For me, one of the indications that warm weather will be here awhile is when the yard sale and garage sale signs begin appearing on trees, telephone poles, and yard signs around the neighborhood. The Olde North and Clintonville neighborhoods have begun sprouting them, and, now that it’s easier for me to bring home my purchases (my trike has a large basket in the back), I’ve begun noting when and where these sales are happening, and planning my weekends (especially payday weekends) around them.
The major ones thus far have been the Righteous Rummage Sale last week and a friend’s book sale yesterday. The first took place in The Awarehouse, the bike repair bay and party hall located in the alley behind the Sporeprint Infoshop and the Third-Hand Bicycle Co-Op on East Fifth Ave. I have always been easy prey for any type of yard sale or rummage sale, but this rummage sale’s name was accurate. It was a fundraiser for Jessica Walker, a bartender at Zeno’s who suffered massive injuries (third-degree burns and smoke inhalation) in an apartment fire. She has no health insurance, and her medical bills are skyrocketing. This story, which ran in The Other Paper on April 26, gives more details. If you are interesting in contributing for her recovery, go to http://www.helpjessica.com.
My purchases at the Righteous Rummage Sale were both recreational and functional. I bought a two-disk set of What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead, a cassette of Genesis’ Invisible Touch (which I used to own on vinyl–even after I had started buying CDs almost exclusively), and a new knapsack. (I am brutal on knapsacks. My most recent one went to the trash because the zipper no longer worked. When I lived in Boston, in the early 1980s, I bought a canvas knapsack at Eastern Mountain Sports that lasted well into the 1990s.) The book selection was not that alluring. The only one I bought was the screenplay of Easy Rider, a movie which, even though I have seen it at least a dozen times, I do not own.
I went to another yard sale, closer to where I live, and went away from it empty-handed. However, it did make a lasting impression on me, because I think the family running it was lacking in common sense.
Like other people having yard or garage sales, they hung signs on the telephone poles and lampposts for a several-block radius around the house. The address was a big brick house on one of the many side streets between N. High St. and the Conrail tracks. There were odds and ends in the yard, everything from VHS tapes to baby clothes to knickknacks that probably originally appeared on the Home Shopping Network. I was only interested in a nightstand, which I thought Susie could use, but I learned that they had already promised it to someone.
The fact that there was nothing that interested me did not bother me. I’ve become more choosy at yard sales than I used to (gone are the days when I triumphantly bought a set of left-handed golf clubs–even though I have never played golf and I am right-handed. But they were only five bucks!!), and the pickings were slim at this one.
What did bother me (he gets around to, at long last) was that two girls, ages maybe nine and 10, were the only ones running the yard sale. The parents were nowhere in sight, and the girls were sitting at a little bridge table in the front yard, and they had a cigar box full of bills and coins in front of them. Without my asking, they volunteered there was more stuff for sale inside, and one of them followed me inside while I looked at what was for sale. They really gave me the hard sell about items for sale–the older of the two said they were moving really soon from this big house to a little apartment on Route 161, so I suspected they were facing eviction.
I am the polar opposite of a helicopter parent. Steph and I always gave Susie plenty of personal freedom, both in and out of the house. We did it when we were together, and this has continued (and the freedoms have increased with Susie’s age and maturity) once we split. Steph gives her plenty of freedom when she’s in Florida; I give her plenty of latitude here in Columbus. Part of this is due to the fact that I do not drive, so I could not be a chauffeur for Susie and shuttle her everywhere, even if that was my desire, which it is not. If she wants to get most places, that means either her own two feet or the bus. And no, every tree, alley, and bush does not secrete a rapist.
I write that to preface my concern that these two girls were left alone, with a box full of cash, and were inviting people they had never seen before into their house. The front rooms I saw were cluttered, but that didn’t faze me, since they were in the midst of moving. Even when Susie was younger, and she and her friends would set up little yard sales when we lived in Franklinton, I was never any further than the living room, within yelling or running distance should any crisis arise.
Even though I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation at the yard sale, I was still not going to be one of the alarmists who keep Job and Family Services on speed dial, ready to pillory any parent who allows a child outdoors two minutes after the streetlights come on.
The other yard sale I went to was a book sale conducted by a friend from church. He’s a rather erudite man, and his interests vary widely. This Saturday, Susie had an early lunch at McDonald’s and went to FedEx Office for her passport photograph (she is going to Costa Rica on a school trip next January), and once we came back home, I got on the trike and went over to the book sale. Once I made the trip, I was very sweaty, so before looking at any of the books for sale, I downed two or three glasses of water in single gulps, and resisted (barely) the temptation to pour the glasses over my head.
All books were $1 apiece, and I came away with five. Most of them were reference books, and one was The Good Years, by Walter Lord, a history book chronicling the years between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914. By the time I came home, I was sweaty and exhausted, and, as I was chaining the trike to the fence, I had to pull honeysuckle leaves and small branches out of the spokes of my wheels. And I stretched out onto the love seat in my living room and dozed for two or three hours. (This was not comfortable. I am only 5’8¾” tall, and my legs hung over the end, but I still slept quite well.)
This blog entry has been my reward to myself for cleaning the kitchen and emptying the refrigerator, a task I delayed until well after sunset. The house has central heating, but not central air, so I took the laptop out to the front porch, currently the coolest part of the house. I’ve downed a bottle of Everfresh cranberry juice, and I’m currently playing Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” (very apropos) while I type this entry. This is my third consecutive night of late nights. On Friday, Susie and I went to Studio 35 to see Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price in The Bat, hosted by the inimitable Fritz the Nite Owl. Last night, Susie went to The Other Prom, sponsored by the Kaleidoscope Youth Center. She went with a girl she met at Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp. The girl came up from Athens, and they went to the prom together. When they came back around 11:15, I was waiting with my camera to immortalize the moment. After Susie’s friend’s mother drove her daughter home, Susie said she was too exhausted to go to Studio 35 with me, so I locked the front door and walked up to the theater to see Nightmare Castle, a 1965 picture starring Barbara Steele and Paul Muller.
I took another nap when Susie and I came home from church and lunch, which means that now, at 1:07 a.m. (per my Casio wristwatch), I am wide awake. This is Memorial Day, so I have the day off from work, but it will not be easy or simple to get my sleep schedule back to where it should be when I have to wake up for work Tuesday morning. Susie will be going to Florida for the summer next Monday, after her Coming of Age presentation at church, and I will be missing her very much until she returns in August. I won’t be entirely idle, since I will be returning to the bookstore job the same day she leaves–a week of 13-hour days can keep me from ruminating too much about how much I will miss her. At the end of the summer, I plan to make my first trip to Florida to bring her back, although the dates and the logistics are nowhere near in place yet.