Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

Every woman’s story begins, naturally, with her
mother…whether beloved or despised, emulated or tolerated, we have only to look
to our Mom’s past to see some version of our own futures.


The Ladies are Posing 1963 Original Vintage Photo from MeetTheInLaws 

In my case, a soft
spot for dreamy alcoholic men, a deeply spiritual nature, and an unswerving,
acquisitive love of beautiful things were not only indicated, but genetically preordained.

This blog is my attempt to combine the latter 2 qualities
(but no promises that #1 won’t occasionally intrude), as I share stories and
contemplations about beauty, collecting and selling lovely old things, and of
course, the meaning of life!

I was raised in rural 1960s southern Michigan, in one of those quaint small towns
with red brick streets downtown, surrounded by a ring of factories, and further
out, sprawling old farms. We lived right outside the city limits in an old
farmhouse that was built from the bones of an old barn. My mom’s decorating
tastes ran toward American Colonial at the time, with the occasional
unfortunate foray into modern design—the hideous multicolored wall-to-wall carpeting
that disguised (and possibly inspired) our aging beagle’s frequent barfing springs
to mind.

A Detroit
native, Mom married Dad, moved to his tiny hometown, and became passionate, for
some unexplained reason, in her pursuit of antique wagon wheels. She had
visions of propping them against the house, or painting them white and building
a rock garden around them. Quaint reminders of pioneers and movement…simple,

MarySirmon_wagon wheel

Mary Sirmon – Wagon Wheel – Landscape Series

Dad was a factory rat who liked to get out of town on his days
off, so we frequently jumped in our huge Buick to visit various relatives on weekend
excursions. Deeply unhappy for most of his life, he loved to drink and he loved
to drive, and unfortunately for us, pedestrians, and anyone else on the road,
he often indulged in his loves at the same time. He also developed a perverse
pleasure in denying my mother’s desire for wagon wheels.

Every time we’d pass an antique shop or flea market, those
wheels would glitter like the Holy Grail, and she’d pop up in her seat and wail,
“Wagon wheels, right there! Stop! Hon, pull over!” Himself the original Wagon
Master, “Hon’s” train stopped for no one, and certainly not for a frivolous
thing like an old wheel or a wife…

Joe Squires_Wagon Wheel
Joseph Squires – Wagon Wheel Motel, Cuba, Missouri

Gripping the steering wheel and stomping on
the gas pedal, he’d snort with glee and speed by, and, I’m ashamed to admit, we
kids joined him in belittling her longing…we spent all our summer weekends in
this way, pee-bound and cranky, and he never once stopped.

When his health faded, he faded, and she slid right into the
driver’s seat without a second thought. My brother and I just as easily slid into hers: “Wagon wheels,
Mom, right there! Stop, they’re right there!” To our amazement,
she never even slowed down, much less stopped…she’d just glance over at the frail
sleeping bundle that was now our dad, smile her sad smile, and gripping the steering wheel a little tighter,
roll on by…

KathyStanczak wagon wheel 

death valley wagon wheel by kathy stanczak

About susabellabrownstein

I'm a fanatic about elegant old things, love to refurbish and reuse, and once I do all that, will finish the screenplay that's been echoing in my brain for the past several years!
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3 Responses to Rolling, Rolling, Rolling

  1. Great blog! Love the Wagon Wheel Stories…Could be a great book, also! Can’t wait for the next one!

  2. Keith T. says:

    Very nice, Sue.

  3. Leona says:

    Great story.
    I am going to follow you. I haven’t started my list yet…but will be adding that to my blog soon.
    my blog is

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