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Entries in garage sales (1)


Garage Sale Memories

We're having a yard sale today. I'm even set up with our Square Reader in case someone says, "Well, I'd love to buy that quesadilla maker with a busted latch, but I only have my debit card." Heck, I can even take ApplePay!

I keep referring incorrectly to this activity we're engaged in today as a garage sale, even though we don't actually have a garage. Kathy reminds me that it's a yard sale. Of course, technically, we're not out in the yard either because (1) we live in a garden home/condo, and there's not much yard to speak of; and (2) it's raining, so we're under the awning.

In fact, it's downright cold. The rain and fairly strong breeze brought with it 57° temperatures. If yard sales are a Spring event, no one sent an invitation to the Spring weather. I'm sitting outside under our awning typing this on my MacBook and my fingers are starting to get numb. I should really stop, but I had two distinct memories of garage sales from when I was younger that I thought I'd share. 

When I was a kid growing up in Louisiana, we regularly had garage sales. Although, we didn't have a garage back then either. We had a carport. Everyone had carports instead of actual garages. If you don't know what a carport is, think of a garage with at least one side completely open and no door. Our garage sales were in the carport, straying out into the driveway a bit. All that to say, I'm going to use the term "garage sale" throughout this post, even if it's not technically correct then or now. 

Back then, we often had combined garage sales with the Jarrell family next door. When we did that, there wa a rule that they couldn't buy any of our stuff, and we couldn't buy any of theirs. If we were trying to get rid of stuff from our house (and make a little money on the side), buying anything from them--or vice versa--was supposedly counter-productive. However, as with all house rules in life, they're not always hard and fast in the moment. 

My first significant garage sale memory had to do with what got sold that wasn't supposed to be for sale. We kept stuff in the carport like lawn mowers and a cabinet for my dad's tools. We also kept my chalkboard set in the carport. Evidently, I had been a bit too messy with the chalk at some point and from then on, all my chalk work had to be done outdoors. As I think back to that garage sale when my chalkboard was sold without my consent, I have to admit that I can't remember whether I was right there when it happened or not. I have to think that I would have said, "Hey, that's not for sale!" However, I also have this complete memory of what transpired. Here's how I remember it whether or not the exact details are merely fictions of my imagination. 

Here's how it plays out when I think back to the events: There was this well-to-do looking woman looking at my mother's clothes hanging on a rack. Not seeing anything she wanted, she glances around our carport. Spotting my chalkboard set, she says, "Oh my! How much for that?!" My mother starts to say, "It's not..." but then catches herself. Always the shrewd businesswoman, she says, "It's $2." And then the woman calls her son over who is absolutely delighted to see his new chalkboard set. The woman pays my mother (out of a coin purse, the way I remember it), and her son proudly carries my chalkboard set with both arms wrapped tightly around it, beaming with joy.

Again, I don't know if the above is how the event actually transpired. However, I have this exact image of the woman who absconded with my chalkboard set clearly in my mind. I also remember what her son looked like. If I ever see either of them, I'm going to explain it was all a mix up and ask for my chalkboard set back. Who knows? Maybe this was a turning point in my life. Had it not been for my chalkboard set being sold without my consent, perhaps I would have kept drawing with chalk. Maybe I would have practiced every day and be a famous chalk artist now. People would spend great amounts of money to fly to the places where my newest masterpiece was displayed--before it could be washed away by the next rainstorm!

Truthfully, I'm not really resentful (anymore) over the chalkboard set. But it is something I occasionally use to tease my mother. And it's a good lesson to me to make certain I look through any items that we put out for garage sales these days. Who knows when Kathy will think that old desk lamp with the chipped shade would be better off out of our house? Then, how would I see anything on my desk?

I remember something else from my childhood about garage sales. I was in 9th grade at the time. At home, we had spent a good bit of the week getting things ready for the upcoming garage sale on Saturday. I had gone through my closet and the rest of the room debating whether I really needed various things like the sneakers that were my favorite but now no longer fit my growing feet. Garage sales could be pretty big productions. We didn't just throw it all together on Friday night like I tend to do now. And so, the garage sale was the most prominent event in my mind that week. On Friday morning at school, when we were in home room, our teacher asked if anyone else had any announcements that should be mentioned before the weekend. I raised my hand and said, "We're having a garage sale this weekend. Everyone come on out."

One of my classmates--who shall remain nameless--very quickly put me in my place: "Mansfield, nobody wants any of your old crap." I'm sure he was right, but it took me by surprise. It might be old crap, but I thought it was special because it was my old crap. 

We had a steady stream of shoppers this morning at our yard sale, but ever since it began raining, they have been few and far between. Surely, we would be sold out of everything by now if it hadn't rained. Or maybe it's simply still true that nobody wants my old crap.