Above is the one and only showing of a vase I once owned. It had a very private life while it resided with us in our Harrison NY home. It has a beginning, a middle and ending! And each level is interesting and filled with a bit of intrigue; for a vase! And on each level is wisdom and a bit of wit!
This all started early one Saturday morning while my husband and I were having coffee. He was looking at our local newspaper, The Daily Item, and saw an ad for a car for sale in Silver Lake; another part of our community. He commented on it that we should take a ride up to the hills and see this car. We were in need of a better vehicle. So, off we go to find this place where the car lives and our hopes were high! Our car climbed the hilly roads and we finally found the house. The elderly couple was outdoors raking leaves. We introduced ourselves and told them that we read their ad about their car and we were interested; only if it and the price met our needs. While my husband went to check the car out, I was invited to go inside their home as they were selling everything. They were returning to Scotland. The very first thing I saw that I loved was their oriental rug; in all shades of green and touches of deep blues. I asked her price and she said, “not for sale; I’m sending it to Scotland!” I saw many things I liked! Especially their dining room set! Although it was very small, as they were tiny people, I still liked it. A small table with drop leaves and four chairs with green covering. Also, a lovely matching breakfront! Sold, I told her. She showed me many small vases and pictures which I thought were quite interesting. Her asking price for the vases were nominal. The small ones, 25 cents each and the larger one for 50 cents! I took them all as they were lovely. A matching pink set and the others in different shades of white. And a few Rococo’s; two pictures of Scotland! We tallied up the bill and it was $300. My husband walked in and said the car needed too much work. I showed him what I had just purchased and he was pleased.
Once home, I began placing the vases all over the house. Except, I had a problem with the .50 cent one. It was tubular, black and had poppies on it. So, I put in the entrance hall and placed my umbrella in it. It worked for a while, until somebody commented that it was ugly. I looked at my visitor and said, “really?” I moved it into the living room and set it on an end table. Most of the treasures we bought on that day, received compliments. Except, the tall black one. Another person suggested I just throw it out; it only cost .50 cents!
We enjoyed our small dining room set immensely. However, another fantastic offer came our way and we couldn’t refuse. This time it was a fully grown-up dining room. A large rectangular table which opened right into the next room! Six chairs, a magnificent breakfront with beveled glass and dustproof shelves. To us, it was a masterpiece! So, we sold the Scottish table and chairs but kept the small breakfront which I still have. With a prayer of thanks to that lovely couple.
And, for only $300 we had a newer set! The ugly, unusual vase that didn’t get recognition or even one compliment was moved to the first level of the breakfront; for all to see!
We entertained many people in our small home, with joy. Many stories were told around our dining room table and many memories were made. This particular memory which I share with you now has pain, love, and life.
My young cousin, her husband, and son were living in NYC on Hudson Street and a very sad happening occurred. Her husband was killed. We invited my cousin and her son to come stay with us until she was ready to move on with her life. She accepted. One evening, right after the funeral service, a group of city friends came to visit her. Many came and we set a wonderful table. Mixed drinks, tea & coffee; dishes filled with food and many deserts. They were friendly and from all walks of life and most all lived in NYC. And some were from out of state. They were an eclectic group.
While I was serving coffee, one young man walked in, quite handsome he was; sky blue eyes, bright wavy, coppery hair and smile as big as all outdoors. His name was David and I’ll never forget him. He took out his wallet and dropped two, $100 bills on the table! I want to buy that vase! I stopped dead in my tracks! I looked at my husband and saw a gleam in his eyes! I knew what he was thinking, immediately! (A lot of .50 cent pieces in those bills! )I smiled and said,” it’s not for sale!” What was going on in my mind? David knew a lot more than me and he was coming from the art world! Someone, other than me, was attracted to my vase!
Next morning, I got up early and packed my pet, the ugly vase up! Wrapped in bubble plastic and large towel, I placed it in a cardboard box and stored it in our bedroom closet! Why, did I do that? I can’t explain. Only, I knew that this vase had a story to tell. It’s time hadn’t come yet!
