Tuesday, October 7, 2008
OKLAHOMA ESTATE SALE
Back from Oklahoma, back from sitting behind the selling table, and I am filled with sincere gratitude to all the people who have those yard sales I enjoy so much. This past weekend has reminded me of just how much work it is to put on a sale. I'm grateful as well to all the thrift stores across the land that accept donations of what’s left over. If my mother’s sale is any indication, we’d have filled up all the landfills decades ago if we didn’t have the thrift stores filling this ecological niche.
My biggest dollop of gratitude goes to my sister, who did 98% of the work before I got there. What a trooper! And her work’s not done—there’s still a bunch o’ stuff that didn’t sell, and it was all we could do by Saturday evening to turn the lock on the door and stumble to our cars. If anyone had turned up Saturday afternoon with a mask on and a t-shirt that said “I'm a thief” we’d have handed them a box and told them to be sure to check all the rooms.
The sale was scheduled for 8 to 4 on Friday and Saturday, but I confess we made the first sale on Thursday. We stopped at Walmart for colored dots to indicate prices on items, and I walked across the store to find them while my 87 year old mother waited with the greeter. When I returned, Shirley the Walmart lady had heard all about the sale, and in fact hoped to get by to look at the bedroom set. Heck, I said, if you want you can come on over today and take a look. She stopped in during her lunch break, decided she liked the set, handed over a hundred dollar bill, and returned in the evening in her giant red pickup truck with her granddaughter to pick up her purchase. Shirley was a hoot. By the time she left she had an envelope full of dried seeds from the brown-eyed Susans in the front yard, the last two blossoms stuck jauntily into her short, curly white hair that would have been equally at home on a Bedlington terrier.
We used Shirley’s big bill to get change for the sale, and my sis and I arrived at 6 a.m. on Saturday. We’d told mom the night before that she wasn’t coming. Just too hard to see your treasures being sold. Before you get out the violin, let me assure you that her new assisted-living apartment has plenty of knickknacks that she’s been taking over for the past couple of months and she is by no means bereft of stuff to dust! It didn’t take long to find out one of the differences between California sales and Oklahoma sales: in Oklahoma people pay attention when you say ‘no early birds’ in your ad. With the exception of one dealer who was looking for gold and silver (heck, who isn’t?) no one showed up before the stated time on either day.
Once we got rolling it was pretty fun. Lots of characters walking through. I didn’t have time to make many notes (and I have few memory cells left), but the black walnut man does come to mind. He rolled up on a three wheeled bike with the wire basket full of plastic wrapped bundles. Told us he’d been down by the lake picking up black walnuts. We chatted a while about nuts (apparently this is a good year for the black walnuts but an off year for pecans) and ended up trading a couple of partial rolls of duct tape for a bag of walnuts. Now, these are freshly dropped nuts that need to be spread out to dry and then cracked and picked. I couldn’t really see popping them into my suitcase to bring home (besides, there wasn’t room after I dug up a bunch of my mother’s day lilies and packed them back!). After he left my sister broke it to me that she not only has a prolific black walnut tree of her own, but she hates the taste of black walnuts. So I picked up the magic marker and wrote “Fresh picked black walnuts, 50 cents” on the bag. Sorry to report that they did not sell!
A while later a forty-ish couple wandered in. The husband was wearing a Green Eggs & Ham t-shirt. What children’s librarian could resist? “I do not like them, Sam-I-am, I do not like green eggs and ham,” I intoned. The guy grinned. “I would not like them with a fox, I would not like them in a box--”
“She’s a children’s librarian,” my sister interrupted. That seemed to be enough explanation for everyone. Actually, I'm glad she butted in. I was about to the end of what I remember of Green Eggs and Ham!
One of the things we sold was a silly thing from dad’s corner of the garage. A handful of pebbles with faces drawn on them were glued onto a base, with a sign that said “Rock Concert.” Several people chuckled at it, but one young woman was determined that it was the very gift for her father in law. “Oh, come on,” she said to her cute young husband. “He’ll love it.” Hubby looked skeptical. “Now you know you have twenty five cents to spend on your dad,” she insisted. He finally relented, pulled out that quarter, and off they went. Man, I thought I was frugal!
Perhaps my favorite sale was the long peach dress with a lace bodice that my mother made for some dinner event a few years ago. A little girl found it and thought it was the most beauteous thing she’d ever seen. I told her it was fifty cents, and she lit up. She was in fourth grade; I asked her if she’d be wearing this number to the prom, and she grinned and said she would. When she and her mother and sister were finished looking, she paid for her dress with her very own quarters and carried off her prize.
Speaking of prizes…
A couple of folks mentioned to us that there was another estate sale a few blocks away, and I heard someone say something about teapots. My sister and I both like them, so at a slow point on Friday I said to Marilyn, you go on over there and take a look. I had to talk her into it, but off she went. Came back after a while with a cat-and-canary grin. “Look what I found,” she said, and pulled out a fabbo midcentury teapot, then showed me the $1 sticker on the lid.
I was seized with jealousy. “I'll give you two dollars for it,” I offered. No dice. Three? Nope. I suppose since she did work on mom’s sale for about three months that she actually does deserve this spiffy teapot, but dang!
Oh well, the next one’s mine!