Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Garage Sale Survivor

You will never find a "Caution: This vehicle makes sudden stops at garage sales" bumper sticker on my car. I figure I have enough junk of my own without adding "bargains" other people are trying to unload. Garage and estate sales are just not my thing so you can imagine how thrilled I would be about hosting a sale.

I survived my first such experience 18 months ago when we cleaned out most of my parents house. Even though we kept many treasures, items such as the pink brocade sofa and tacky fake crystal chandelier desperately needed to find new homes. Happily most of the estate sale enthusiasts left with their arms full of bargains.

At the time of the first sale, no one was up to the task of clearing out the 60 year accumulation in my father's shop. "Perhaps he might still want to come back and use some of the tools," was our rationalization. Several weeks ago when Dad moved to an adult foster home, it became clear we could not avoid the project any longer.

I spent weeks organizing the miscellaneous content of cupboards and boxes. I sorted family photos and letters, school projects and text books, trombone and vocal music books, engineering manuals, slide rules and scales, micrometers, calipers, drill bits, tools for building string instruments and locks, used electrical parts, broken gauges, boxes of glue, extension cords, string, saws, wrenches and files. I filled the recycling container and garbage can several times and spent days looking up prices on the Internet for drill presses, band saws, punch presses, and old books. Finally this past weekend we were ready for a sale.

The day before the sale we hauled everything out of the 300 square foot shop in the basement to tables set up in the garage and on the patio. I arranged and my sister, the garage and thrift store veteran, priced every item. On the first morning, inspired by a sunny day after weeks of non stop rain, garage sale junkies began arriving an hour and a half before the published start time. They swarmed over the riches like ants drawn to a picnic.

The saying, "One persons trash is another person's treasure" certainly applies in the garage sale business. I kept a free pile well stocked with boxes full of old paint, wood scraps, dried up glue, used sand paper, broken Christmas decorations, out of date text books, bits and pieces of building hardware, and other miscellaneous discards. I am happy to say most of it magically disappeared.

Toward the end, Gary was twisting arms and making deals so we could unload as much as possible. One poor fellow left mumbling something about trouble when he got home.

I was thinking as wrenches and saws left in boxes and bags - it is as though my father's lifetime of accumulated tools and other possessions have been dispersed like seeds on the wind. Perhaps they will take root and give pleasure to someone in their new life.

1 comment:

  1. Thankyou! for the beautiful image of the tools being dispersed like seeds. I see pages of illustrations in a children's book with tools flying off through the sky to land and begin creating......One of the things I do brake and do u turns for these days is garage sales where the sign says "tools". Lucky I wasn't near Portland last weekend! When I came to this country only I brought 3 wood block carving chisels. I have filled the gaps with things as I need them or as I ahve found them at yeard sales and thrift stores.