The world is an odd place.
We’ve all heard the saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” And it’s true. I was recently added to a group on social media about strange secondhand finds. I love this group, and I hate it.
I am often envious of people’s luck in finding something amazing — like a signed Gary Larson strip of “The Far Side,” a bag of shredded currency from the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City’s Money Museum, a stuffed doll of Mork from Ork, a Beetlejuice cookie jar or a Cheshire Cat birdhouse.
And I hate the group when I think “just one more picture” as I am trying to fall asleep at night.
One of the things I enjoy the most about going to thrift stores, antique malls or second-hand shops is the wonderful, unusual things that can be found.
A few years back, I sent a picture to a friend in the military of a flamethrower for sale at an antique shop. “IT WORKS!” said the bright orange sticker in the case. Well, I’m glad, because what would a person do with a nonoperational flamethrower after all?
The oddities displayed on this page simply boggle my imagination. One poster left an old cookie tin on the shelf at the store where she found it, but took a picture of the note that cautioned it was cursed, and buying it for less than $3 would inflict the curse upon the purchaser.
Strange that she would leave behind such a conversation piece. She could show it to guests when their chairs are levitating from the dinner table.
There’s often a picture of an item that’s an absolute mystery to the folks who found it — like a bootjack. And often, something that’s an absolute mystery as to why it is for sale and who would buy it, like a Wichita Falls, Texas, store with a “beautiful wooden limb cut by real beavers” for the low price of $49.
Geez, I might head out into the swamp and start a side business selling these local “treasures” to folks online.
Thousands and thousands of posts of weird objects are on the internet for perusal. People have found a toaster shaped like Darth Vader’s head, a bad painting of the Last Supper in a frame made out of combs painted silver, artwork made out of real human hair, PeeWee’s Play House trading cards, a huge amount of ugly clothes, creepy clowns and cats — so many cats.
Cats on shirts, cats on shoes, paintings of Victorian era cats dressed as people of that age, knitted sweaters of cats, a tinfoil hat for a cat, furniture for cats, Christmas ornaments with cats on them — you get the idea.
I even saw a picture of a sweatshirt with two fists on it, with letters tattooed across the knuckles — CAT LADY.
And I’m not sure what it is that makes children like dolls, but it seems many adults find them unsettling, or downright creepy. Dolls that move, blink, walk or cry seem to have the most comments on the page, usually saying something like “kill it with fire.”
Some of the finds are from users in other countries, and I find amusing that the detritus of consumerism is similar on foreign shores. For the most part, these are things anyone needs. These are tchotchkes, the sort of things one keeps around as a conversation starter.
And I love that people are finding it fun to track down something strange enough to be approved by the page’s moderator as worthy of the weirdness.
What I like the most about the page is the camaraderie. There are more than a million members. Often someone will post about how they’ve been hospitalized and needed a laugh, and a friend or family member showed them the page. And the comments that come in after that are almost entirely positive and uplifting.
It seems this group of self-proclaimed thrifting weirdos have the right idea in life. Care for one another. Find common ground and celebrate it.
Even if that common ground is laughing at squirrel underpants at the thrift store.
(Marcie Schellhammer is the Era’s assistant managing editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)