If any of you are fans of television shows such as American Pickers, Antiques Roadshow or Pawn Stars, you know that they highlight the best of old America. These shows celebrate the history of our country by honoring items from past generations, decades and even centuries.
Whether it’s an old transistor radio from the 50s, maybe Grandma’s well-used but rare ceramic pitcher or even a rare 1910 Ford Model T Coupe. While most of these shows focus on the bartering of these items, which in some instances can leave the seller quite happy or as equally disappointed, there is another side to the business of collectibles and antiques: restoration.
Webster’s Dictionary defines “restore” the following way: “to put or bring something back into existence or use,” followed by a second definition of “to return (something) to an earlier or original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.”
The process of having a collectible item restored can parallel the experience of remodeling a home. Communicating your vision, collaborating with the designer and being confronted with setbacks and delays can make one question not only the decision to embark on the actual project, but one’s true sanity as well.
The Branson Auto Museum is a can’t-miss spot on the strip in Branson, Mo.
Having a husband who is a classic car enthusiast (and owner) made this tourist spot a definite must when we travelled to this southern touristy spot a few years ago. Not only did we walk away having seen some really cool cars, but we also walked away as proud new owner of a rusty, squeaky and dirty 1962 AMF fire engine pedal car.
Somehow, one of the two of us (I won’t mention which one, but feel free to guess) envisioned a restoration of this pint-sized pile of old metal.
AMF is actually American Machine and Foundary, founded in 1900 to manufacture cigarette, baking and stitching machines. Eventually moving into producing bowling equipment and bowling centers, they made pedal cars for only two years, 1962-63.
Besides my husband, who else could possibly deem this rusted mess worth salvaging?
A likely answer would be Rick Dale, owner of Rick’s Restoration in Las Vegas. He also happens to be the host of a successful show, American Restoration, on the History Channel. If there was ever a David Copperfield of collectible restorations, it is Rick Dale. His knowledge, attention to detail and precision is unmatched.
Most importantly, Dale possesses vision. So, the pedal car went on a road trip.
More than two years and a shameful amount of money later, we are now the again-proud owners of a restored 1962 AMF fire-engine pedal car. Like a shabby, old Victorian home is taken down to its studs and revitalized, the pedal car shared the same experience in its journey from old to new.
When purchased, it looked like something that had been forgotten for decades in someone’s dark and cold basement. Now, it shines with the true fire-engine red paint color it so fittingly deserves, along with a working fireman’s bell and wooden ladder. It’s easy to imagine that the way it looks now is the way that it looked the day that it came off of the assembly line at AMF more than 50 years ago, or when it was perhaps a delightful gift for a young child one Christmas morning, many years ago.
As we received the pedal car last week, fully crated, restored and paid in full, we had no way of knowing that our visions of what it could look like would be surpassed.
How is it possible that something can on the surface be unappealing, but underneath have strength and longevity? Do we discount the potential of something, or someone, because of how they present to us? Can we each look beyond the appearance of something or someone, and see potential?
I must admit that in the case of the pedal car, I was short-sighted in these regards. Perhaps my husband shared the belief of David Hume, who wrote, “Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them.”
Until next time, be well.
Diane Bigler is a licensed clinical social worker who lives in Platte City with her family. She may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.