059 Charles Cooper


In 1984 after a four-year stint in the Marine Corps, I moved to Philadelphia to attend college. Originally from Brooklyn, I tend to be drawn to cities rich in history where the old and the new coexist in a common space. When I lived on 13th and Spruce Street, many weekends I enjoyed walking around the city and browsing the local used bookstores and antique shops. I am not a particularly nostalgic person, but I did and still do find these shops stimulating and strangely comforting. They remind me, I guess, of my childhood, my time playing in my grandparent’s basement in Brooklyn as a little boy.

In their basement (in an area off-limits to me), on dusty shelves, in tattered boxes and behind worn picture frames and photo albums, they kept fragments of a mysterious world shrouded in the dust of the past, a world that no longer existed and seemed so disconnected from my life at the time and my understanding of who my grandparents were. I am not exactly sure why I found their collection of old stuff so fascinating. For many years, even up to my young adult life, I wanted to explore every corner of their basement, to dig into every box, to sift through every bin and cobwebbed drawer to find, perhaps, some new discovery, some key that would open the door to who I was and where I came from.

Recently, in Old City on 2nd Street in an antique shop, rummaging through old boxes and bins in a space filled to the brim with shelves of dusty books, prints, drawings and faded photographs and postcards of all kinds, I came across a box filled with small plastic and glass forms that caught my eye. I found these small, simple objects, covered with elegant designs, beautiful. I scooped up a hand full; they felt like perfect objects for the hand to hold. The shape, weight, and the patina of age gave the forms an irresistible aura. I bought five objects from the box for a few dollars, hoping to find for them a new purpose as objects.