Friday, July 30, 2010

Everyone has a story to tell

Giant neon pink poster board signs screaming ESTATE SALE TODAY were stuck on the side of the road as I was driving to work this morning. Automatically my hands turned the steering wheel to the right, straight in to the driveway. WOW! This sale must be crazy... about 50 people were parked on the front lawn... and there was a line waiting to get in. So... I too parked on the grass and got in line. Oh... I see... we are to take numbers... like in the deli. OK... I reach in the basket, grab the next number... 69... of course.

Two and a half hours later I emerge clutching my 'treasures'. I didn't purchase much... just a few things that I thought were interesting. DARN! I should have looked for a toaster... someone bought mine at our whole house sale.

The woman who lived here is 96 years old and needed to be placed in an assisted living facility. The contents of her home now being sold off by her children. A product of the depression era, she saved everything... and I do mean EVERYTHING! No, none of the balls of string, rubber bands or aluminum foil, but sea shells, yarn, plastic canvas, jars, and zippers. Yes, I bought the zippers... how could I pass up 50 perfectly good metal zippers??? Teeny, tiny bits of thread still clung to the edges from where they were ripped from slipcovers and such. There was a box of pocket linings lovingly cut from work pants... I guess so she could replace worn ones? No, the pockets didn't call my name.

The basement was overflowing with more 'treasures'. One man unearthed a framed letter from President Ronald Reagan... with his real signature. The same man pulled a picture of Farah Faucett out from a box and was ecstatic to discover that it was an iron-on for a t-shirt. Woo! Hoo! As the saying goes... one man's trash is another man's treasure. 

Everything that had ever been given to her had been saved. Most were found in their original box or wrapping, others were banded with rubber bands. ALL had scraps of paper attached with who gave it to her and when. For example... I fell in love with a 3 tiered dessert tray. The note taped to it read, "Elmer's Christmas gift to me, 1955". Baby blankets not only had notes of who made it and for which child, but who else used it... and a photo of the gift in use. All of her craft supplies, although all thrown in drawers, boxes, and baskets... were labeled with which part of which craft item it was used for.

The most amazing collection were her sea shells. Old mayonnaise and pickle jars were filled with shells she found over the years on their family trips to Florida. Each strip of masking tape on the lids identified the type of shells and their craft use. They were so beautiful grouped together on the table... but what on Earth would you ever DO with all of those shells? I wish I could meet her and ask.

One entire bedroom was filled with tables holding the Styrofoam packaging of the special plates offered by the Franklin Mint on a subscription basis. I have never seen so many of them all in one place. There must have been at least 100 collected over the years. All have their certificate of authenticity with them. I am sure she thought she was making an investment when purchasing these plates. Sadly no one is interested in them... so there they sit.

Her sewing room... if that's what you want to call it... held the most interest to me. I spent about an hour just in that room alone. Most people go to these sales and look at the furniture and appliances. Not me... I head right to the crafts and linens. Did you know that the Star Ledger sold sewing patterns through the mail? I found a real cute pattern to make a retro apron still in the envelope sent from the Star Ledger... and I found the perfect fabric to make it too. The drawers in her hutch were bursting with baggies, old checkbook boxes, baby food jars, and baby wipe containers holding lace trim, rick rack, sequins, pins, and all the other little odds and ends a sewer could perhaps find a use for... some day. At the bottom of one drawer I found an old spice jar filled with sand, labeled, 'From our trip to Sanibel Beach'. A small olive jar held a different color sand... also labeled however the name of the beach escapes me. I wonder why she held on to those two jars of sand? From the looks of her sea shell collection she has been to many beaches... why only those two? Don't you think this would make a great story line?

An organ sits proudly in her living room. Happy 'sing-along' type music books are stacked in a pile on the floor. I can almost hear the family singing gathered around her while she looked up and smiled. I don't know if this ever really occurred. Maybe she didn't play the organ at all. Maybe one of her children did... or maybe her husband. I'll never know. However, I do know that she must have been a dear sweet woman that loved her husband and family. 

Two sentimental items were found and given back to the family. Love letters exchanged between her and her husband while he was away in the military. Hers to him tied in blue ribbon and his to her tied in pink.

Everyone is interesting. Everyone has a story to tell. What's yours?


  1. I hear a best selling novel here. I think you should make notes while it is fresh in your head and just go with your imagination on what springs to mind as you think about those things you saw. You have the heart for it!

  2. Thanks Cheri!!! I'm already in the middle of writing a book... about my crazy last 10 years, how I became penniless, the lawsuit I'm in and how it all comes out. However... I am taking notes about this women and her sale and perhaps someday I can write about her. 96 years!!! Oh what stories she could tell!!!