Thursday, January 3, 2008

Ram Cat and the Shady Lady

In New York City, prices for things like facials and massages run anywhere from $125 and up. When you are just visiting Seneca, SC, you can get a massage AND a facial for $125 including tip and tax, so even while spending money frivolously, you feel you are saving it. What to do with all that savings? Well, spend it, of course. On other people's discarded dishtowels.

Right around the corner from the day spa, there is a small business district called Ram Cat Alley.* Leta and I make a ritual of spending the morning at the day spa and the afternoon at Ram Cat. Circa 1930, aka the Shady Lady Place, (called so because the people who eat there are the opposite of shady - white gloves, adorable hats, patent leather handbags) serves an excellent post spa lunch, and as you may have guessed, the term "shady lady" refers only to those of us who stumble in after having our eyebrows waxed, our faces masked and our bodies pounded for two hours. We are so relaxed we can hardly order lunch. And yet we do, and we eat, so we can get to the best part of the day, which is Lost and Found.

If you click that link, you will see that we are not, in fact, raiding the lost mitten and scarf bin at the restaurant; Lost and Found is an antiques dealer adjacent to Circa 1930. In addition to serving up beautiful old furniture and tableware at bargain prices (for those of us accustomed to Northeast price tags) they also stock an enormous selection of antique table clothes, table runners, pillow shams, quilts, handkerchiefs, and best of all, dishtowels.

I know. When you picture other people's old dishtowels, you picture a striped bar cloth from Williams Sonoma that someone recently used to mop up cat vomit. No. What I am writing of is 19th Century German homespun - which, if you have never experienced it - is 100% linen and sturdy and beautiful and please forgive me but it is OLD and obviously well loved by its maker and its previous owner and when you see it there, nestled up next to the French lace and the odd Williams Sonoma cat rag, you simply have to rescue it from such a cruel fate.

In similar fashion, you rescue the perfectly useless two-hundred year old handkerchief. Why do you buy someone else's abandoned snot rag? You do it because it is almost entirely made of lace and it only cost $2.

When you find yet another snot rag I mean handkerchief that some sturdy and careworn woman out in the prairie BOTHERED TO CROCHET A BORDER FOR, what are you to do? You buy it, of course.

Oh, and that more recently mass produced linen dish cloth with the geraniums on it? Why should it suffer obscurity at Lost and Found just because it was not made by an overworked mother of ten in a lush German valley? Don't be so mean. It's only $5.

If you think these pictures are under-whelming, I agree. They do not capture even 1% of the magic. If you think I am off my nut for loving these items and purchasing them, consider the number of items you've purchased whose luster and magic fades the moment you sign the credit card slip - and remember that every time I reach into the cabinet and pull out that homespun, I feel actual real live happiness. And so when the time comes to visit Ram Cat and Lost and Found, I do not hold back. This last time, it was a handkerchief run. Next time, who knows?

* In Ram Cat Alley suggests a violence to cats that I don't altogether approve, but it's a great place for lunch and antique shopping with Leta, so we let it pass.


utenzi said...

That's so weird to read, Nina. I was just in Seneca on Tuesday. Twice! I didn't stop for a massage though.

country roads said...

My dad's always buying linens for his antique shop. I don't know if they're good ones or not, though.

LAS said...

I love this! You are right - I was picturing the Williams Sonoma cat vomit rag - ha ha. But I love this!

~RaenWa~ said...

Wow that sounds like a great place to go into & look around you got some very pretty items

nightfly said...

"Ram Cat and the Shady Lady" sounds like the Traveling Wilburys song that was never written.

Nina said...

Utenzi, yes, I am there several times a year (or sometimes several times a month - depending). That's why i was so sure I knew your parents lived in my parents' neighborhood.

Country Roads, almost all antique linens are "good" according to somebody. Does your dad's shop have a website?

LAS, believe it or not, a fifty year old cat vomit rag can sometimes be quite pleasing, too. (I am crazy).

RaenWa, thanks for stopping by! I admit that Ram Cat and Shady Lady day is very girly, but we enjoy it, so we just go with it.

Nightfly, I knew someone would notice the peculiar title on this post. :-) Nice to see you.

Porta Portese said...

Circa 1930 is my mother's restaurant. I showed her your post and she was thrilled. She puts her heart and soul in to Circa. So, it is nice to know that diners enjoy her 'special place'. Jeanie at The Lost and Found is a good friend of mine, as well. She does a fantastic job with the space. We hope to see you again when you are on Ram Cat Alley.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I found your comment a couple of months ago and I was thrilled!!! I am the owner of The Lost and Found Antiques in Seneca, Jeanne van den Hurk. I'm soooooo happy that you enjoyed your trip to Seneca! I love meeting all the different people who come in from everywhere. I love that sense of delight when you find the perfect little treasure to take home! Hope you come back! Jeanne

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