Tuesday, June 11, 2013


After working on end of the year grades for several hours, my wife was ready to take a break. As a result, we decided to drive “out to the country” to visit the Serendipity Farm-home to Hippie Tom of American Pickers fame.

 I knew (Hippie) Tom over thirty years ago when he was still just Tom. Oh yes, he was eccentric back then, running a pottery shop in Caledonia. He was a friend of my father’s and as I recall, an all-around genuine and talented guy. We jumped in the car at 4:00 pm, set the GPS and were on our way. Hippie Tom had opened his farm up for a four day sale which was to end at 5 pm.

We thought we’d catch the tail end of the sale but when we arrived about 4:50 pm, they were in the process of shutting down. We were told that Hippie Tom had retired for the evening but they graciously allowed us to walk around a bit. The first thought that came to my mind was “overwhelming”. There had to be over a dozen buildings and they were all filled, top to bottom, with stuff. The farm had an almost whimsical feel and in a way, you felt like you had been dropped into another world.  

"Hippie" Amy felt at home as she ran from one building to another. She was mesmerized by the clutter, the bicycle mobile hanging from the trees and the old buildings. She gazed upon the bricks and doors, remembering the time she salvaged the neighbors door from the landfill. When we had our old carriage house torn down, she wanted to salvage each board and if we would have known of Hippie Tom's penchant for collecting, perhaps had found a home for it. Instead, its fate was the same as that door "Hippie" amy once saved-the landfill! However, I soon found out that not all stuff must suffer the same fate if Hippie Tom gets a hold of it first. 

We didn’t want to overstay our welcome so we left as quickly as we had come. And then we saw him…Hippie Tom in all his hippiness on the side of the road. I yelled out, “Are you THE Hippie Tom?” and he acknowledges he was. I told him we went back over thirty years and I had been looking for him for the past fifteen years. You see my son David II broke one of my parent’s prized jars that (Hippie) Tom had made years ago and we always wanted to replace it with another (Hippie) Tom original.

I told Hippie Tom I knew him over thirty years ago (I was in high school at the time) and he looked for a few minutes trying to figure it out. I gave him a hint-mentioning Nichols Motors-and when I told him who my father was, his eyes lit up and a smile came across his face. “Terry! I remember Terry,” he said, “How’s he doing? Boy I can’t believe it…” We chatted for a few minutes and then we were on our way. 

Faded Memories 
“What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.” –Crowfoot 

 As we drove through the Village of Waterford we stopped at a little country cemetery where both my
cousin and a friend from my scouting days were buried.

Forgetting where my cousin had been buried over 25 years ago, we walked through the cemetery, looking for her headstone. I was drawn to the older headstones, many dating to the mid 1800’s. Who were these people buried there? What were there stories? Were they people of means? Were they early settlers to the area? So many questions, so few answers.

Most of the tombstones were faded and worn. Some were toppled over or broke in half. As I walked among these graves, it struck me that we are here for just a moment and then, as hastily as we entered this physical world, we exit it.
As a memorial, our names are engraved upon stone or metal and placed over our remains. Family and friends mourn for a season but in the end, all they are left with are memories, both good and bad.

As I gazed upon these faded markers, names barely legible, I realized that like these headstones that are worn and faded, so become memories of those buried below. And I left wondering if I will be remembered and if so, for how long? Or like these tombstones, will the memories of my life simply fade into eternity…

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