It’s that time of year when “yard sale” and “garage sale” signs are a common sight. We drove through a neighborhood yard sale last weekend, where neighbors had decided to increase their traffic by having all their yard sales on the same weekend. One man’s junk is another’s treasure, and I’ve bought my share of both junk and treasure over the years. We all have knickknacks and odd items scattered in our homes, neither beautiful nor particularly useful, which guests could never guess the true value of. None of the items below will be in a yard sale as long as I’m alive.
My brother bought this cut-glass bowl on a pedestal at a neighbor’s garage sale when he was five or six years old. He bought, with his own money, some little trinket for each of us—Mama, Daddy, my sister, and me—even though no one told him he had to. There were many days growing up when I would have gladly sold my younger brother and sister for a nickel. But this memento of my (sometimes) sweet baby brother currently sits on my dresser.
This tattered ship’s model of Christopher Columbus’s Santa Maria sits on the front edge of a bookshelf crammed full of books. My grandma Josie won it for having the biggest catch of the day on a deep-sea fishing excursion in Florida. I remember it holding pride of place on a shelf in her living room. As far as I know it was the only prize she ever won. It pleased me (and her, too, I suspect, that she caught a bigger fish than Granddaddy that day!) She was a kind, but quiet woman, who taught me how to float on my back in the swimming pool and to plunge my face underwater without being afraid of drowning. She and her sister, my Aunt Della Mae, taught me how to play gin rummy—and let me win. There’s a scene in Death Crashes the Party where a little girl races ahead to the duck pond in Liv’s trailer park as a grandmotherly figure trails behind her, carrying a Wonder Bread bag with stale bread bits to feed the ducks. That little girl was me!
This pipe, cracked and held together with tape, belonged to my father. He gave up smoking, thankfully, many years before he passed away. But as a child, I remember him standing on our porch in the evenings, smoke rising in puffs from his pipe. The aroma of some of the tobacco varieties he smoked were intoxicating to me, with woodsy scents and notes of cherry. Someday, I plan to encase the pipe and other small mementoes of my dad’s in a shadow box for display. It’s sixteen years since he died, and I still can’t bring out these items without breaking down sobbing. So, they reside in a box on a closet shelf. But whenever I need to feel close to Daddy, I tightly clutch this pipe through which his breath has passed.
At a yard sale, these family artifacts would probably fetch less than a dollar. But for me, they’re priceless.
Do you have any items in your home that are not necessarily expensive, but of great sentimental value to you? Or have you bought something at a garage sale that you’ve always wondered about the story behind it?