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Treasure Hunting

Posts tagged: collecting

Object of Affection: Susanna Baylon’s special invitation


    Some of us hold onto a few bits a pieces of paper for sentimental reasons, but most of the countless notes, forms, to-do lists, etc. that seem to bombard us are quickly discarded. Still, who hasn’t thought about one or two things with regret, realizing too late that what had seemed disposable at the time was actually a paper fortune, hinting at the future?


    Susanna Baylon, former KXLY news anchor, is unabashedly sentimental.


    “Almost everything on display in my home has a story,” she says.    


    To illustrate this, Baylon points to a framed piece of paper hanging on her dining room wall. It is a 2001 invitation to the first Diamonds and Diva’s gala. The fundraising event for the now-shuttered Spokane Opera was held in the lobby of the Davenport Hotel, which was undergoing an extensive renovation before its grand reopening.


    Although she didn’t know it at the time, it was also an invitation to a new life.


    Baylon was Master of Ceremonies for the gala. She’d invited a male friend to go with her and the tall man across the table had brought his mother to the Black Tie event.


    “I thought, ‘What a nice guy,’” Baylon says, “But that was it.”


    They went their separate ways that night but the next time their paths crossed, she remembered him from New Year’s Eve. And this time there was a spark. Eventually, Dean Fries contacted her and they had their first date at Rockwood Bakery, near Manito Park. Surrounded by the rich raspberry-colored walls, romance bloomed.


    Almost exactly one year after their New Year’s Eve introduction, Baylon ran across the printed invitation and realized it marked the beginning of what she was already hoping would be a lifetime together. So she made a plan.


    “I had it framed for him for Christmas, hoping he would someday ask me to marry him and that I would get it back and it would hang in our home,” Baylon says. On the back she’d written, “A miraculous night I thank God for every day.”



    She got her wish. The couple married in 2003, in the place where it all started—the lobby of the Davenport Hotel. And the framed invitation took a place of honor in the home they now share with their 7-year-old daughter. It shows well against the deep hue of the wall which just happens to be the exact shade of the interior of Rockwood Bakery. 


    “When I look at the invitation now,” Baylon says. “I always wonder how different my life would be if I had not been a part of that event.”


       “And how many women can say they met their future husband and mother-in-law at the same time?”


Cheryl AnneMillsap’s audio essays can be heard each week on Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” which is available at Auntie’s Bookstore in Spokane.


Object of Affection: Gina Freuen’s Portrait of Memories

   I suppose you could argue that an artist, especially someone from a family of artists, would naturally be sentimental about artwork. But ceramic artist Gina Freuen’s love for a particular painting is more about the memories within it than the work itself.

   “The painting was done by my mother when she was 33 years old and I was 5.  Mom is 90 now.  It is a painting of my great Aunt Maggie sitting in a rocking chair, with a curio cupboard behind her, book shelves and a window that looks out at a path that leads away from the house,” Freuen says. “ My mother painted this painting with naive skills.  The rocker floats and the feet sit lower than the chair, but it shows the skills she was developing in becoming a wonderful painter in her mature years.  

   Freuen rescued the painting from her parents’ garage sale many years ago as they prepared to retire and move to the Oregon Coast.

   “They had visions of a new, fun, retirement life and all of this old stuff had to go,” she says.

   To Freuen,  the history of four generations of women in her family is captured by her mother’s brush strokes and she couldn’t let it slip out of her hands. She brought it home with several other special pieces.

   “My Great Aunt Maggie lived in the original homestead up in Almira, Washington.  Our trips up there as children were looked forward to for weeks,” she says. “The path leading to the house (is) imprinted on my mind.  When I picture the house, I picture the path.  I picture      Great Aunt Maggie standing at the door.” 

   The house still stands and now Maggie’s daughter, Eileen, lives there. The curio in the painting is still there. The bookshelves are still there. The path is still there.

   But the painting holds a deeper significance in Freuen’s eyes.

   “As mother moved into her Alzheimer years she lost her ability to paint, so having one of her early paintings is very important to me.  She has never recognized the painting as one she values because she only sees skills that needed to be better,”Freuen says. “It could be said that memories are the most important to us not objects; this painting holds my most cherished memories.”  

