I’m not a big fan of heart-shaped jewelry. I find it juvenile, so I wasn’t too upset when a heart-linked gold bracelet my husband gave me one year for Valentine’s Day went missing while I was wearing it. I might wear my heart on my sleeve but never around my neck, on my wrist, or ring finger.
As is my luck, a friend of my daughter’s found it about eight months later on a wooded path I used to get to the cliffs at Camp Hero in Montauk. It was a bit crushed but still wearable. Nonetheless, I threw it in my jewelry box along with the other odd bits of gold jewelry that I owned. Hearts, gold or silver, stay tucked away. If it’s a heart-shaped box filled with chocolate-covered nuts, it will also stay tucked away, hidden actually, so I can savor them whenever one of my frequent chocolate cravings kick in.
Once the price of gold soared, I started looking at my trinkets in a whole new light, wondering what they may be worth if I sold them. Winter in Montauk will do that to you. Now, I’ve become obsessed and have started studying almost everything I touch for its resale value.
Since the experts have said we need more green and black tea in our lives, I’ve started drinking diet Snapple. As I sip from the bottle, I learn a lot from the little tidbits of information inside the Snapple caps, but what I really think about is if the bottle will be worth money in 50 years.
I’ve learned that brain waves can power an electric train, which might be useful to the people who live near the Montauk train station who complain about the constant hum of the idling engines, especially in the summer months. Imagine if they could use their brain waves to move the trains about 5,000 feet west? Ready, all together now, concentrate and move that annoying train.
But I digress. My husband and I recently sold a signed piece of art that the artist had given to us for Christmas one year. The piece was buried in a book in the space under my bookshelves, with a bunch of assorted candles, surf magazines my son has been featured in, old VCR tapes, and books. We sold it for a few thousand dollars and later learned on the Internet that it was worth about 10 times more than that.
It makes we wonder what else we can sell. (Yes, it’s that bad out here in Montauk in winter.) I look at everything now with dollar signs in my eyes. Will the glass bottle with the swan-like S engraved on it be worth thousands of dollars someday the way old glass Coke bottles are?
My children wonder why I save so much and I blame it on my mother, who saved nothing. When I returned home to City Island in the Bronx for a visit after my first summer in Montauk, I found my bedroom stripped of everything I owned and was told it had all been thrown away. She also read my diary that was hidden under my mattress, but that’s another column!
I had some really cool stuff from my hippie days that included long, granny dresses, John Lennon-style sunglasses, a fake fur coat that I wore with my long bell-bottom jeans and a long black cape. I would sell it all on eBay for a chunk of change if I still had it.
I’ve never been a wheeler-dealer. I left that up to my brother, who attempted to sell my little blue sailboat right out from under me when we were teens. Her name was Bluegirl and even though I had no sails or proper rigging for it, my girlfriends and I would row it out on the water to sunbathe in. My mother stopped the sale, but Bluegirl was eventually lost in a storm.
It always surprises me when I read in the paper that something sold for quite a bit of money, something that most of us would think useless. A painting that was purchased at a yard sale that sells for $10,000 is everyone’s dream. I have an old wall clock, floral metal trays bought from estate sales, and a complete set of Waverly novels that were written in the 1800s that I’m holding on to so they’re worth even more when I decide to sell.
I am currently negotiating with a New York City dealer on a book owned by my sister that was written by Theodore Roosevelt and is autographed by him. It’s all about big game hunting, which he took great pleasure in. But it’s disturbing how he describes killing wild animals. I told my sister that if it sells I expect a commission or at the very least a dinner at Gosman’s restaurant when it opens.
My recent sale of the artist’s piece and the price I saw it could have gone for has made me greedy and I’m saving even more stuff. My daughters really give me a hard time. “You never use it,” they claim, while telling me to throw out perfectly good stuff.
What they don’t know is that my grandmother’s elaborately embossed punch bowl from Germany that I was lucky enough to receive after her death will one day be their inheritance. I think it’s worth a lot of money, but then again I’m eyeing Snapple bottles and crushed bracelets, so what do I know?
If I decide to sell the punch bowl sooner, I’ll be moving to an island somewhere warm and will leave the house and all the junk in it to them. That will be their inheritance, and I’ll get even for the mean things they’ve said to me over the years.
Janis Hewitt is a senior writer for The Star.