all keyed up

how many times do you walk pass something and not pick it up? how often have you been to a flea market, looked and examined something and not bought it? then later, the next day, the next week even, you can’t seem to get that thing out of your head. sometimes you regret it, other times you go back and it’s still there, waiting for you. here is one such item for me. the mw studio was located on wooster street, just south of houston, for 13 years. we were on the fourth floor right below a manufacturer of brass fittings for bathrooms. they had been there for 30-plus years. at the time, we lived on ninth street in the village, and i would walk through washington square park almost every day. walking home one evening, past dusk, i crossed houston and as i reached the north side of the street something caught my eye. i looked down and just lying next to the curb was this set of keys, splayed out pretty much like this. i stopped and stared. i didn’t reach down. i just looked for a few seconds and let the image imprint on my brain and continued my walk home. not sure why i didn’t pick them up, but as i walked i kept thinking about these keys. i don’t collect keys, so i saw no reason to pick them up. just an interesting artifact. as i walked up la guardia place, there at the stoplight was a locksmith’s truck. i continued on walking north through washington square park and, as i exited the park, there was the same truck at another traffic light. well, those keys kept calling. as I walked up fifth avenue, i turned left onto ninth street, reached into my pocket and pulled out my own keys. i looked hard at them, then i turned around and went back for these keys. as i got closer to where i first saw them, my step quickened. would they still be there? as i hit houston street, i found myself running. i could see when i got about ten feet away that they were still there, and they’ve been sitting in my desk drawer ever since. lovely, aren’t they?

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  1. Yes, they are.
    I like the patina of everything.

    Comment by gkn — 27/06/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  2. I love this post. Charming keys!

    I often feel the same – about found objects and photos of moments in time.
    More often than not it’s the feeling of regret of having not collected them or missing the moment!

    You’ve inspired me freshly to embrace them more often.

    Comment by peteherb — 20/07/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  3. equally lovely is your story. I have had many a moment like this, although the item I go back to get is nearly almost always gone. bravo to you sir

    Comment by Anna — 06/09/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  4. they are lovely.

    Comment by anna — 12/10/2011 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  5. Those are really nice. I believe the two big round ones to actually be railworkers master keys for old boxcars. I have a bunch with various rail company logos on them, are there anyone on those ones (hard to tell from the size). Good score.

    Comment by PrisonGarde — 17/08/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  6. The case is nice too, and this reminds me of my “should I buy” test at flea markets – how sorry will I be later if it is not still there?

    Comment by Rosemary — 24/10/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

  7. Nice find. You may be interested in my partner’s blog. She collects keys and all kinds of weird metal objects, gadgets, gew-gaws she picks up from the ground and flea markets, boot sales, etc.

    Lovely blog. Shall be coming back for another rummage!

    Comment by michael leigh — 16/11/2012 LINK TO THIS COMMENT

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