Monday, January 19, 2015

The Recalcitrant Red Chair

Oh joy, an estate sale on Friday! You thrifters know that feeling, when it’s winter and raining (or maybe snowing where you are) and there just are no sales to go to…and then there is one. Whew! This one was in Albany (about half an hour away) and my cohort Judy was vacationing in Bend so I was on my own, but I was going. So there.

And it did not disappoint. The house was one of those large 1890s numbers that someone with imagination had lived in. I wanted to steal the handles off the corner cupboards in the dining room.

Acorn drawer handle

Upstairs was decorated with some amazing wallpaper.

Wallpaper roses

The master bedroom had its own sitting room.

Great wallpaper & a red chair

See the red chair? We’ll return to the red chair in a bit.

I made my way through the upstairs, then the basement (which appeared to have been updated in the Fifties with a rumpus room), then the main floor (the kitchen had cabinets from the Twenties and a peninsula counter from the Fifties), gathering up some goodies and wishing Judy was with me to try on all the hats. This one was hand constructed by ‘Sherman’ and had a matching handbag.

Vintage hat by Sherman

I went to pay. The cashier was probably in her fifties and had very short mottled blue hair. Smurf blue. I admit this is a fashion that I do not want to participate in (you won’t see me in one of those long jersey dresses with the bold stripes either) but it was a cheerful blue and she was quite pleasant. I commended her and her helper on their pricing (very reasonable even by my standards!) and she said, “It does not help the estate if no one buys anything.” I wish more estate sale folks shared her philosophy.

While I was paying there was conversation about the woman buying “the chair” and if she had paid for it. Someone stepped outside to check and came back and reported she was just loading the chair into her car and would be back in a minute to pay for that and some other things. They kept watching from the window and commenting on the progress of getting the chair into the car and what kind of car it was (a Toyota) and was it a hatchback and couldn’t she lay down the back seats and get it in that way but no, they don’t work like that in that car, and it looks like she’s just about got it in. I took my change and bag of goodies, and headed out the front door.

The woman with the chair was taking a breather. I stopped to ask if she could use a little help. Oh no, she was fine she said, but she was gasping for breath and sweat was literally running down her face. She had gotten a lot of the chair into the passenger seat, but a goodly hunk was still sticking out. And although she kept saying she could do it, she also leaned over with her hands on her knees and muttered something about feeling like she was going to throw up. Just breathe, I told her, slow breaths, in, out…and holding my own breath hoping very hard that no throwing up would ensue.

Which it did not. Hallelujah. In a few minutes we tackled the chair again. Ooched and pushed. I went around and pulled from the other side. We talked as we ooched and I learned she’s a writer, Therese. (Turns out I’m familiar with her blog.) Meanwhile people are coming and going and while one or two made humorous comments no one else stopped to lend a hand.

(Which I don’t get. Aren’t we here to help each other? And it goes both ways – when someone does offer help, how often do we say oh no, I’m fine, don’t you worry about me.)

We got the chair further into the car, but not enough. Door won’t close. Chair has turned into something like my cat Mrs. Wilberforce when she has to go into a traveling case. Her legs go out sideways (how does she do that?) and she will NOT fit through the door. I think Chair was simply refusing to get in the car. No! I live here and I’m not leaving! Chair was thinking.

A large young man carrying a toy frog came out of the sale. He looked strong. I accosted him for further aid. He didn’t think he could do anything, but by golly we ooched it some more. He turned around and butted Chair further in. And that was it. Chair was in as far as she would go. Door was still a couple of inches from closing, but nice young man with frog fetched a bungee cord from his truck and we wrapped it to the back door and hoped no cops would notice.

Mr. Frog & a red chair

Which I guess they didn’t, as you can see from Therese’s account of the story. I think this is the first time I’ve gotten to read the other side!

My own purchases were easy to fling into my car and head home, and it was $8.50 well spent. The bulk of it went for this completely frivolous find.

Lady & cat pull toy

I think I have a new collection: Odd Wooden Toys. Everyone who sees this one is reminded of the flying nun. I love the jaunty angle of her hat brim.

Wooden pull toy  Girl in cart from back

Then they marvel at the gigantic (almost heraldic) cat.

Cat pull toy

I went looking online and found nothing remotely like it. Maybe it was a prototype, and the toy company owner looked at it and told the designer, nope. That will never sell.

In one of the upstairs rooms there were vintage bags and gloves. When I picked these up

Cashmere & wool gloves

my hands told my brain, ooooh, cashmere. I thought they had an owie (which I knew I could repair)

Wool & cashmere gloves

but it was just holding the tag confirming what my hands already knew.

Cashmere gloves tag

There was a stack of vintage linens with really amazing prices. I’m pretty sure these are placemats, not towels.

Handwoven placematsHandwoven placemats closeup

When I saw this tag, I knew they were coming home with me.

Handwoven placemats tag

More lovely handwork. Currently in their oxy soak; hopefully the age stains will go away.

Swedish weaving towelSwedish weavingEmboidered towelTowel embroidery

Picked up some sets of napkins, and my hands told my brain, oooooh, linen.

purple Dansk napkins   blue Dansk NapkinsI’m about 95% sure these are vintage Dansk pieces from the Sixties.

Dansk napkin purpleDansk napkin blue

The weaving and feel remind me very much of a never-used set I sold on eBay for something like $80.

Dansk linens by Ritva Puotila

I’m trying them out on our dining table as a runner.

Dansk linens

There was only one disappointment, and it was my own fault. This is good tea, and certainly the price was reasonable

Tea Forte

but I should have looked inside the box before I bought it.  Tea Forte a little  Only two…and I don’t like Earl Grey!

you can keep the Earl Gray


  1. Oh I am with you on the Earl Grey. I once sent tea back twice because the milk tasted off - I then realised they had given me Earl Grey (at the hairdressers! There's posh!). It tastes like watered down perfume.
    The story of the red chair was great. Where there's a will, there's a way. xx

    1. Yeah, I think it's that perfumey smell I don't like. Ig. But I'm impressed that you go to such a posh hairdresser!

  2. Yep! Aren't we here to help each other? Glad it worked out! :)

    1. Of course sometimes I'm not sure if I'm helpful or just nosy, but either way we got that chair to its new home!

  3. That puts me in the mood for a good cheap estates sale which I have never been where prices were not scary high

    1. I am ALWAYS in the mood for a good cheap estate sale, but I admit they seem to be few and far between. But as dedicated garagers, we know that you have to kiss a lot of frogs to find a prince!


I really love your comments. Thanks for coming along on my thrifty adventures!

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