​T’s Antiques Calls it a Day


by Kevin Cummings, Messenger Staff Writer
A Rolex watch may have been the biggest discovery amongst the flotsam and jetsam of yard sale items, but companionship was the most valuable treasure people found at T’s Antiques in Cowan.
Almost every night, Polly Hughes, T.A. Galloway, Dot Davidson and their friends gather at Polly’s for Rummikub, a version of rummy with colored and numbered tiles in lieu of playing cards. The three former T’s Antiques cohorts can’t decide who’s the best player.
“T.A. and Dot are pretty good; I’d say they’re about even,” Polly said.
“She’s the champ, really,” Dot counters, indicating Polly.
Dot reconsiders and leans toward T.A. as the best player.
“Anybody who’d play all night and have one point has to be considered the champ,” she said.
Dot’s great grandmother was a sister to Polly’s grandmother, and T.A. (Thomas Allen) is Polly’s nephew. The trio worked together at T’s Antiques, but they closed the business in early July, and the building and items inside were recently auctioned off.
Polly’s late husband Charlie came up with the idea of opening a “junk shop” for T.A., (the “T” in T’s Antiques) which they opened in downtown Cowan in 1985.
“We started across the street from where we are now with a bunch of junk,” Polly said .
The junk evolved into more beautiful wares and Polly especially enjoyed the Southwestern fare, the china and the silver. T.A. said he was partial to furniture, but Dot loved “all of it.”
“To me it was playing house,” Dot said, “because you could decorate and if you didn’t like that, tomorrow you could take it down and do it another way.”
She was in the background of the store for years, but joined as an official employee about four years ago.
“I appreciate beautiful things in life, we all do, and I can see the beauty in very simple things,” Dot said. “I was attracted to old wheels and lots of old things that I could see the beauty in.”
Most of the items at T’s Antique’s came from yard sales and in addition to local pickers, they had a picker in Florida who found items of interest and/or value in the Sunshine State. In addition to that Rolex watch, they sometimes found beautiful paintings, linens, glassware and other goodies.
“It was like treasure hunting,” T.A. said .
Experts sometimes advised the trio on what an item was worth, or the trio would combine their knowledge of antiques to set a value.
“We weren’t always right, but you know what we did? We just marched on,” Dot said.
Polly, who turns 99 on Aug. 5, said if she were younger she’d open another shop.
“It wasn’t work, honey,” she said, “it was just fun.”
Polly opened the first flower shop in Cowan in 1948, she said , and owned a job placement service in Nashville, Polly Hughes Personnel Service, from 1960 to 1983 when she moved back home to Cowan.
Many people contributed to the antique shop over the years, including Linda Coleman, whom T.A. said was a “key ingredient and hard worker,” as well as Chester Smith, a local picker.
Polly, Dot and T.A say what they’ll miss most are the folks who visited the shop.
“The people came from all over the world, we got all kinds of people, all nationalities,” T.A. said .
“We had a marvelous clientele…” Polly adds. “It was the people who made it, really and truly. You just looked forward to them coming back.”
Both Polly and Dot agree it was T.A.’s kindness that made the business so welcoming.
“T.A.’s success through the years has certainly been his knowledge of his merchandise and his kindness and warm personality,” Dot said, “and his patience with the people when he was explaining things. If they wanted to talk about something 30 minutes or an hour, that was fine with him.”
Now that the doors to T’s Antiques are closed, two of the three say they are retired.
“You have regrets, but it was kind of a relief too,” Polly said.
Dot is unsure of the future.
“Who knows, we may not be retired long,” she said.
“Bite your tongue,” T.A. replies.
Regardless, the nightly Rummikub gatherings and friendships that started well before the shop closed are going to continue. Polly said the neighbors may wonder about all the cars in the driveway.
“They think we’re probably gambling up here,” she jokes, “making meth or something. They don’t know what we’re doing.”