Nathan’s Nostalgia

19-Year Old Is Antique Store Owner

Nineteen-year old Nathaniel Weaver is proud of his antique business, Nathaniel’s Nostalgia, located in Chandler’s Valley outside of Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania. Weaver purchased the business in his senior year of high school. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

I have interviewed a lot of people over the last 21 years, but I have never met someone with more passion for what they do than Nathaniel Weaver. I also have never met a 19-year-old business owner.

While listening to him speak, I had to remind myself that I was talking to someone who was a year younger than my oldest grandchild.

The story begins when as a little boy, Weaver’s mother would take him with her when she browsed through antique stores.

Not only was he exposed when they shopped, he grew-up with antiques in his family’s home.

His mother became ill when the boy was just four-years old, over time lost her ability to drive and eventually became wheelchair-bound. Weaver associated antiques and his mother’s passion for flower-gardening with the times she actively spent with him as a child.

This large set of Royal Wheat fine china is displayed in a pristine mahogany cabinet with glass doors. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

“I still do the things we did together, antiquing and flower gardening,” he says. “This is my bond with my mother.”

Over the years he had continued shopping for relics and had a large collection, but sadly, both Weaver and his mother lost most of their antique collection to a house fire in 2012, when he was 13.

“I felt badly about the house, but I just couldn’t believe all of the history that was destroyed.”

He continued to buy antiques for himself and tried to replace the ones his mother had lost.

“I bought the things as I found them, no matter what they cost, and I was able to replace her cherry jewelry armoire for her birthday.”

A 1945 Buick sits in the yard near a barn that holds four more vintage cars at Nathaniel’s Nostalgia. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

He was so successful at acquiring what he had lost, along with other old pieces, that he soon filled his father’s two-car garage. At his father’s urging, he sold some of the less endearing items, making a noticeable profit.

When he was shopping at one of his favorite antiques stores during his junior year of high school, he noticed a “for sale” sign and asked the owner about the details.

“I had shopped here several times over the years,” he shares. “It was one of my favorite places to shop. Some of the furniture in my bedroom came from here.”

He had been saving 80 percent of the money he had earned, as his parents had taught him.

“I started working when I was fourteen. I was an entrepreneur. When I was younger, I would sell plants I’d grown and resell antiques on eBay. I wanted to be around people my own age, so I took a job at Dairy Queen, where I still fill in.”

Weaver pulled these shelves out of a dilapidated gas station built in Maryland in 1929. Photo by Beverly Kehe-Rowland

He also enjoyed working with troubled kids as a youth coordinator through Alliance of Rural Pennsylvania.

Remembering the profit he made from the garage sale and his love of old things, he decided to use his college money to buy the property before his senior year of high school. He did not buy the inventory because he wanted to fill the store with the things he already had and items he planned to find in his travels.

“I needed to do some renovations and painted some walls that had not been painted for decades.”

A new roof was installed and the furniture room was insulated, new drywall was put up and new flooring was put down. He, also, renovated the two apartments that came with his purchase.

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“They are such nice apartments. If I hadn’t filled them, I would live in one,” he says. “I wanted to build the nicest piece of real estate in the town to set an example to inspire others to do the same.”

He wishes someone would save the buildings near his property before they aren’t savable. He has done some research and has found his store was once F. J. Sands General Merchandise and served as the home of Chandlers Valley Post Office. The structure was built in 1893 and Sands name remains on one of the windows above the door.

“Fred Sands owned and built the store. He sold groceries, stove parts, had a butcher’s department and sold about anything anyone would need,” says the young businessman. “He had a Model T Ford that he would take to farms to buy eggs. He lived in the attached up and down apartment with his family. Fred, his son and daughter-in-law served as postmasters over the years.”

“I wanted to be able to preserve this place for future generations,” Weaver says as he faces a beautiful oil-powered chandelier in a room with an original embossed tin ceiling.

In the early 1900s Ezra Duell had an apple drying station on a rear portion of the property. People brought their apples to be dried in order to hold them over the winter months. Weaver is in the process of having a greenhouse constructed in that area from large architectural storm windows that were once part of Congressman Hamilton’s 1,800 square foot mansion, which is located in Ripley, N.Y.

His inventory is ever-changing. He bought the largest vehicle he could find, a Chevy Suburban with 30,000 miles on the odometer, for his travels to Erie, Pa., Kentucky, Maryland, Ohio and all over New York state. In two years, he has traveled 80,000 miles. It is not unusual to see the vehicle packed full, with items hanging out windows and more strapped on the roof, while towing a trailer full of valuables. He recently brought back shelving used to store car repair manuals in a 1929 Maryland gas station.

“The building was in awful condition and they were going to tear it down,” he says. “I love doing what American Pickers do. It’s so much fun to explore and take part of history to share with someone else. I recently bought a couple of estates. I try to find the best quality things and make them available for everyone to afford. Most of my pieces are a fraction of the cost (of those sold) at other places.”

He points to an 1880s solid mahogany cabinet with double glass doors.

“It is in pristine condition with dove-tailed drawers. No crackling or scuffs.”

Inside he displays a complete service for 12 of 1950s Royal Wheat fine china with many serving pieces. Included are a pitcher, a gravy boat, large and small platters, candy dishes, butter dishes and a sugar bowl. A set of matching crystal goblets and tumblers is on display with the dishes. The Royal Wheat is much more refined than the everyday Golden Wheat dishes found in Duz Detergent.

“We’ve been coming here since the last owners. Now there is such a huge selection and he has such an eye,” says Michelle Goodman of Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania and Floral City, Florida. “The prices are excellent. He is below eBay and everyone. It’s such a passion for him.”

