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2004-07-17 - 12:12 p.m.

Today’s the Day

by Joan Callaway

When I opened Tarika, I scoured the antique stores for props for the upscale women’s clothing store it was to become. It was my good fortune to happen upon a wholesale antique store in Benicia, where I found: two French faux bamboo armoires with mirrored doors, a pewter-looking English iron crib that had been stripped of paint, a painted English nursery rocking horse, a large floor-standing bird cage, a Thonet bentwood double-chair table, and an enormous 99-drawer apothecary, purportedly from Austria.

The apothecary, measuring 116 3/8” long and 95” high with 99 drawers of varying sizes,stripped of its paint, showed only an occasional remnant of the vile hospital greens paint inside one of the drawers. We removed the mostly broken wooden knobs and the metal numbers on the drawers, stained it, and added white porcelain knobs, replacing the numbers. I kept the two parts separated in the store, with the bottom part acting as a counter behind the jewelry case counters. Folded sweaters and/shirts filled the top cubbies. It was not until I retired that they became one again.

When my daughter, Marci, and her family moved to Davis, where she would complete her residency at U.C.Davis Medical Center, there were few houses for rent that were suitable for a family. In our search for one, however, we found a three-bedroom duplex that Ed and I decided would be almost perfect for us, so we moved Marci and Peter into the home where Marci had spent her teen years; Ed and I moved into the duplex. I closed my last store, co-founded a non-profit to benefit 12 agencies that served the mental health needs of our county. All of the props and equipment from my store went to start-up the consignment shop of the non-profit. I managed the shop until it took on a life of its own; at which time I officially retired.

One day the apothecary was no longer needed at All Things Right and Relevant, which is the name of the consignment shop, and delivery to our house was planned. Not the house in which we were living, but the house we anticipated going back to when Marci finished her residency. The picture shows how it looks in the Elmwood Drive house.

However, by the time the residency was completed, Marci and Peter had grown into the neighborhood and the house; they asked if we would consider selling the house to them. I needed to have my knees replaced and was destined to have a couple of foot surgeries, so moving back into a two-story house didn’t seem practical. I immediately called a realtor friend, who showed me four houses.

Clever wife that I am, I took Ed to a real fixer-upper first – its backyard faced a two-story apartment complex full of students – nowhere anyone in their right mind would want to live unless desperate. “It has potential,” said I. The next one was somewhat of an improvement, but with a rather strange floor plan and a brilliant orange kitchen! Ed said nothing. The third was a winner! Six bedrooms, a small living room, but a wonderful great room/dining/kitchen, completely remodeled – someone had already done the fixin’-up.

All of our furniture was moved except the apothecary and the baby grand piano. Marci had made me promise years ago that if I ever decided to get rid of the piano on which she had learned to play, she wanted it. As a toddler, her favorite place to read and play with her dolls was under the piano, so she had an emotional attachment to it.

Marci and Peter, in the throes of remodeling and expanding the house built in 1971, now need to bring us the apothecary. Today’s the day! Max and Marci started bringing drawers over this morning. We had thought we might try to sell it, but I’m beginning to think I have an emotional attachment, too. I remember all those years at Tarika, having every drawer assigned: paperclips in drawer #3, rubber bands - #5, staples - #6, etc., an alphabetical list hanging from one end for easy reference.

The baby crib, which in Tarika days held stuffed toys and quilts, now acts as a potting table – my flowerbed! All of my grandchildren have outgrown the English rocking horse…and I never had any really good use for the birdcage. They’re both out cluttering up our garage. Anyone want ‘em? Today’s the day!

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