Do You Have What It Takes to be Indiana Jones?

Collectors Out On a Mission

by C. Dianne Zweig


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This may come as a surprise to you, but I am convinced that   those of  us who will cross rivers, climb mountains and leap from railroad cars to find the objects of our desire have much in common with Harrison Ford’s character in the Indiana Jones series. Obsessed collectors are a tough breed and  could fill in for Ford at a moment’s notice. Perhaps it is time for Spielberg to  recognize our skills and add some of  us to his  short list for future adventure movies.  

 I have been thinking about how  similar we are to Indiana Jones  since Raiders of the Lost Ark hit the big screen, but have not dared to share my suspicions until now. What has propelled me to spill the beans? Yes you are correct.....it is the recent release of  Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  The confidence to talk about this subject is a result of finding myself   smack in the midst of all the movie action this past summer when   Harrison Ford and Steven Spielberg whizzed right by me while shooting on location in New Haven, Connecticut . How lucky was I that my daughter had just moved into an apartment inches away from “the set”.    

 I battled the crowds to watch  with amazement as Spielberg and Ford  buzzed  about  the Elm city  in one of those  “director type trucks” with cameras aboard.  From noon to dusk, I joined other mesmerized  fans  watch  in excitement as vintage cars and buses raced through Chapel Street , New Haven .  For me, a retro enthusiast I can’t tell you how cool  it was to see all of  the  storefronts  on  Chapel  converted to look like shops right out of the 1950s. My favorite was Woolworths because the display window    resembled the  cover of my first book, Hot Kitchen & Home Collectibles of the 30s, 40s, 50s. Had I known  Spielberg  was “doing Woolworth” I would have gladly sent him a copy of my   book  for reference. And if Spielberg   had  called me,  I would have been happy to supply him  with a few  vintage shoe lace boxes and some moth tins for his dimestore window.

So let me return to the heart of the matter, why I am confident to say that all of us who think about tag sales 24-7  and  scale tall building in search of  someone else’s junk  are  well suited to understudy for Ford..  Like  Indiana Jones,  we  approach “the hunt” with  passion, excitement and boundless energy.   When bitten by the collecting bug we dash out of the house and get lost for hours and sometimes days  in our mission to find some hidden treasure that we must have. Nothing and I mean absolutely nothing will get in our  way. Extremes in weather, hunger pains, full bladders, flat tires, you name it …nothing will interfere with getting to a morning  estate sale or charity flea market. True collectors are determined and brave warriors with tremendous zeal and resilience. 

I’ll ne upfront with you,  when we are called to duty  we really should have someone else driving  us around because  we  can be a dangerous lot on the road.  We  have super hero vision and can spot a tag sale three blocks away and will do absolutely nothing short of cutting off six cars across three lanes to get there. Once the tag sale radar has been activated we race to the finish line as if there was a fire or medical emergency. Our   sixth sense for picking up clues that there are approaching flea markets,  garage sales and auctions is phenomenal to witness.

But somehow this heightened sensitivity to our environment falls apart when it comes to the weather I have watched  friends leave their coats, hats and gloves in their car    while they stand on line in the  bitter cold  to be let in to a dynamite estate sale. When  the pot of gold is so close, what’s a little frostbite here and there?  Let’s face it, we are simply too excited to take the time to dress for the weather. Just as scary to  report is what happens to relentless  buyers in the summer months. How many times have you witnessed a fellow collector overcome with heat exhaustion trekking through the hay covered grounds of an  outside antique show or  flea market?  Otherwise sane people can be seen dripping with sweat, red as a lobster  making just one more purchase before they keel over.

Weather is not the only  hurdle obsessed collectors need to overcome. Equally challenging is how to survive long periods of time without food and water.
How many of you, like me,  run out the door in the wee hours of the morning passing up breakfast  for a  chance to catch a  fabulous  moving sale? This is where a  few mints you find in your pocket .or  a piece  of  the stale bagel you forgot to throw way the day before saves the day.   And  ditto what I said about breakfast when it comes to stopping for  lunch.   Who among us will  interrupt a juicy  garage sale or a  tri-level  multi-dealer antique store for a Turkey Panini. and a bottle of Spring water.  When  we are out  on a chase  we really are way  too consumed with  our prize to worry about such trivial matters as food and beverage!  Did I just write that?  If we should discover ourselves getting a little light headed we know to dig deep into our  Fanny packs or pocketbooks to find a hard candy  or piece of gum.

 And I’ll point out one more curious trait I have  also noticed about  “hunter types”. Just like Indiana Jones,  when we are out  exploring aka “ junking”,  we rarely need to stop for a bathroom break either. I have two theories on this finding. (1)  as  “ antique warriors” we eat and drink very little while out on a mission  and we  simply don’t produce much in the way of fluids and . (2) as  devoted collectors we train ourselves to wait until dark to use the facilities because we already know from past experience not to expect to find a “real”  bathroom when  we are in  the middle of a cow field antiquing or  in a cave, or  dump, or  attic  treasure hunting. 

In conclusion, I believe I have made my point. If  we can  brave the cold and the heat,  survive without food, water and bathroom breaks and also carry six overstuffed shopping bags all at one time we have what it takes to be Indiana Jones!