I’m waiting to interview a woman who’s moving away from a huge antiques store she’s owned for over 30 years. While we’re waiting, I ask her assistant John - a 61-year-old black man originally from Memphis - to show me his favorite parts of the 15,000 square-foot maze.
He takes me to a section full of brass and copper pieces.
John: I don’t know what it is about brass. I guess it’s just the way that it, I don’t know, I just like it.
Me: What do you like about it?
John: I like the…like this. (points to the feathers on a brass eagle) The detail that the person took to do that. I don’t know how they do that, but I would like to see it being done. See, in wood, you can just imagine somebody got something and carve it. But with this, I wonder how they do that.
John: I like old stuff, antiques. I walk around everyday and I just see stuff…I see it and then it just amazes me how it looks, the way people took they time to do that. And then they don’t do it no more, so.
John: And trains, I like trains. ‘Cause when I was little we used to always…See, I’m from Memphis, Tennessee so like, when school be out, my mother and them used to put us on the train and we’d ride the train, me and my brother, to Chicago to visit with my auntie and them and stay up there for the summer and ride the train back. And all the time, the trains used to meet on up with them trains with the big tires and smoke coming out and I used to like that. And then, when I got here (the antiques shop) now she got the trains.
Me: Would you mind if I got a photo of you? You’ve got that great hat. Did you get that hat from here?
John: You know actually, it was a guy that worked at here. He had went and bought this hat and when he got it, the fur - when he let it down - it irritated his face and he didn’t want it. So he gave it to me.