Monday, February 21, 2011

Adventures in Lincoln Square: Penn Dutchman Antiques

There is no such thing as a quick pop-in to Lincoln Square's Penn Dutchman Antiques, 4912 N. Western.

Even the shop's owner, Jim Mowery, when I was trying to leave the first time, said "You didn't go upstairs."

"What's upstairs?" I asked.

"Linens, furniture, costumes," Jim replied.

I then trekked upstairs, wishing my leg and lower back were feeling better and I could be more excited by this slice of hoarder heaven, which is full of 39,000 items in 13 rooms, and has a steady stream of fans if all of the other people I encountered who were either buying treasures from Jim or trying to sell them to him were any indication.

In one of the rooms, a middle-aged guy from Detroit, whose name I didn't jot down, was grinning ear to ear like a kid and telling me that he has never seen anything like the Penn Dutchman. He was holding a vintage looking sugar creamer and some sort of brass iron piece that looked like a piece of something else. He had a burning question for Jim and was on his way to go ask it as if time were running out.

Having been somewhat of a hoarder in the past (though mostly cured of garage and estate sales and musty places after I brought an invasion of dust mites into my home that required two professional fumigations, a trip to the ER, and a week of dermatological treatment, all for a $75 cardboard box of goodies from the basement of a house where all three children died long before their parents) I wasn't looking for anything in particular. I'd ended up in this magical place because I decided that I wanted to go on a bit of a walk after a doctor's appointment in Lincoln Square, even if LS is technically out of the pipeline's "coverage area."

The second time I tried to leave, Jim was with a customer at the register and said, "You didn't see that box of stuff I put out for you, there is some Wicker Park stuff in it!"

I tried to find the box for at least five minutes, but there were a lot of boxes. Jim was at the register with a few clients, so I waited for him, and then he showed me dance cards from Wicker Park dance halls.

Though it's tough to call out a favorite room, I think the one room that I will definitely come back to once I am feeling better, is the small one which is full of discarded snapshots from days gone by.

Looking over the snapshots of yesteryear were Nick Osborn of the blog, Square America, and his friend, Michael Williams. The gentleman, who'd happily admitted they'd just spent two or so hours in the room, are also co-authors of a book, Who We Were, a Snapshot History of America.

From the looks of it, the guys were finding some good stuff!

Nick ended up purchasing 100 prints, at a reasonable price of 50 cents a pop, earning him a special gift of pressed leaves from Jim, and Michael walked away with 36 snapshots of forgotten moments that otherwise would not be chronicled.

Note: For special deals at Penn Dutchman, Jim said that I should check out the LSCC web site.

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