Among his inventory are several glass milk bottles representing many local dairies and a Victorian piano lamp stand with lots of unique oil lamps from which to choose. A stunning pair of 1860s etched cranberry glass oil lamps with glass-beaded shades on marble bases are displayed near the mahogany cabinet in the first room. Several pieces of highly-collectible Griswold cast iron household implements made in Erie, Pennsylvania, including a small two-burner counter top stove and chocolate bunny molds are interspersed throughout the rooms.

“There is something here for everyone. I cater to a wide variety of people with different interests. Clocks, ceramic stoneware, crocks, period pieces, the Victorian Era, mid-century modern, Danish modern….”

He displays stoneware and ceramic churns, one being from the early 1800s, and yarn spinners, spinning wheels, vintage oil paintings, oil-related collectibles and much, much more.

“I have a variety of things you wouldn’t expect to find.”

He gestures toward a Victorian chair with a hand-painted love story scene before walking a few feet to a complete service for four tea set with the same popular scene. The teapot, sugar bowl, creamer and four cups with saucers are trimmed in silver, rather than the usual gold trim.

In his travels Weaver has acquired more than just items suitable for indoor display. He has filled the large barn that sits behind the store, built in the late 1800s, with vintage cars. A 1979 four-door Lincoln purchased from Robert Williams, the mayor of Youngsville, Pa., and a 1976 two-door Lincoln take up space in the building, as well as a 1948 Buick. He was ecstatic to find the car he wanted the most, a 1985 Cadillac like the one his grandfather transported him home from school when the businessowner was a boy. Unfortunately, his grandfather’s car went through a crusher, but he was able to find its mirror image, right down paint, interior and wheel covers. A second Buick, a 1945 model, is parked outside the barn.

“His car had more miles than mine does,” Weaver brags.

He doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t love old things. Even if they had little monetary value, he appreciated them.

“I was never really interested in what everyone else was doing. I was more interested in the past and how it influences what we all do today. I don’t want to grow old and have a job I hate,” he declares. “It’s just been so much fun. I get a warm, fuzzy sensation and I just love feeling that. Who needs drugs? I’d rather get that from finding a Victorian parlor suit in mint condition.”

The entrepreneur is the son of Robbin and Danette Weaver. He still maintains his mother’s flower beds and has tried to save the ones damaged by the heat of the fire. He shares recipes from two of the many vintage cookbooks found on the shelves of Nathaniel’s Nostalgia.

Nathaniel’s Nostalgia is located at 9331 Jackson Run Road, Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania, just 14 miles from downtown Jamestown. Throughout the month of October, hours of operation will be noon until 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. During fall and winter months, the store will open on weekends from noon to five PM. Appointments may be made by calling (814) 730-2352.

Baked Bananas

The Lily Wallace New American Cookbook (1944)

Wipe bananas. Loosen one section of skin on each for entire length. Replace skin. Put bananas in a baking dish. Cover and bake in a 400-degree oven until skins are dark. Remove skins and serve bananas with powdered sugar or lemon sauce.

Ginger Snaps

The Lily Wallace New American Cookbook (1944)

1/2 c shortening

1/2 c molasses

1/2 c sugar

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ginger

1 beaten egg

1/2 c chopped nuts

2 1/2 c flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

2/3 tsp salt

Cream shortening, molasses, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger together. Mix well and bring slowly to a boiling point. Cool. Add egg and nuts, combining well. Sift flour, baking powder and salt together and add to first mixture. Mix thoroughly. Shape into a roll about 2 ¢-inches in diameter. Roll in wax paper and store in refrigerator. Slice and bake in 375 degree oven for 12 minutes. Yields 48 cookies.

Planked Broiled Steak

Good Housekeeping Cookbook (1955)

Use a special hardwood plank about 10-inches by 15-inches (available in housewares departments). Cook two vegetables such as hot mashed potatoes, hot buttered peas, green beans, Brussels sprouts, slivered carrots or cauliflower. Broil steak (usually a T-bone). Meanwhile heat plank in 400-degree oven. Arrange 2 hot buttered vegetables around edge of heated plank; place broiled steak in center. Spread steak with butter or lemon pepper, and snipped parsley. Serve. (plank may be set on platter or tray, or in special holder.)

Snow Pudding

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook Revised and Enlarged Edition (1955)

Mix in saucepan and cook until just boiling, stirring constantly:

3/4 c sugar

1 envelope unflavored gelatin

11/4 c water

Blend in:

1/4 c lemon juice

1 T grated lemon rind

Place pan in cold water and cool until mixture mounds when dropped from a spoon.

Beat 2 egg whites until stiff. Slowly blend gelatin into beaten egg whites using rotary beater. When blended, stir mixture with rubber spatula until it holds its shape. Spoon into dessert dishes or mold. Chill until firm. Serve with custard. Serves 6 to 8.

Deviled Eggs

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook Revised and Enlarged Edition (1955)

Cut in halves 6 hard cooked eggs. Slip out yolks. Mash with fork.

Mix in:

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp dry mustard

3 T salad dressing or vinegar (enough to moisten).

Refill whites with egg yolk mixture, heaping it up lightly. Use with salads, cold meat platters, etc.

Nantucket Do-Nuts

Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook Revised and Enlarged Edition (1955)

Pinch off small irregular pieces of raised bread or sweet dough and drop into hot fat as for doughnuts. They bubble and puff up into all sorts of interesting shapes and often look like little brown men or like frogs. Dip quickly into molasses (thinned with a little hot water) or in maple syrup or honey. Drain. May also be sprinkled with sugar.

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