A long time ago, I attended college in a part of Southern California still dominated by citrus groves. My alma mater was about a mile north of a citrus-packing warehouse. In those days, the wooden packing crates the warehouse used to store fruit were highly sought after by college kids. The warehouse was happy to sell us their crates for some ridiculously cheap price like 50 cents each. The crates made terrific--and cheap!--bookshelves, coffee tables, nightstands, and the like.
I bought four or five crates for my many books (literature majors have lots of books). For years after, those crates were part of my interior decor. As my taste and income changed, I got rid of most of the crates. But one is still in my hall closet, corralling rain boots and umbrellas. And one is cowering in the guest bedroom under a small landslide of things I need to sort through.
Way back then, when I was a silly sophomore, I got it in my head to poke around the warehouse. At night. For fun. So I went with a friend (I was too big a chicken to do this by myself), and we not only trespassed, we...umm...took some stuff.
Specifically, we took these. Packing labels:
Not mint-condition packing labels, mind you. They had burned bits and a little water damage and were sort of crumbling around the edges. We convinced ourselves that they weren't useful to the warehouse, and that's why they were lying around, not attached to packing crates.
As I said, stupid. And tresspass-y. And steal-y.
But aren't the images adorable?
I thought maybe I'd frame them, but I never did. They lay in a file, untouched, as the decades flew by.
The citrus-packing company is long gone now, but the warehouse is still standing. It's been gentrified into a complex of restaurants, gift shops, and food emporiums, and college kids still wander its hallways. But now they're buying tee shirts and frozen yogurt, not sturdy wooden crates.
Recently, Lovely Daughter #2 graduated from the college next door to mine. She has a degree from the same place her daddy does.
And I started thinking, those old packing labels might be really cute, fairly cheap art for the Funny-Looking House that she's about to move into.
So I dragged them out...
And popped them in inexpensive frames I bought at Target for $10 each.
Yes, you can get cheaper frames if you haunt the junk shops and yard sales. But I wanted four identical frames, with mats that would hide the burnt and uneven edges of the labels.
So, since the artwork was free, I still feel that $40 wasn't a bad price to pay for such wonderful, graphic art.
And the sweetest part is that it has a history I share with Lovely Daughter #2.
And that she can laugh about how once upon a time, her mom was a silly young girl who actually stole something.
'Cuz now I'm older, wiser, and waaaaaaay more law-abiding.