Since my daughter was out in the world, on her own, my husband decided to convert her small bedroom into a large walk-in closet. I heard him shout down to me,” what’s in this box and what do I do with it? Oh, oh, my vase again! I moved it to another closet. Later, for you, I whispered to the box!
Time passed and so did my husband! But I had no thoughts about the vase! A few years passed and my daughter was going to have her second child, my granddaughter! Their apartment was comfortable for the three of them; Paula, her husband, and baby son! Now, they’d need more room, so I offered the house but realized some renovating would be needed. Amidst the construction work, I heard the question;” Mom, what’s in this box and what do I do with it?”
The box moved downstairs with me. I told my daughter that one day soon we must find out about this vase! Finally, after we were all settled; the grandkids in school at Parsons, I approached my daughter and the topic, the vase!
I had read in the local papers that there was going to be an Antique Road Show at Manhattanville College soon. So I took my vase, in hiding, off to Manhattanville. The other end of Harrison! I unveiled my precious vase to only be told, “we don’t handle pottery!” I was given a business card; “get in touch with this outfit, they handle pottery!” This roadshow was representing Southbys in the city! Not clay pots! So, packed up the vase and off we go.
The following Monday I was on the phone calling Cincinnati, Ohio. They wanted me to send them the vase and when they held their next auction, they would include it! That didn’t sit well with me! Of course, pending the sale, I would receive a portion of the sale! No way! Paula took over the project. She sent Oprah a picture of the vase and it appeared on T.V.! Well, it did get some recognition! Oprah could only guesstimate a figure of around $5,000!
So onward we go! Next, Paula’s on the phone with our cousin Chris who was quite aware of what Paula was trying to do! Paula brought all the Library books home and combed through all American pottery! Bingo! She found our vase! She found everything she needed. The markings on the vase; its history! Not to long after that, Paula and her husband were on the computer and on the phone with Chris. They called me to hurry into the kitchen because my precious vase was going on auction on Ebay! Mom, she shouted, “it’s done! It’s sold to an artist out west!” The amount was staggering! Paula received instructions on how to package the vase; how much insurance and where to send it. My mouth dropped! I thought of Larry and of my Scottish friends. Wouldn’t they be amazed and happy! If we had that amount of cash when we purchased our home in 1965, we could have bought it outright! Now, we had to repack the vase, in a stronger box and plenty of bubbly plastic! But, it doesn’t end there. Oh no, the new owner knew what she was purchasing and resold for double the price.
We followed instructions. Mailed our vase and awaited the check! A lot of trust goes into this kind of selling. The check arrives. One last job for me is to go to our local bank and deposit the check!
First, the teller wouldn’t accept my deposit! I must see the Bank Manager and receive approval. Okay, I do understand all of this! I’m all for following the rules. The Bank Manager, who I will not name, wanted to know the complete history of this check; of the entire sale! He definitely would not approve my deposit! He didn’t believe in sales on Ebay! Didn’t I know any better than to go on Ebay, asked he? My world began to crumble! Too late to go to the main branch in the next town! My family remained with their mouths open as I disclosed all that had transpired at the bank!
Next morning I’m off to the home office with my check. I asked to see the President of the bank and shared my story and disclosed to him the unfair treatment I received from the bank manager in Harrison. I told him that the first thing we did when we received the check was to call the Bank out west to confirm that the funds were on hand. They confirmed the amount and knew about the transaction because it was a local artist who had given her bank a heads up. My local bank manager did not even make an attempt to check the details! And refused to call the Bank! The President also called. He was more than reassured and apologized for the treatment I received from my local bank. No need to say more but I never forgot the sting of that situation.
My .50 cents netted me a little under $20,000! To this day, I’m grateful to my little lady from Scotland! I think of her often!
Nancy Fraioli is a retired Benefits Asst. from Town/Village of Harrison, NY. She’s alive and well, residing in Sarasota with her daughter and family and enjoying the Floridian lifestyle daily.
Her passions are writing, reading books of philosophy, children’s stories and poetry. Her deep love is living, learning and sharing how faith, meditation, and music guide her daily life. And she loves to lunch with the ladies!