A small town antique store owner whose passion for the provenance of things carries forward both the stories imparted by their former owners, and the history of craftsmanship that is a conduit to an almost forgotten time.
The Seattle Documentary Association hosts an annual filmmaker retreat called DOC FOREST. Held in Eatonville, WA this year, participants were presented with the challenge of finding a local subject to film, shooting and editing a short documentary with a mobile phone within a period of five hours. I found my way to an independent, family-owned antique shop run by Terry Van Eaton, the grandson of the town’s founder.
Sending a bit of time with Mr. Van Eaton was transformative in that it shaped my expectations about what I might be able to capture. It left me with an altered perception and a renewed appreciation of the objects that we choose to populate our lives. Where one might initially see a shop filled with inanimate objects, Mr. Van Eaton’s ardor for those things illuminated them one by one, bringing them to life by telling the stories of their origin, their use, and what those objects meant to their former owners. In a serendipitous metaphor, an unwanted doorway was made useful when Mr. Van Eaton placed it just so at the entrance to his garden, giving it a destiny and therefore an importance it didn’t have before. As a steward of well-made objects that have been given up by their original owners – that no longer have a usefulness and that are at risk of being forgotten by time – Mr. Van Eaton conveys not just “stuff” but the stories of those things and a shared experience of ownership and value.