Jewels or junk? Gerald Jordan loves the “thrill of the hunt”

LA Tech Senior Associate AD Gerald Jordan is a administrator by day and a “junker” by night.

By Amber Barker

The adage of one man’s trash being another man’s treasure intertwines with Gerald Jordan’s hobby of antiquing. 

Driving up to his Ruston home, one can spot a jammed-packed two car garage – room for one car, the remaining space covered by decades old items that elicit a sense of nostalgia from onlookers. 

And that’s just the outside, which quickly gives way to the interior, where every room boasts its own theme uniquely tied with antiques of its own. There are bread and Carnation Milk signs in the kitchen, a Wildroot sign and a barber pole in the bathroom, a nod to decades of barber shop life.

“The only room that doesn’t have something old is the closets, otherwise every other room has some kind of vintage item,” said Gerald proudly, while adding, “[but] it’s neat and clean, not a hoarding area.” 

The 43-year-old Senior Associate Athletic Director at Louisiana Tech is passionate when he speaks about his collection. His interest in antiques and antique shopping began in his hometown of Mountain City, Tenn., a place he affectionately refers to as a “Mayberry-type community.” It was a place he couldn’t wait to get out of, but at age 43, he can’t wait to get back to, recalling the nostalgia of the town and antiquing culture.

“I had a great aunt who always loved going into antique stores, and my aunts and mother did too,” he said. “I always liked old things and the history and story behind them.”

Fast forward two years ago at the urging of his friend, Tracy Campbell of Minden, who convinced Gerald to begin selling some of the items he found over the years. That’s when Jordan and his wife, Samantha, began Orchard Antiques and Vintage and started setting up a booth at local trade days. 

Preparation for selling days includes about an hour to load up both of their vehicles the night before, driving to the local selling spot, a 45-minute set up, then anywhere from 4-6 hours of selling for the day followed by breakdown and returning home to unload.

“It’s a jigsaw puzzle packing the car and truck, making sure we have all the cash money for change, have the snacks, and get it all priced,” Samantha said. “It never crossed my mind ‘junking’ could be someone’s hobby, but it is and now it’s mine. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fun.” 

Gerald and Samantha have been married two years, and they both share the love of antiquing. For Samantha, it was the introduction–  a world she didn’t know much of, apart from visiting a few stores with her mom – 6 months before they were married that hooked her.

“She kinda married into it,” Gerald said. “She’s more into vintage clothing and accessories and décor. I’m more into the advertising and old signs – tin porcelain, gas pumps, anything that’s got some age to it. It’s the thrill of the hunt.”

That “hunt” can last from a few hours to a full day, depending on their findings. 

I’m terrible with time. We may get up and I may envision a couple of hours then we’re out all day and end up in Texas (setting out for Shreveport, ending up in Marshall or Tyler),” he said. “But it’s the quality time spent. It’s something we enjoy doing together and have fun with it.” 

Samantha agreed.

“I like that it’s a time when I can spend with him, and he lets me in on his hobby,” she said. “It’s slow, not rushed, you can take your time and I like that.”

With all the buying and selling Gerald does, there are two possessions he has no desire to part with: a Pepsi Cola bottle cap given as a birthday gift years ago from his mother, and a Dr. Swett’s Root Beer sign – from Old Butler, a community in his hometown of Johnson County.

Allegedly as the story goes it came out of Old Butler, and the reason it’s special is the Tennessee Valley Authority flooded the area to create a lake in the 1940s, and literally part of the town moved across the street,” he said. “Are these items extremely high in dollar value? No. But are they special to me? Yes. Anything like that tied to my hometown I can never fathom parting with.”

Aside from working in athletics, which he enjoys, Gerald refers to himself as the “atypical athletics employee.”

“When I go home, I don’t watch sports, except Louisiana Tech. We don’t watch a whole lot of TV, and if the Bulldogs are on the radio, I’m going to turn it on and listen to Malcolm (Butler), that’s just me,” Gerald said. 

“If there is free time, we’re probably doing something outside or playing in the carport, cleaning something up, chasing something on FB market – it’s the thrill of the hunt, and the dirtier it is the better. We’re always looking for the next truckload.”

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