Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Little Slice of America: The Garage Sale

Our driveway at the peak of the fun. My sister is sitting in the distance and my brother-in-law is in the foreground at the checkout table.

Our weekend garage sale had a very small carbon footprint. It was green and it recycled, and, we hope, it made a lot of treasure hunters happy.

The happiest people of all were my sister, my brother-in-law and me. Every single thing that went out our door was one fewer thing we had to deal with, store, or donate. The folks who attended paid us and took away the stuff as a bonus. We even sold my Dad's old ohmmeter, which means someone else can continue to meter all those ohms.

It was a lot of work and even though we made some money, our time factored out at about .10/hour. Still, we did solve some of the mysteries of things our mother had bought at previous garage sales. This chair, for example, which we found stored in a shed:

We scratched our collective heads, trying to figure out why anyone would want it. Then, my sister found the top of the back, and the chair looked like this:

Now we had a chair with a heart-shaped back, and though no one, alas, had the insight to purchase it, me, my mother's daughter, will store it in the garage against the day that I will have it covered and the little heart-shaped chair will be a gorgeous feature of my home. Not to mention a great story about my quirky, artistic mother.

A dealer came, and away went the Fantastic Mr. Fox. (And his accompanying odiforousness.) Look for him at a thrift store near you.

The kitchen rug we had loathed--because we feared it would kill both of our parents, since both repeatedly tripped over it and our mother refused to move it--was a featured item on our front fence.

The braided wool floor covering sold to a nice lady who had a country cabin she was furnishing.

My mother's glamorous costume jewelry was the hit of the sale. All her stylish life she loved glittery, jangly clip on earrings. Little girls of all ethnicity--and some big girls too--thoroughly enjoyed trying them on and taking them away.

A man, recently widowed, bought a strand of Mom's turquoise beads, and I heard him say to himself, "She always loved turquoise."

A Marine veteran of Guadalcanal, a sprightly 87-year-old, bought a History Channel VHS tape about the death of Japan's Admiral Yamamoto. I told him it was on the house.

One woman found two chair skeletons interesting--I'm sure our mother found them at another garage sale. She asked me to send an email photo of them to an upholsterer friend of hers. I loved doing it on my new iPhone.

Once I had dispatched the electronic images, I got the name of her upholsterer. With all the nutty chairs I inherited I'm definitely going to need one.

Someone took the old car top rack. Another person bought the thing you use to scoot under a car. A young man bought our old typewriter--I'm not sure he had ever seen one, since he had my sister demonstrate how it worked. A lady bought our old dial telephone for three dollars: we think she was a dealer. A kid took our old world globe that still had the USSR on it. And Yugoslavia. And Czechoslovakia. A true collector's item.

I'd like to tell you Mom was there in spirit and would have loved it all, which would be the kind of sweet cliche I'd love to end with. But I'm not sure that's true. She loved her things, hated to give them away, and wherever she is I hope she is long past being dismayed at our sharing them with strangers. Dad is the one who would have been happy. For years he stopped at garage sales for Mom and put his head in his hands and bit his tongue, knowing a new load of imaginative junque was headed for his home on Echo.

Wherever he is, he is smiling. We've cleaned and swept his garage. Some nice engineer has his ohmmeter and that gargantuan pipe wrench he no longer needs.

Better you than me, he is saying. But Robin, he would add: why in the heck did you save that wreck of a heart-shaped chair?

I'll let you figure that out.

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Thaddeus Seymour said...

As always, fun to read. And let this old English teacher express appreciation for your distinction between "fewer" and "less" (In the second paragraph - "one fewer thing").

I used to complain at Publix about the sign: "10 ITEMS OR LESS." I'm pleased to report that the express lane sign now reads: "10 OR FEWER ITEMS."

Thanks for your impeccable usage!


Robin Chapman said...

Nothing will ever compare to the Estate sale you had when you left Virginia Heights ... But Kimmy and I had a hoot of a time. Thanks for the kind comments. English, as ever, is difficult!