journeying from one place to another, seeking his fortune. He came to Idaho Springs during the Colorado gold rush of 1859 and and made a claim on Chicago Creek. With hard work, panning in the creek, Plummer extracted gold amounting to about $30,000, which became the foundation of his independent fortune. He served as the town’s first banker as well as one of the first City Council members. In the early 1880s, Plummer purchased and developed commercial properties along Miner Street such as his own business at 1518 Miner St., Henry Plummer & Co., Flour, Hay, Grain & Coal. This building is now occupied by Mainstreet Restaurant. Next time you come in for breakfast, take just a moment to read the historic marker on the Plummer Building. Rich history is all around in Idaho Springs.
Sometimes the smallest changes make for the best results. For instance, creating a place in your bedroom where you can shut out the noise and hustle of the world and quietly prepare for what’s on your calendar can set the proper tone for your whole day. You don’t have to change your entire house or even your whole room, just that one corner that you claim as your space, and yours alone. An antique dressing table can help you make that space come alive with glamour and charm. Today this table is called a vanity table; in the 19th century, it was known as a dressing table; but in the 18th century, it was a toilet table. A mirror that could be tipped for a better view was attached to the top of the table by the 1750s. Thomas Chippendale designed a “toylet” table in 1762 that had not only a mirror but also a fancy, ruffled fabric skirt. Whatever style suits you, giving new life to an old vanity/dressing table can lend new life to your personal space. Go ahead – create that charming, glamorous corner. You deserve it.
The cold had started to settle for the autumn months on Main Street, leaving a light skiff of snow around the lampposts, encouraging the early morning crowd to add a wooly scarf and gloves to their cargo shorts and boots. In Idaho Springs, long pants with real coats weren’t considered necessary until mid-November, and even then you kept your hoodie close by for those “almost like summer” days. Ricky pulled off her vest as she found a place at one of the front tables at the Mainstreet Restaurant and ordered her favorite short stack of plate sized buttermilk pancakes and apple cider glazed pork loin. Mainstreet Restaurant was one of those places in town where people gathered to see “what was up on the street”, and there was a crowd seated now discussing if the Christmas tree lighting should be on December first, or if they should move it to December 2nd since it was a Friday. One of the guys, in his early sixties, looking like he was fit to climb Mount Evans that afternoon, seated himself across from Ricky as she was having her coffee refilled. They discussed the tree dilemma and Ricky voted for the Friday lighting. A younger man, one she’d seen coming out of Tommyknocker Brewery a time or two walked over to the table and seconded Ricky’s opinion about the tree lighting. He suggested that Friday was a better “date night”, then he left his card on the table and sauntered out the front door.