Posted 3 years ago
It was April 1974. A friend was waiting to take me to the bus depot in Binghamton the day after having successfully defended my dissertation.
I was in a reckless, top-of-the-world mood. So when we passed an Antiques store with lamps on the window, I asked him to stop. I was already planning on a gift to myself.
But I was in for a disappointment. All of the lamps were obviously new, or outright fakes, with outrageous prices. As we walked around making comments, the owner kept after us. finally, he blurted: "Where are you from?" I answered I was from NYC. He aswered: "I think I have a New York style lamp in the basement. Would you like to see it?"
We walked downstairs in total darkness. He seemed to know where the lamp was, for he went straight to it and turned it on. And my heart jumped for joy. I decided to pull a Callas Tosca: " Cuanto? Il prezzo!" And he told me. The lamp would cost a month's rent (rent at that time, it is).
So, I bought it. He packed it in two huge boxes, which I would carry on the bus with me, one on my knees and one under the seat. I made a phone call confession to my partner: "Go wait for me at the terminal. I just spent the rent money on a lamp". He paused. "Don't worry. For you to have done that, it must be very beautiful".
So, we did find money for the rent, and I have had the lamp for 38 years. The top has two lights, and the bottom also lights up. It is 22" to the top of the shade, which is 18" in diameter. It exhibits a chipped surface with reverse enameling of pansies on a yellow and purple ground. No marks, unfortunately. I made a vow it would always be placed my my side, and there it has remained.