Sunday, February 7, 2016

Queueing Up

Friday was a standing-in-line kind of day. The first estate sale started at 8, in an old house. At the time it was built it would have been way out in the country. Remember the picture book The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton? The one where the city grows out and around the sweet little house? (If not, we can wait while you Google it and look at some of the pictures.) 

This wasn’t so urban as the picture book house, but the once-country lane is now a fairly busy main street – with no shoulders to park on. Fortunately we got there early enough to park in the yard. They actually had a lady directing cars where to park. Kind of like a mini – VERY mini – state fair.

We got in line. More people got in line. More cars arrived. The line had to move over so the cars could get past us. We made new friends in line. At last we entered the little house, which was one of those little houses that had rooms added here and there over the years as the family grew and there was enough money. With about 30 people in there it was crowded. And not a darned thing I wanted to take home! I don’t think Judy found anything either. KK found a bundle of crochet hooks back in one bedroom marked $6. “Really?” she asked the lady minding the sale back there. (We have high standards for low prices.) After a minute the nice lady put a new piece of masking tape on the bundle - $3. “We need to make as much for the client as we can on the first day,” she told me. “But…well, I also know who marked that.” We chuckled together over how differently people price things.

The next estate sale didn’t start until 9, and we did our best to make the first one last long enough not to be too early. But sure enough, we arrived, and there was a line. More cars arrived, more people in line. The same people from the first line. We all greeted each other and traded stories on what we had found. The two ladies behind us buy furniture to paint and resell.

When we finally entered, we found another little old house chock full of…pretty much nothing I wanted. (Which is not a problem. When you go garaging just about every week, it's more about what you don’t buy than what you do!) Then on a pass through the kitchen I spotted a couple of hammered aluminum lids.

I'd never seen any quite like these, though when I looked them up online they don’t seem to be particularly rare. (I also looked up how to clean them. Happy to report that boiling water & vinegar took off just about all the grunge.) Thanks to my well-practiced bargaining skills they weren’t very spendy either. Neither had a price tag, so I asked the young woman keeping an eye on the kitchen how much. “Ummm, five dollars each?” she ventured. I was polite. I did not laugh in her face. “No, guess not, I was thinking something more like fifty cents each.” I laid them back down on the crowded table. “A dollar each?” I picked them back up. “Okay, thanks.” Just then an older woman swooped into the kitchen. In a pleasant enough voice but with a smile that looked a bit wooden, she said, “I'll take over in here. You can go mind the door.” But she didn't try to renegotiate my lids, so I was good.

When I paid for them, the lady taking money told me, “We looked everywhere for whatever those go with and never found anything. But come back tomorrow, maybe they will turn up.”

But all I really want is the pretty lids. (Which are much prettier now after their hot vinegar bath!) I'm trying to think of some creative way to display them. Maybe as yard art? Anyone have any ideas?

The next place again had nothing. The house had been closed up for a while they said, and there was a weird smell. Made me think of bug spray. Ick. Didn’t stay long in there! Then we headed for another estate sale east of town. Where I met an absolutely wonderful dog. This is Jetta.

She is probably a Basset/border collie mix, and the darling of the family. The grandkids dress her up and have tea parties with her. But for me, she had a kind of special meaning. She looks very much like a dog we met many years ago (he was probably Basset and Lab) who was apparently homeless, and I have always regretted not putting him in the car and taking him home. For those of you who have read any of my mystery novels, he is the dog I immortalized in the books as Jack. I almost felt like I was visiting with an old friend when Jetta came out.

This sale was for a lady who was very creative; they said she was a notable quilter. I picked up a leather thimble to try.

Also succumbed to this vintage embroidery. Handmade. Fifty cents.

Maybe I can actually use it as a bell pull – I tug it, and it rings in my husband’s office downstairs (a la Downton Abbey) and he comes up and waits on me. Think that would work?

Our last stop was in one of my favorite Salem neighborhoods, near Bush’s Pasture Park. When we pulled up in front of the huge old Victorian house Judy said, “I have always wanted to see inside this house!” We met the nice old lady who has lived there for sixty years and several daughters and a granddaughter.  A big transition for her to sell the house and move somewhere more manageable, but the folks who bought the house reportedly plan to restore it. Which made us happy. After all, one family spending sixty years in a house is what local history is all about. And buying and using some of their things weaves their story into the fabric of many other lives.

So we had a great morning, and at the end off we went for lunch. And I'm very happy to report we did not have to stand in line for a table! 


  1. The 'bell pull' is lovely.
    The lids could be used as Viking breast plates at Halloween?

  2. Andi's comment is hysterical!
    This sounds like a lovely day. I'll be so glad when yard sales are back. You're right. It's the thrill of the hunt, not the results.

    1. Grammy, you're going to be laughing even harder when you hear that is exactly what I was demonstrating for my buddies at the sale! Thought I'm not sure what makes Andi think I would wait for Halloween!

  3. Morningside United Methodist Rummage sale coming up! March 4th and 5th. (Think: Bag Sale!)

  4. I can totally see you using those lids for a Viking costume, but that's mainly because I'm remembering your long blonde braids of yester-year! Actually, they might be fun hung in a wall as a pair, either indoors or out!

    1. And if you remembering my braids doesn't prove how long we've known each other, nothing could. Egads, something like 42 YEARS!! The long blond braids would be long gray ones now if only I hadn't cut them off.

  5. Catching up on my blog reading, as I've been a bit behind for a while now. I love the lids. They would make unique wall art, I think.

  6. Queen of Fifty Cents has been included in our A Sunday Drive for this week. Be assured that we hope this helps to point even more new visitors in your direction.


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

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