Antiques I have known. (Eleanor OíRear and the Wilderness Trail) A Book Review.

Published in 1961 by Fredrick Fell, Inc. N.Y.C. this is an interesting and moving account by Corinne Griffith of her antique collecting experiences. The chapter on "Southern Accent" includes the following typical account:

Eleanor O'Rear and the Wilderness Trail

"After tea I insisted that Sergeant Jarvis stop at the Wilderness Trail Antique Shop, the one pointed out to me by Louise the previous day.

I stepped up three brick steps to the entrance door. Inside the shop held everything - from simply everything to simply everything - and as I stepped in, a very lovely young lady rose from a small spindle-back pine rocker. "Iím Mrs. OíRear" she said and smiled. "This shop was left me by my mother."

"Iím just looking," I explained to the lovely Mrs. OíRear "Iím not going to buy a thing." - a remark which seemed to impress the lovely Mrs. OíRear not at all. "This little comb-back rocker," she pointed to the one she had just vacated, with seven pine spindles forming the back and an additional set of five pine spindles on top of the back, "was photographed in the Stony Lonesome House and will be published in this coming May issue of the Ladies Home Journal."

"The Ladies Home Journal!" I was surprised. "What a coincidence! The Journal published my cookbook, Eggs I have Known" I told Mrs. OíRear. but again Mrs. OíRear seemed only unimpressed. "So, out of loyalty to the Journal..." And that unnecessary sense of loyalty just cost me one hundred and twenty five dollars.

... Above the square door frame was a large round clock about sixteen inches across, with big black hands and enormous numerals, obviously handmade. The frame around the clock, about three inches wide, still boasted some once upon a time white paint and gold trim that was grey and worn looking now.

"Thatís an odd looking clock," I observed and would have passed on, but as Mrs. OíRear glanced upwards, I detected a look of reverence in her eyes.

"That clock once graced the Grand Saloon of the famous Robert E. Lee steamboat when it was first built," she stated and her eyes fairly glowed. "My mother purchased it at the auction of Captain Cannonís estate at Midway, Kentucky."

"Captain Cannon?"

"John Cannon was Captain of the Robert E. Lee. He was a Kentuckian, a former Frankfort man. The clock was bought by him when he first took command of the Lee." And I raised my eyes in reverence, too. "Captain Cannon was living in retirement in Midway, Kentucky when the end came. Many articles from the Lee were sold among his effects. This clock was considered the most valuable, historically."

"When was the Roger E. Lee built?"

"I donít remember the exact date. Both the Lee and the clock are over a hundred years old. The records are all packed away in Motherís effects. But Iíll get them for you if you are interested..."

"Interested? Iíve got to have that clock if I have to build a steamboat to house it!"

"I have a paper here," and Mrs. OíRear unfolded a yellow page of an old newspaper. She read: "The famous race between the steamboats, The Natchez and The Robert E. Lee began June 30, 1870, at New Orleans. The Lee reached its destination, St. Louis, over six hours ahead of the Natches!" And again Mrs OíRearís eyes fairly glowed. "The race was so publicized," she continued, "(although both captains denied they were racing) that hundreds of thousands of dollars were bet, won and lost, both here and abroad." Mrs. OíRear handed me the yellowed paper. "This belongs to you, now. And this, also." And she handed me a signed affidavit confirming all that she had said. "Do you know one of the ways they knew that The Robert E. Lee had beaten the Natchez by over six hours?"

"No, I havenít the faintest idea."

"They timed it with this clock."

Then Mrs. OíRear said, "What are you going to do with it?"

Seems Mrs. OíRear can ask silly questions, too.