GUEST COLUMN: Walk through the Past: Couple experiences history at ‘Antiques Roadshow’

By JINNY THOMPSON, guest columnist

Attending the “Antiques Roadshow” taping was daunting, but it wasn’t just because of the mass of humanity and the lines so long that by the time attendees reached the instruction tables they felt they had made several old friends.

It wasn’t just the enthusiastic volunteers who practically knocked attendees over in their zest to lead them to their designated locations. It was the blur of items being carted, carried, pulled in wagons and suitcases, piled atop other treasures and packed with blankets, quilts and sheets of plastic to be viewed and valued by the appraisers who by now have attained almost celebrity status after appearing on our TVs for years.

It was also the constant hum of activity of those who didn’t know where they were going and those for whom this process has become commonplace. It was the staff moving with assurance from tables to greet attendees, checking facts on a myriad of laptop computers, conferring with each other, with production people, and generally keeping an eye out for that “one-of-a-kind” item.

It was also because of the presence of cameramen, bright lights and assistants with earbuds and microphones. Some hopeful owners were being interviewed for a possible appearance on the show when it airs during the new season.

Then there was the green room, with its sandwiches, drinking water and makeup artists. Inside the room were monitors showing over-the-shoulder live segments that were being taped for later reviewing and editing. People in the room were signing waivers that would give permission to use their image on TV and swearing as to the authenticity, or at least sincerity, of their stories.

All of this was enough to make a body disoriented, but that was not the full explanation. For I felt an energy in that space that was not of that day. I could of all the loved ones, friends or strangers whose lives had infused some piece of themselves into those inanimate objects. It may have been a mother or a great-grandfather or an ancestor of an unknown person. Their belongings had been passed from hand to hand, shop or yard sale to some appreciative buyer who was intrigued by the past — something that spoke to them from across the years and said, “Take me.”

For whatever reason, people are thrilled by the past — family pride, knowledge of fellow travelers, the promise of possessing a valuable commodity. We save and savor these items.

It may be business for some, but for the majority of the Midwesterners who came to the “Antiques Roadshow” taping, there was a sense of worth because of our past, and because we continue to learn and to take along that which came before.

It enriches our lives, because we are assured by the spirits who touched this piece of history for a time, as we will leave something of our lives for the next person who fleetingly owns these gifts.