Monday, June 6, 2011

E is for Emotional Estate Sales

It is the Fifth Monday in our ABC meme.  So it must be the letter E

One of the first estate sales Ross and I attended turned out to be a very emotional one for me.

Years ago, on weekends, Ross and I would jump in the car and take winding back roads to where ever they would lead us.  This was, of course, before we had the "lady" in the car with us, telling us "prepare to turn right..."

One hot sunny Saturday in 1998, yes, I believe it was July (okay maybe I don't quite remember it as  specifically as that), we wound up in a typical New Jersey suburban neighborhood.   As we were riding down one of the streets, we noticed one of the houses had many cars parked in front. People were waiting in line to go into the house and carrying items as they came out.    

We slowed down and saw the Estate Sale sign out in front of the house.  We decided to stop and check it out.    As we walked up to the front door, I was struck by how much this 1950's ranch style house looked like the one I lived in when I was growing up.
It gave me an eerie feeling.

Once we got inside, the strange vibe I was experiencing became stronger.   Ross went his way and I went mine.  

I wandered into one of the bedrooms.  There was a full size bed with an ornate mahogany head board.  The bed looked like it had been hastily made.  The covers were carelessly thrown over the mattress.

A pair of 1940's mahogany night stands were on either side of the bed.   A lovely old fashioned bedside carafe and glass sat on top of a stained crocheted pineapple doily.

A golden compact, brush, and comb set sat on the other stand.  There were remnants of a light shade of face powder covering the top of the stand.

A matching mahogany dresser sat against the wall across from the bed.   Once carefully ironed hankies, hand embroidered doilies and night gowns were now jumbled up and hanging over the edges of the drawers.

A faded needlepoint upholstered victorian style rocker sat in the corner of the room, under the window.  Next to the chair was a walker.  

The closet was full of women's clothing.   Judging by the sizes of the dresses, coats and shoes, and shade of powder, I started to  picture what this woman may have looked like.

Other people walked in and out of the room.   One woman was going through a stack of linens which were piled on the floor.  Another woman was pushing the hanging clothes across the pole in the closet as if she were bargain hunting at T.J. Max.  

The room looked very similar to a bedroom that my Grandmother may have slept in.  I imagined that this Grandmother was now living and being cared for by her children.  I began to feel very sad.

The next room I went into looked like it was the master bedroom.  Men's and women's clothing were hanging in the closet.  The room was quite a mess.  It was obvious that many people had been in and out of the room.   A SOLD sign hung on one of the dressers.

I left that room and went into the next bedroom.  There were a pair of twin beds with maple headboards.
Each bed was covered with a pink chenille bed spread.

A lovely old wicker dressing table, painted lavender, sat against the wall under the window.   The girls must have used this as a desk, I thought.

As in the other rooms , the matching dresser was full of clothes.  Summer shorts, tops, and pj's, once neatly folded, were now strewn sloppily in and out of the drawers.

The closet held pretty summer sun dresses.  There were little white sandals and pink flip flops on the floor of the closet.

This easily could have been the room that my sister and I once shared.

The house became very claustrophobic for me.   I felt like I needed some fresh air.   I pushed my way through a crowd of people looking for Ross.   I found him rooting through some old tools in the basement.    A basement quite like the one in my old house.

I told Ross that we had to leave immediately.

In 1990 my father died.  My mother did not find out how bad their financial situation was until after my father passed away.  The house was in foreclosure.  The bank gave her one month to vacate.   One of the hardest things that I and my bothers and sisters had to do was help my Mom clean out the house.

Back then, foreclosure was not a common circumstance and was quite shameful.  Especially for my mother's generation.

I knew that the owners of this house must have had to leave under similar circumstances.

Ross and I have attended many estate sales since that first one.
I am still amazed by the behavior of some of the people who also attend these sales.  I have seen some people almost come to blows fighting over some little trinket.

I am still struck by what little value is placed on the once treasured belongings of grandparents and parents.  

 "My mother made these," the woman holding the garage sale told me.  She was referring to a big box of hand made Christmas ornaments.   "She would make a different one every year to hang on her tree," she said.

They were beautifully made.  Each one was carefully and individually wrapped in tissue.
I thought about how much time and effort went into each one.

I bought the whole box for $5.00.  Each year I bring out the box and hang the ornaments on my tree.  I feel as though I am paying respect to the memory of this crafty lady.



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