Life is an adventure. Mine certainly is. It will be until I die. Even then, who knows? While most people are retired by my age (I am 69), I plan to keep working into my 80s or, God willing, into my 90s.
Susie Barbour, a former KDKA radio personality and friend, is responsible for my “life is an adventure” approach to living. When I learned that I had been selected to host HGTV’s “Collector Inspector,” Susie said, “Treat the first year as an adventure. Go and have fun. Do not worry about a second season. Enjoy the moment.” I followed Susie’s advice. A second and third season of “Collector Inspector” and two hour-long specials followed.
In June 2006, my wife Linda accepted the position of provost and vice president of academic affairs at Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn. Linda and I have deep Pennsylvania roots. I grew up in Hellertown (just south of Bethlehem); Linda’s home was Pottstown. Prior to our marriage, she lived in Wyomissing (Reading). We lived in the former Vera Cruz (Pa.) Elementary School, headquarters for Rinker Enterprises, before our move to Connecticut. We rented a townhouse in Brookfield, while maintaining our residence in Vera Cruz. Our plan was for Linda to spend two or three years at Western and then retire to our home in Pennsylvania.
Adventures often take unexpected turns. Three years became four. Four turned into five. Once I realized we would be in Connecticut longer than initially anticipated, I embarked on a new adventure. I went back to school, earning a Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University in January 2010. The degree was my ticket to returning to the college/university classroom, allowing me to share my love of writing with my students. I taught my first English composition course at Norwalk (Conn.) Community College in the fall 2009 semester. This 2010 fall semester, I am teaching eight courses: three COM (Public Speaking) and one ENG103 (Composition) at Lincoln College of New England, two ENG101 (Composition) at Norwalk Community College, one ENG110 (Writing Lab) at Southern Connecticut State University, and serving with six other faculty in teaching HON398 (Wunderkammer of Knowledge: Exploring the hidden spirit behind science, art, creativity and rational thought). Linda thinks my teaching adventure “has gotten out of hand.” She is correct.
I spend most of my time driving from one location to another, in the classroom or grading papers. Of course, all this is in addition to my continuing commitments in the antiques and collectibles field, from personal appearances and consulting to writing “Rinker on Collectibles” and hosting WHATCHA GOT?, my nationally syndicated antiques and collectibles call-in radio show.
I think of our Connecticut adventure as a safe adventure. The drive to Vera Cruz is two and one-half hours. Since we retain our home/school, my collections and reference library remain accessible. The good news is that our Brookfield townhouse presents me with an additional 1,800 square feet for my collections.
Danbury/Brookfield is familiar territory. The distance from New York City is the same as to Vera Cruz. Brimfield and the Hartford paper show are closer, but Renninger’s Extravaganza and Adamstown continue to be within comfortable reach. I strayed, but not too far.
Eighteen months ago, Linda and I made the decision to put our home/school in Vera Cruz on the market. It has been under contract several times but has not sold. While the packing process is nearing completion, the failure of the building to sell has allowed me to keep postponing the tough “what are you going to do with all your stuff?” decision.
It is decision time. Linda has accepted the position of provost and executive vice president of academic affairs at Davenport University in Grand Rapids, Mich. We are moving to Grand Rapids in January 2011; the exact date has yet to be determined. We are still in the process of looking for a place to live.
This will be another grand adventure. Linda has only lived, with the exception of our four and one-half years in Connecticut, in eastern Pennsylvania. I lived in St. Louis for three years, 1963-1966, while a graduate student at Washington University. I returned “home” (eastern Pennsylvania) as soon as my studies ended.
Linda and I are excited. Professionally, Linda has an opportunity to help Davenport grow, the reverse of her situation at Western, where the Connecticut state budget crisis is likely to result in severe program cuts. While I plan to continue my new teaching career, I cannot wait to explore the antiques and collectibles scene in the upper Midwest.
Grand Rapids is within easy driving distance of the Allegan Flea Market and the outdoor Ann Arbor antiques and collectibles market. An Internet search produced a list of dozens of antiques malls within a 50-mile radius.
Living in Vera Cruz spoiled me. I could drive to New York in less than two hours, Boston in five hours, Philadelphia in an hour and 20 minutes, Baltimore in three hours, Washington, D.C., in four hours, and Pittsburgh in four and one-half hours. It was quicker to drive than to fly. Moving to Danbury shortened the New England drive, but only added one to two hours to the other drives. Grand Rapids is a 10- to 11-hour drive from our “home.”
Eastern provincialism is a disease. I grew up thinking the west started in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. I received a rude awaking when I arrived in St. Louis and realized I could not drive to California and back in a weekend.
After studying maps, I came to the conclusion that Grand Rapids is a great location. Chicago, Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland are within a two- to three-and-one-half-hour drive. Chicago and St. Charles are synonymous in my mind. I have not attended the Kane County Flea Market since Helen Robinson passed away. I need to remedy this. Further, I never attended the toy show held at the same location. It is on my to-do list once Linda and I settle in Grand Rapids.
Lansing is an hour east, with Jackson less than an hour south from there. Kalamazoo is an hour south, with Battle Creek less than an hour to the east. The shores of Lake Michigan are less than a 45-minute drive, something Linda is looking forward to exploring. Our weekends are going to be busy.
Attending the Milwaukee circus parade is one of my life goals. The 2010 parade was canceled for lack of sufficient funds. Civic leaders are discussing holding the parade every few years rather than annually. Milwaukee is within easy driving distance of Grand Rapids. When the next parade is held, I plan to be there.
Friendships are at the heart of collecting. The move to Grand Rapids means I will be able to spend more time with my Midwest friends. Al and Sue Klein Badgade regularly antique in Michigan. I plan to meet them whenever I can. Tim Bos of Bos Auctions & Appraisal Services in Jackson,Mich., completed the course of studies at my Institute for the Study of Antiques and Collectibles. We have kept in touch over the years. I look forward to spending more time with him.
Reality dampens enthusiasm. Linda already is worried about what will we take with us, what we will leave behind, and where and what we will have to sell, giveaway or abandon. I tell her that her issues are minor compared to what I am facing in respect to the collections and library resources in Vera Cruz. The move to Grand Rapids is not a move to the next town over. It is major.
Downsizing is staring me in the face. I am prepared not to be the one who blinks first. I am ready for this adventure as well. I will share my experiences in future columns.
Meanwhile, Grand Rapids, here we come. Life is not only an adventure. It is a hoot.
Rinker Enterprises and Harry L. Rinker are on the Internet. Check out Harry’s Web site..
You can listen and participate in Harry’s antiques-and-collectibles radio call-in show “Whatcha Got?” on Sunday mornings between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. Eastern Time. It streams live on the Genesis Communications Network.
“Sell, Keep Or Toss? How To Downsize A Home, Settle An Estate, And Appraise Personal Property” (House of Collectibles, an imprint of the Random House Information Group), Harry’s latest book, is available at your favorite bookstore and via Harry’s Web site..
Harry L. Rinker welcomes questions from readers about collectibles, those mass-produced items from the 20th century. Selected queries will be answered on this site. Harry cannot provide personal answers. You can e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Only e-mails containing a full name and mailing address will be considered. Please indicate that these are questions for WorthPoint.
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