Teacups and Frank Sinatra

by Courtney Tanner

Winner of the Freshman Essay Contest

Ms. Junabee Docketee is the most exciting seventy-one-year-old I’ve ever met. She has light gray hair and fair skin. The day I spoke with her, she was wearing a light yellow apron with her floral gardening gloves sticking out of the front pocket. I’ve never held a conversation with someone with a wilder imagination. Through the entire interview, I felt like I was listening to a fairytale. Ms. Junabee—Junie for short—owns an antique shop in downtown Ponchatoula. This shop has everything from postcards to horse saddles to red alligator boots. When I walked in, I noticed a wall of Frank Sinatra posters and records.
Junie and I decided to begin the interview under an oak tree behind the store. We sat at a white iron table with matching chairs, a succulent as the centerpiece. There were old wooden shelves filled with mason jars and miniature statues. Across the yard, old sinks littered the garden. It looked like a page from a storybook.
“Ya know, sweetie,” she said, handing me a mason jar filled with ice water, “I’m so thrilled I get to talk to someone other than myself for a few hours.” She raised her glass for a toast and smiled.
I opened my notebook. “What started your love of antiques?”
She smiled and said, “My father. He took me to flea markets, estate sales, and sometimes auctions.” She told me how they picked out antiques together and how it made her feel special. “It was like his super power. Finding these grand antiques in crummy old shops,” she said, gesturing around her.
“You know, we went to England one time,” she said out of the blue, excited as ever. England was where her love for teacups began. She said teacups remind her of being young and in love. She leaned forward and handed me a beautiful pink and white floral teacup. “That very teacup is worth over one hundred dollars, my lady.”
I immediately put it back in her hands.
She laughed and sat back in her chair. Her eyes drifted off into the teacup. “In England,” she smiled and stared into the sky, “there was an extraordinary antique shop. I went in this shop at least four times that week. I was nineteen at the time.”
Junie told me the origin of the lovely teacup she held in her hands. When she was wandering in the antique shop, she saw the teacup and fell in love with it. Sadly, her father had only given her seven dollars to spend in the store. Her perfect teacup was thirty dollars. She went into that shop three days in a row, hoping that maybe she’d find another teacup just as beautiful, but affordable. “On the first day I went into the store, I noticed this handsome young man looking in the store just as I was. Of course, I batted my eyelashes and smiled, but we never spoke. I saw him on the second day as well and gave him a soft smile—I was nervous.”
Junie and the handsome young man never spoke, and he wasn’t in the store the next two days. When she walked into the store on the fourth day, the woman at the checkout desk told her there was a gift for her. Completely confused, she took the box from the woman and quickly opened it. There was a card that read, Miss, I couldn’t help but notice this cup is just as lovely as you. I think you will fit quite nicely together. Enjoy. Junie recited the card from heart. She leaned in, as if telling a secret, and said, “I told my father I bought it for a dollar–fifty.” She laughed. She believes that gentleman was her true love. I was shocked when she told me that she never saw him again. Junie never married. She laughed and said, “I’ve got plenty of men wrapped around my finger.”
The antique shop in England sparked her love and obsession for teacups. She has over two hundred in her collection. Her teacups make her feel elegant and “like a five-star lady.” This woman has shown me how something so simple can give you a positive outlook on life.
“I just love fun things,” she said. “Take away age, take away money, take away looks. What do I still have? The important things, my dear—my teacups, and my portrait of Mr. Frank Sinatra.”