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Column: If Ringo is 80, we’re all becoming antiques

Column: If Ringo is 80, we’re all becoming antiques

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Tammy Wilson 2.JPG

Tammy Wilson

If you listen to ’60s radio or the Beatles station, you know that a milestone will be reached today: Ringo Starr turned 80.

It seems only yesterday that Ringo was drumming for the Beatles. Where have the past 50 years gone?

When the Fab Four arrived in the US, I was in fourth grade. Eighty-year-olds were grandparents, born in 1884. No way Ringo could ever be that old, that happy-go-lucky guy singing lead on “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Yellow Submarine” and “Octopus’s Garden.”

Realizing Ringo’s age reinforces my disconnect with antiques stores. I recently attended an estate sale that got me in the mood to shop for old stuff. I hadn’t been antiquing in some time, and I must say that the inventory has become more…how shall I say…familiar?

I’ve enjoyed antiquing for most of my adult life. Back in the 1970s, Depression glass abounded in every shade of pastel. Victorian pieces were hot, especially golden oak — furniture I remembered from the neighbors’ house when I was growing up. There was real carnival glass for sale, and iron toys and bisque-headed dolls. Old recordings were brittle 78s and maybe 45s from the 1950s.

The antiques world has done a re-set. Perusing the Hickory Antiques Mall the other day was like peering into my parents’ house during the Nixon Administration. Depression glass and 1930s Fiestaware have given way to discontinued Corningware and that Pfalztgraff stoneware with the brown design, the one brides adored in the 1970s.

Speaking of dishes, remember those Harvest Wheat china pieces that came in boxes of Duz detergent? Those one-time giveaways are fetching collector’s prices.

A display of vintage Tupperware caught my attention. Imagine! Plastic Tupperware in bold hues of the 1960s are now sought after. Seems only yesterday my mother was invited to one of their home parties.

Vinyl records have been a thing in recent years, scratchy sound, worn covers and all. Some antiques shops have hordes of LPs arranged alphabetically with name tabs, like they did at the record store. A for Animals, B for Beatles.

Back in 1965 I picked out a “Beatles VI” album for my cousin’s birthday. The cover showed the Fab Four in dress shirts and ties. Perhaps it was the last time they ever dressed like businessmen, except for Ringo who wore a black turtleneck.

Good ol’ Ringo. He was always something of an odd sock, the last to join the group, the clownish, not-too-handsome drummer who occupied the back of the stage, dodging the showers of jelly beans being thrown by screaming fans. My cousin would have been one of them.

These days Cousin has been downsizing. Last month, sold her Beatles throw pillow on eBay for at least 50 times what it cost back in the day. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I remember it — a white pillow with the screen-print image of the band wearing solid blue suits and red ties. Ringo appeared front and center on the pillow, all of 24 years old.

If Cousin’s treasured Beatles pillow has been auctioned, the world has taken a turn.

Ringo has taken his birthdays more seriously than most. Since 2008, he and his friends are celebrating his birthday today, July 7, by pausing at noon — wherever they are — to wish everyone peace and love. The idea is to think “peace and love” when the clock strikes noon so as to send a wave of peace and love around the planet.

Later, Ringo and company will mark his birthday by giving a virtual benefit concert. It seems Ringo should be singing “Octopus’s Garden” instead of becoming an octogenarian, but the peace and love part makes more sense than ever.

Tammy Wilson is a writer who lives near Newton. Contact her at

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