By Marge Ann Jameson
It’s the end of an era. Lee Trotter, owner of Pacific Grove post office box “1,” has retired.
The upscale antique store on Lighthouse Avenue is closed, and all the brilliant, beautiful things inside will be going up for auction in the Bay Area. The first load will be packed up early next week.
“We went through a number of scenarios,” said her son, Terry. “This was the way we – including my parents and my sister, Cheryl – decided to handle it.” He added that Mrs. Trotter has never, since 1965 when she began the business, had anything resembling a “sale” or an “inventory reduction sale,” and it didn’t seem right to begin doing that now.
“It will be gradual,” he said, speaking of vacating the store on Lighthouse which holds so many memories for so many people.” It’s time for others to enjoy it.”
“People have been so supportive of Mom’s business,” he said. He particularly mentions Nancy Gallik, Mrs. Totter’s closest friend, who Terry says is an important part of the family, and that they couldn’t have run the business over the past decade with her.
“There have been families, estates, collectors, retired officers, entertainers, diplomats . . . wonderful people with prominent backgrounds. And the stories! Each piece has a story. Each piece celebrates the artist who made it.”
Terry recalls some of the famous people with whom his mother interacted.
“When she would do shows, Liberace was a regular at her booth. And Jonathan Winters would come by and do some of his silly impressions.” Terry remembers visits from Margaret O’Brien, stopping by to see dolls, and Wesley Cramer. And Tom Lehman, the golfer. Linda Bruckheimer would actually rent a truck when she came to see Mrs. Trotter, in order to carry off the specific items she loved.
“We have so many wonderful memories, and so many people to thank in the community, from the professional field and those who are personal friends.”
Mrs. Trotter’s treasures appealed both to local collectors and to tourists and customers from all over who discovered her. There were regular visitors to Pacific Grove who would check in with her before they checked in at their hotel. But she didn’t keep a mailing list so even though business has slowed in recent years, there will be a lot of disappointed people out there when they discover she has retired.
Mrs. Trotter, for her part, is busy having new experiences – learning to play bingo, for example, while her husband of nearly 70 years is learning bridge. It’s something they never took time for during the decades of owning an antiques business.
Lee and Dick Trotter began their antiques business in a small building in New Monterey, eventually moving to Pacific Grove and a site on Forest Avenue, where her son, Terry, now has a gallery. She has since moved to a large building on Lighthouse where her treasures brighten the front windows.
She initially learned her trade in England, where the Trotters lived for four years when Dick was in the service. They would spend their free time shopping, learning, and researching antiques.
“Sometimes we’d stay up all night studying. It was so fascinating,” she said.
They brought their knowledge and interest back to the U.S., settling in Tucson, AZ. But a vacation trip to Pacific Grove convinced them that they should relocate, and in 1965 that’s what they did. Dick was a successful and avid coin collector, and by trading coins they were able to always improve their own stock. A long time ago, people began to bring her things and she no longer had to go to shows or buy unopened containers of antiques.
She has a broad scope of knowledge about various antiques, from dolls to figurines to large pieces of furniture. Her favorite period, and the one she decorated with at home, is Victorian. Terry calls it “everything from Depression glass to Tiffany.”
Terry has plans of his own, outside the two galleries he owns with his wife, Paula. Their galleries in Pacific Grove and Carmel show mostly early California and American artists.
Terry, a Pacific Grove high school graduate, wants to found a “museum of the Monterey Peninsula” in Pacific Grove.