Postcards from the Edge – Pick Up Sticks Style

At Pick Up Sticks, we love stories.  We eat ’em up.  We think stories inspire people to create and do great things.  Here’s an amazing story Sabrina wrote recently:

Take a trip with me and I will prove that life is one big circle.

It all starts with two obsessions.  One, I have a penchant for paper.  Two, I love to snoop.  And I know exactly when the obsessions began – I was 11 years old.

One hot boring summer day, I was snooping around my great grandmother’s chicken coop where we were not allowed to play.  I discovered an old leather suitcase, bursting at the seams with her personal letters, postcards, and scrapbooks from years ago.  It was an amazing treasure, and to my stunned surprise, she gave me the entire lot for my own.  Being from a small town, the best rewards are things that amuse you for months.  I read every single document, word for word.

To this day, I systematically collect and hoard other people’s discarded paper.  I scour yard sales and auctions for boxes of paper, so that I can amass more.  More old letters, more postcards, more old checks, hospital bills, paid mortgages, newspaper clippings!  I always have my eye out for a least one dusty box of assorted paper and there is almost always one at every yard sale.  It will be the lone box sitting in a dark corner of the garage, or next to the trash can.  It’s usually not even priced and is ready to be discarded, but it is most certainly always filled with treasures.  Sometimes it will be full of old appliance instructions, road maps and tickets from trips taken long ago, vintage postcards, photographs, and journals.  And I still read every single word.

So now you know my secret – I’m a paper junkie. Actually I’m a junk paper junkie.

Here’s where the story gets interesting, where I prove to you that life is one big circle.  Around 1995, before Pick Up Sticks Jewelry Company was established, my dad and I were taking his standard drive around the country side.  I was riding shotgun, while he was driving in the slow steady way he always drives, so that he can keep his eyes, not on the road… never on the road.  But instead, he is constantly pivoting his head to see what is on the side of the road. “Well, hot-damn! That looks like one hell of a yard sale going on over there, Sabrina.”

It was a sprawling yard sale that covered a whole parking lot, manned by an old fart who looked like an anorexic Santa Clause.  We got out and I fell back onto my proven system of scanning for the discarded paper.  There it was, under one of the tables. a paper Safeway grocery sack full and running over with nothing but used postcards.  A bonanza of colors that almost made my eyes bleed.  No price. “How much for this sack?” I asked.  Scrawny Santa said, “One dollar.”

Every postcard in that sack was from a different corner of the world but they were all addressed to one woman.  What a woman this must be, I thought at the time… she must be one hell of a person to have so many friends desperate to keep in touch with her no matter how far away she is.  Again, I read every word.

Five years later, when Glena and I set up at our first wholesale jewelry show, we knew the sack of old postcards would be the perfect backdrop for jewelry display.  And since then, we have used several of these postcards at every single wholesale show.  They get a lot of attention.  Sometimes we’ll have a slow moment in the booth, and over the years I have amused myself with re-reading the postcards, and imagining the woman who received them.

Fast forward 15 years to May of 2010.  Bruce and I decided to take a road trip to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico.  He had never been there and I needed a day in the hot springs.  It was the perfect kitchy destination for both of us.

We dropped by one of the local establishments, and noticed a business card for a reflexologist taped to the counter.  Her name seemed so familiar.  I have a really hard time remembering names, but I had a really good feeling from the sound of this name.  I just couldn’t put a face with it.  The man at the counter told me to walk down the street a few blocks to the Charles Hotel, where there would be an advertizing postcard for the reflexologist with her picture on it.  My curiosity was making me crazy. 

I had to place this woman in my mind.  When I saw her picture, there was no immediate recognition. None whatsoever.

But as I stood there, puzzled, I realized that the name of the person on the business card is Shelby Schue, the same name of the woman on all of the postcards I bought back in 1995.  I started to ramble all of this to my husband.  The woman working behind the counter of the Charles Hotel, snapped her head up and said, “Shelby Schue is my best friend – you have got to call her and tell her your story.”

I was scared to call this stranger, whose mail I had been reading, on whose life I had been eavesdropping, whose discarded mail we had been using… I was afraid she would think I was a total crackpot.  Or maybe I secretly hoped she would think I was a crackpot and just hang up on me.  But she answered, and I told her my story.  I told her we had been taking her postcards all over the country for years.  She listened and laughed and was totally delighted and she wanted to meet me.  So, I made an appointment for reflexology in her home.

Sabrina and Shelby - May 2010

Now listen, I have to tell you that I have never really liked a massage.  I have never enjoyed someone rubbing my feet – but this woman was so enchanting and accomplished, I am desperate to keep in touch with her no matter how far away she is.  I understand now all those postcards finding their way to her. And I think the postcards then finding their way to us and me finding my way to her was a perfect example of how life gives you gifts over and over and over, when you least expect them.  You just have to keep your eyes open.  That’s how we see things at Pick Up Sticks.

If you’re ever in our booth at market, take a minute to read Shelby’s mail.  Or better yet, get yourself to Truth or Consequences, New Mexico and get the best dam foot rub of your life.

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Published in: on June 30, 2010 at 9:24 am  Comments (1)  

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. ¡What a lovely story!… ¿Coincidence or fate?… A big hug from Colombia


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