Why Antiques Roadshow Makes Me Sad

A typical scene at Antiques Roadshows venues.

Retrophiliac that I am, it stands to reason that Antiques Roadshow is one of the television shows I watch often. Still, even while marveling at the wonderful array of treasures that make their way to an appraiser’s table, I also feel a twinge of sadness when hearing remarks such as

“It’s been a part of my family for a long time,” or

“My [deceased] dad bought it at an estate sale and kept it in his garage for 20 years,” or

“I found it in my aunt’s dilapidated house as I was cleaning after she died….”

And so forth and so on.

My brothers and I have nothing of the kind. In leaving our hometown permanently at young ages and never having had a generational family home, we place little value on the houses we lived in throughout the years.

Truth be told, there was little of material value in those houses beyond the tools of cultural literacy my father made sure we had throughout our and his lives. I remember, for instance,

  • collections of classic and popular novels (all of which I devoured);
  • a respectable number of sociological and history books (which I somehow seldom got around to reading);
  • a world globe or two (they fell apart easily in those days);
  • sets of Encyclopedia Britannica and World Book Encyclopedia as well as Webster’s [theoretically] unabridged dictionary;
  • subscriptions to The Crisis, Ebony, Life, and Look;
  • my father’s old and fragile alto saxophone;
  • the 78s and LP albums and their portable record players.

We–and in this I include our mother–didn’t know that we would some day miss and want any of this.

There were also things like the silver watch of her own which my maternal grandmother gave me for a high school graduation gift. I didn’t like or want it because it was too old fashioned to be cute. She told me it was Swiss and that it was silver, neither of which meant a thing to me. I eventually pawned it. Wonder how much it would be/is worth now?

Whatever the current worth in dollars of all these artifacts, it is far less than what it would be worth to have any of them back. All things considered, is it any wonder that, as much as I love the show, Antiques Roadshow does, indeed, make me sad?

Categories: Americana, Human condition, Nostalgia


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