Huck Finn has been called the seminal American novel because Huck and Jim are always traveling, looking ahead at the next big thing. At the end of the story, when Huck is offered the comfort of staying at his aunt’s house, he chooses instead to “Light out” for the wilderness, to see what he can see.
We are a people who are always looking ahead and moving towards the next chapter in our lives. After all, our ancestors crossed oceans to arrive on these shores, not sure what they might find once they got here. They were the bold, brave ones who opted out of the security of “Aunt Sally’s house” in order to find out what else was out there.
I come from a line of risk takers. Like yours, my ancestors came over to America by sea, and once they got to New York Harbor, they pressed on to find their destinies.
My mother’s father, her mother, and her older brothers fled Russia at the turn of the century and came to New York. Her father and brothers each established a thriving trade, and each fully embraced the opportunities offered them in the New World. My mother loved telling stories about growing up in a big house in Brooklyn, where my grandfather distilled gin in one of their bathtubs. He became a developer and after World War II, like Huck Finn, he set out for Eastern Kentucky to build sprawling subdivisions for returning vets.
I was still young when he died, but I remember him clearly. He came to see us in Englewood, NJ, where we lived, and I would watch from my bedroom window for the arrival of his long Packard. He smoked enormous cigars, and let me wear the colorful paper labels as rings. My father admired him tremendously, saying that Harry Malkin would be following dreams until he stopped breathing.
It wasn’t until after he died that we learned that he had “married” a woman in Kentucky while he was still married to my grandmother in New York, and had a passel of kids living out there. My mother and her siblings were horrified, but I’m sure my grandfather would have scoffed at their disapproval.
I feel that I must have inherited my grandfather’s drive to keep moving until I can’t. I am really enjoying the learning curve of establishing a retail business. As you know if you have been here more than once, Robert Parker and I are always moving stuff around to a “better” location, and I am constantly adding to the inventory of the shop.
Just yesterday, wonderful Terrell Miller came by with a delivery of more of his whimsical folk art, all made from recycled materials. I moved the whole store around to find a place for each new treasure.
I also got a shipment of absolutely gorgeous earrings by an artist from Bakersville. We met David Trophia when he owned the Crimson Laurel Gallery in Bakersville. He has sold the gallery and is now making jewelry. His earrings combine fragments of butterfly wings sandwiched between thin sheets of mica, which is mined in that area. He insists that the butterflies were “already deceased” when he used them. These must be seen and held up to the light to be appreciated.
Come see me when you can. Who knows when I might just light out for the next big thing?