Sunday Morning Magazine
Yesterday, was a day of Carolina Blue skies, refreshing temperatures, a breeze that whisked fall leaves away from trees, and a jaunt out and about that brought unexpected pleasures and treasures.
That was certainly a mouthful of a sentence.
Still recovering from the gall bladder surgery, and feeling a bit less than I had the days before, Nick and I took Winston to camp and decide to drive to an antiques place I had been to on one of my solo escapades.
We didn’t have an agenda, except I wanted to find a chair or two to redo, well, actually, design fabric for, and get redone. The key to doing that is finding really, really good prices on the chairs.
It is fun to have a general idea of something to look for. It gives a bit of a focus or purpose to a gadabout.
We drove toward Gastonia, NC, to Gaston Pickers.
On the way, we pass a section of Gastonia that is lovely. Gastonia has had its problems, like so many other southern towns. The textile mills are gone, and so is much of the economy.
But left behind, are some beautiful houses. And on a two block stretch, harbored beneath giant oak trees, lies some houses that have past the time of their grandeur, but still strike a stunning, imposing pose.
While driving by that street, we noticed a slew of folks going in and coming out of a house. Cars were parked all over. People were carrying things from the house.
Oh, sweet magnolia pie, it was an estate sale.
We found a parking space and bolted, as much as two persons, one just off a gall bladder surgery, and the other, with Parkinson’s can bolt.
We weren’t sure of the proceedings, but within two-seconds, we were inside this grand, outdated house, eyes agog at all of the things for sale.
People were everywhere inside, looking, peeking, scouring, for treasures and pleasures.
And we joined them.
What a magnificent house this once had been. It still had good bones, but needed updating, probably mechanics and maintenance.
Room by room we looked.
In the small kitchen was a woman who was helping with the sale. I asked her about the people who had lived there.
“It’s really a sad story,” she said.
“It thought it might be,” I said.
“The people were elderly and the wife got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And then the husband died. The three grown sons didn’t want anything from the house, so, here we are. The woman is in a care facility.”
A familiar sadness came over me. I think it was a sadness, or maybe it was just a feeling of the inevitable part of life. It was a bit of the feeling I had when we had a house sale at my parent’s house, after my mother died.
People were having a good time at the sale, rummaging through my parent’s things, a lot of my mother’s stuff, and they were giddy.
I was not. It was as though I was watching my mother’s life go up the stairs and out the door bit by bit.
Outside the kitchen door was a large linen closet that was stuffed with placemats and tablecloths.
I love those things but never want to buy them because I think they charge too much for them.
I stood in the hallway and went through the stacks, pulling more and more into a stack for myself. Ooh, this. Wow, that.
Nick looked at me going to town and said he would be walking around.
Still in earshot of the kitchen, I heard a woman crying. She told the estate lady that she had been okay until she saw the owner’s wedding dress. She had been in that wedding, she said.
I gulped and kept sorting, adding up the cost in my head, but soon getting to the point where I decided I would offer a price for the lot.
After that, I carried my stash with me. Upstairs I went. The foyer was great. It was open and large and one could make a grand entrance down the stairs.
I am certain that many grand entrances had been made throughout the years.
Upstairs, the husband’s clothes were still hating in closets. Rooms were stacked with boxes of Christmas villages and items of every sort.
Nick looked in pockets for treasures. He found a receipt for a burial. My hands were full so I looked only with my eyes. I was contingent with my goods. I would get the vapors if I found much more.
We made our way downstairs and back to a couple of rooms we had been through before. I simply wanted to look at the house. It was built at a time when things were built to last. There was style and substance.
I went to the front porch and got in the long line to check out. Others had their goodies in their hands. A couple of guys talked about how they had voted already. One wore a Trump/Spence cap.
As I usually do, I listened to conversations. I checked out what people were buying. One man had a new train set. His wife had a stack of Christmas villages. Another lady had blouses. And yet, another had books. Oh, the books at that sale.
We all stood in the shadows of a great oak tree. I pictured that house, that street, in its heyday. Glorious. In my mind it was cocktails and glamor and no one hand problems and the community was bursting with economic gusto.
And people didn’t get Alzheimer’s and die.
In my head, I new I had over a hundred doors in $2.00 pieces. Probably $150.00. I also knew that I didn’t want to pay that much, so I would do what Frank, on A”American Pickers” likes to do … bundle.
When it was my turn, the line was still long. I thought I’d do the cashier a favor as I put all of my goods on the table. It would have taken a long time to add all of the stuff, so I said, “Will you take $50.00 cash for this?”
She didn’t think but a second and said, “Yes.”
I handed her the cash and re-piled the linens in my arms.
I walked on the brick sidewalk, beneath the big oak, and waited on the curb for Nick to pick me up. More people parked and walked toward the house.
What others were searching for, I don’t know. Was it a special something? a bargain to end all bargains? Something for nothing? Or just a glimpse into a house and the lives of others?
It was a wonderful morning, a great adventure. Looking and buying treasures was fun. But the backstory? It was a completion of the circle of life for a wife and a husband … a family. There were emotions and stories with everything any of us who bought something touched.
And now, I am connected to those people, the people who lived in the grand house. They will never know me, but I will know a little about them, through what they left behind.
PS … I will tell you about the chairs I found … some other time.