     “If my house were to catch fire, I would grab it and run.”


Cheryl-Anne Millsap’s audio essays can be heard each week Spokane Public Radio. She is the author of ‘Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons’ and can be reached at










Finding inspiration in old ornaments

Continuing my Treasure Hunting series on what sparked a life-long love of vintage in local collectors and dealers, this week’s profile features Hollie Jantz Eastman.
Eastman is one of the co-owners of Funky Junk Antique Show.

    Like so many of us, Hollie Jantz Eastman’s love of old things was a habit that started at home when she was allowed to select several of her grandmother’s Christmas ornaments.

    “At the time it didn’t matter at all. “I just picked up the six different colored ornaments and put them in a box,” she says. “They didn’t go on my tree that year, but the next year I was glad that I had them.”

    Eastman had no idea just how much the ornaments would come to mean to her. Almost a decade ago, Eastman’s grandparents were killed in an accident just 10 days before Christmas and the ornaments gained deeper significance.

    “Those ornaments are just Styrofoam bells, fancied up with thread and glitter and paint, but they have come to represent the era that I love so much,” she says.  “The same in which my grandma started her life a wife and mother.”

    Now, Eastman finds inspiration and comfort each time she places one of the handmade pieces on her tree.

    “They have graced and glittered my Christmas tree every year and reminded me of my lovely grandma,”  Eastman says. “Since that bleak holiday ten years ago, Christmas has since begun to be joyful again for my family and me.”

    As a successful entrepreneur, Eastman spends her time searching for vintage items to sell at her own shows and other venues, and she has discovered an affinity for mid-century modern finds.

    “When I started junking for real, and made it into a life’s occupation, it was the vintage 1940’s and 50’s that I was drawn too,” she says. “And it is those vintage items that still speak most vividly to me.”

   Eastman finds personal inspiration, as well.

    “As I navigate the journey of being a wife and a mother,” she says, “all it takes is bringing out those ornaments on a December day to bring it all back into focus.”

Click here to learn more about Funky Junk Antique Show.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at

Treasure Hunting returns

In 2004, as a freelancer for The Spokesman-Review, one of the first columns and blogs I developed was Treasure Hunting. The paper was looking for someone to cover antiques and collectibles and I was looking for a reason to justify all the time (and money) I was spending on those very things. It was a perfect match. I spent the next four years junking, antiquing, writing and blogging about my wonderful finds as well as the treasures S-R readers held dear.

The print name was changed to Treasure Hunt when I was named Home and Garden editor and the column was moved into the weekly HOME section. I stopped actively blogging for Treasure Hunting in 2007 but carried forward the print column until 2008.

That was just a minor detail. I continued to get mail from all over the world as new collectors would stumble onto a great find and then Google it. My old columns and blog posts would pop up and they would write me to share.

And, I never stopped collecting. I don’t buy as much as I used to, downsizing to a much smaller house put a stop to that, but I still spend many happy hours at local antique malls, shows and sales. I have a regular thrift store route and often say hello to friends as I see them.

The economic freefall that occured last year changed a lot about the way we were living our lives. Job losses, tight credit and an overall feeling of unease tightened the pursestrings. We were no longer as willing to splurge or take big risks with our money. We pinched pennies and thought twice before making unnecessary purchases. But those of us who can’t resist a little treasure hunting - for seaching out those unusual, irreplaceable and one-of-kind finds - nothing much changed.

I missed writing about my finds and yours. So, I’m back. Treasure Hunting is back.

It’s spring. The antiques shows are coming. Estate sales are calling. Flea Markets will be just around the corner.

I’ll show you mine. You show me yours. Let the fun begin.

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About this blog

Cheryl-Anne Millsap writes about antiques and collectibles and the love of all things vintage. Millsap's Home Planet column appears each week in the Wednesday "Pinch" supplement, and she is The Spokesman-Review's female automobile reviewer. She is a regular contributor to Spokane Public Radio and her essays can be heard on Public Radio stations across the country. Cheryl-Anne is the author of "Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons."

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