John Chaski, Inc.

American Material Culture

Remembering Pam Boynton

John Chaski

People who knew Pam better will write more insightful things, but these are a couple of my memories of her. 

When I did the NHADA show for the first time on two weeks notice, I was walking the floor and came to Pam's booth on the downstairs level.  I extended the same nod and reserved "Hi" that Chance the rapper probably gives Jay-Z when they run into each other at the Grammy's afterparty.  Pam replied spryly "Hi John!  How are you?  Excited to be doing the show?"  I said I was, but that I was nervous.  Two weeks wasn't a lot of time, but I was happy just to be doing it and didn't have great expectations for selling under the circumstances.  "You'll do fine."  She was right. 

I had met Pam maybe twice before this.  After she said "Hi John!", a thought ran through my brain.  I try to avoid coarse language in my blog, but in this instance I can't.  I remember exactly what I thought, and historical accuracy outranks sugar-coating.  "Holy shit, Pam Boynton knows who I am."

The following spring at Hartford, I had a nice theorem in my booth.  Not a mind-blowing theorem, but a nice one.  On Saturday afternoon Martha Boynton came over to the booth with Bill Samaha.  "At least ask him for the dealer price!"  Bill did.  He hesitated.  "What are you doing!  Just buy the thing!"  Bill did.  He didn't need it.  I'm sure he made money on it, but he didn't need it.  He must have mentioned it to Martha and Pam as one of the things he liked on the floor, and I imagine them simultaneously blurting out "Buy it from the kid!"  Pam's connection to that generation of the antiques business had made a sale for me.  Not for someone else, for me.

I'm sure there were other things Bill liked on the floor.  But Pam cared about the future of the business she excelled at and loved.  It's the only excuse I can think of for why she cared who I was, knew that it was my first year at NHADA, and helped talk someone into buying something from me that he didn't need.  It's easy to wish someone success, a lot harder to help make it happen.  Some would call it Yankee ingenuity.  Pam might not have known that I recognized how kind she had been to me, that I knew she had gone out of her way for me, and I regret that.  I will miss her.