Growing up, Linda Saylor watched her grandmother make butter in a certain Jewel Tea bowl.
“When I was a little kid I asked her, ‘When you don’t want it anymore, can I have that bowl?’” she recalled.
In 1972 she gifted it to Saylor, initiating a hobby that transformed into a career – one that ended earlier this month when Saylor closed down T&L Antiques in Bridgeport.
“After she gave me the bowl, I went out looking for more of those kinds of dishes,” Saylor said. “Then I would find something else I liked and before I knew it, I decided I needed to open up a shop because I didn’t have any room in my house.”
She and her husband, Tommy, and other family members started with a booth at an antique store on Washburn Street in Decatur – a two-story home that most recently housed Jearene’s Cottage and Exceptional Bride.
After a year-and-a-half they moved to the antique mall in Azle, where the Saylors lived then. They rented space in that venue for four years.
But Mrs. Saylor yearned to learn more about the business side.
“There’s a difference between being a dealer and having a shop,” she said. “So I worked for two years at the front, checking people out and helping them so I could learn more about it.”
Then Tommy – who retired from lake patrol for the Tarrant Regional Water District last month – was transferred from Eagle Mountain to Lake Bridgeport.
With her newly cultivated skills in business management, she and Tommy rented space from Addie Ruth Green Steel to open a shop on Halsell Street, where they operated for five years.
Then in 1996, the couple purchased a building further east on Halsell which housed the business until two weeks ago.
“With Tommy retiring, I thought, ‘It’s time I retire, too,’” Saylor said.
They plan to retreat to an old farm house they’ve remodeled on the lake in Graham, taking with them the memory of creating memories.
“I’ll hear so many people come in and say, ‘Oh we had those,’” she said. “That’s what you’re trying to build.
“I tell women, ‘If you want your kids to keep something, when you have Christmas dinners, Easter, birthdays – then you use your good china.’ It doesn’t have to be expensive china. But use it instead of paper plates, because then your kids and your grandkids will say, ‘Oh we ate off of that when we were little,’ and they’ll want to keep your things.
“It has a memory to it. Paper plates have no memory.”
Like that butter dish that launched it all, that’s what shops like hers are all about.
“They’re memory shops,” she said. “How special to be a part of so many.”