Off we went to Vernon, California to discover what turned out to be one of the most fascinating places I’ve been in quite a while – Silverado Salvage & Design. This 16,000 square foot warehouse is just incredible and as I meandered throughout the cavernous structure, I was immediately sucked back in time. Surely this is a rich playground for the inventive mind of any of us storytellers.
Engulfed in tons of well-organized used wood, sewing machines from the early 1900’s and every kind of old farm tool you can imagine, I soon found a few rusted out machines that I never even knew existed. The farmers of those days must have been incredibly strong or had one sturdy horse at their disposal to be able to actually use this weighty equipment.
Old pieces of furniture, wine presses, doorknobs, windows and more were tucked into every corner of the building. A well-preserved, cloth-covered baby buggy rolled into the entrance and made me wonder what had ever happened to the infant it once lovingly carried. I envisioned a housewife of years gone by painstakingly stitching her children’s clothing on that old treadle driven sewing machine. Where did those aged and intricate iron gates once lead to? Was it a garden, a mansion, a government building? Whose fireplace had the intricately cut wooden corbels once graced and what juicy secrets had they been privy to? Were the children who had long ago played with rusty fire trucks and cars still alive or had their toys outlived them? There was so much to see, so much to feel, and a ton of things to capture the imagination.
Sometime during our walk about I came upon a collection of old wooden shipping crates and was overjoyed. Our youngest sons’ birthday was coming up and he had wanted one of these to use as a coffee table. Reinvigorating this chest would be a great project for father and son. I selected the wooden crate I wanted and asked the knowledgeable shop keeper where it was from originally.
“The metal tab on the front is written in Hungarian, I believe,” was his response.
What? I’m Hungarian. My grandfather immigrated here from Budapest, Hungary as a child. And inside I found an ancient packing slip written totally in Hungarian. This was meant to be – a connection to my family’s past. I would later take the packing slip home, translate it into English and laminate it to remain within the trunk forever. I discovered that the trunk had once carried gas masks which left me a little unsettled and wondering how I really felt about taking it home. Either way, the trunk would soon grace my son’s living room after its lengthy travel here; minus, of course, any gas masks.
This store hosts some of the most creative and imaginative employees ever. I overheard designers talking about how one might revitalize an old sink, a chunk of brass, a stained glass window. Creativity flows within this shop with knowledgeable staff I’d like to take home and just listen to. And a few had rather quirky names that I quickly added to my Little Book O’ Names I carry with me for future insertion into a story or two. I found it inspiring that the owner is such an affable, intelligent man who demonstrates a real passion for revitalizing what others might just throw away.
My husband found some very old wood which, I must confess, looked just like old wood to me. However, after talking with the trained craftsman it was clear that this wood had a lot more living to do. The two men put their heads together and a plan was quickly launched. This wood would soon be reincarnated into shelves and a desktop and my husband could not have been happier.
I now have three problems to confront. Where will I use the unusual names I collected, what story shall I write first and how are we ever going to get the heavy shelving and desktop upstairs and into my husband’s office. Three good problems to have!
If you get a chance, I encourage you to stop by Silverado Salvage & Design and be sure to bring your imagination with you! (4625 East 50th Street in Vernon, California)