You can keep the old stuff

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

I managed to stop by the Suffolk Art League’s Antique Show and Sale briefly Saturday afternoon.

I had never been to it and was somewhat surprised to see the parking lot at King’s Fork Middle School so full and the show teeming with people.

I stopped by to take a couple pictures on my way home from work. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have crossed my mind to have attended, because I can’t stand old things.

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Not old people, necessarily, who simply annoy me, but old furniture, houses and the like kind of creep me out. I’m not weird or anything. I don’t profess to suffer from archaiaphobia — a morbid, irrational fear of antiques

like actor Billy Bob Thornton who cannot eat around them n I just don’t like them. And no, I don’t wear a vial of my wife’s blood around my neck or have her name tattooed on my arm, either.

I think my distaste for antiquities goes back to my childhood when members of my family would frequently gather at my aunt Reet’s house.

Aunt Reet, who is now 94, seemed like she was in her 80s 40 years ago when we lived nearby. The furniture and carpet n and oftentimes the food in the refrigerator n were at least as old. The entire house had that old, musty smell to it. It scared the bejeezus out of me. I was convinced it was haunted.

Today, anytime I’m in an old building or around old furniture and get a whiff of that odor, it takes me back to that time. It’s not a pleasant journey.

About five years ago my uncle died. I went to Philippi, W.Va. for the funeral and, as usual, everyone was hanging out at Reet’s. We spent the night before the funeral drinking beer and sharing stories about my uncle.

We were drinking Budweiser and mine tasted funny. Anheuser-Busch prints the date the beer was brewed on the bottom of its cans. Knowing it came from Reet’s refrigerator, I hoisted the can and saw it was produced in 1996. I put it down and went to a nearby convenience store for a fresher brew.

I won’t have old furniture in my home. About 10 years ago my wife got into antiques. In short order, we had a houseful. Every piece of furniture we had was some kind of Victorian era piece. Our home was beautiful. Our home was elegant. Our home was stately. Our home stunk.

Finally, I convinced her the furniture smell was causing her migraines and she had a big yard sale. It was the one time I gladly helped out, carrying every piece of furniture in our home to the front yard. A woman who had just purchased a house she was converting to a bed and breakfast stopped by and bought the entire lot. Since then, we’ve only purchased new furniture.

We lived in a couple of older homes, too n one built in the 1930s and the other we think was built in the early days of the 20th century. While they were beautiful, stately homes, in both cases the smells finally got the better of us and we got out, in one case taking a loss.

Don’t get me wrong. I think the old homes in downtown Suffolk are beautiful and I admire those who are working to remodel them and bring them back to life. And as much as I would enjoy the convenience of living downtown, I’m afraid it’s just not for me.

Thank goodness there are not that many people like me and Billy Bob. If there were, we would lose a lot of what makes Suffolk unique and charming, and groups like the Suffolk Art League would lose successful fundraising opportunities.

Andy Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at