The Big Yard Sale: A Hundred Cars, a Little Bit of Cash, and a Whole Lotta Junk
(Copyright (c) 2010 Cynthia Shenette) I am sitting here, exhausted, typing in the debris-strewn aftermath of what the folks in town are now referring to as "The Big Yard Sale." I sold a lot of stuff, mostly household goods and kid stuff, and what's left is currently cluttering up my front hallway, kitchen, and garage waiting to go to Goodwill or be collected by the Big Brother, Big Sister Foundation truck next week.
About a month ago a woman in our neighborhood dropped fliers off around the neighborhood to inquire into the collective interest in a neighborhood-wide yard sale. Last week she notified those of us who responded that the yard sale was on. We live in an area with lots of families with young children so sellers and buyers were plentiful, particularly given the current economy.
All the prep for the yard sale made me think about all of the yard sales and flea markets I've done over the years. I, as well as many other bloggers, have written great posts about the stuff they have, the stuff they've kept, the stuff they've organized, and the stuff they're still trying to organize. See my series of posts, Letters and Photos and Stuff, Oh My!: Sorting Through a Loved One's Estate (Part 1). One thing I've never thought about too much, until now, is the stuff we throw away. What does our "trash" say about us?
For centuries archaeologists have examined, for lack of a better word, junk. The stuff that humans for one reason or another have determined they don't need or can live without. A great collective trash pile so to speak. From that trash pile archaeologists piece together, literally and figuratively, the stuff of people's lives.
With that thought, I tried to recollect what I and my family have tossed out over the years. Even though we don't own it any longer, what does the stuff we get rid of say about us and our lives? Do we regret our decisions to toss certain items away? For years my grandmother bemoaned the fact that she gave a Tiffany lamp to the junk man in the 1930's. According to her the lamp was "old-fashioned" and times were tough. My grandparents were struggling through the Great Depression, and the lead in lamp was worth more as bit of cash in hand from the junk man than the lamp itself was worth.
Other family items I've sold or tossed over the years include:
~ the books Poultry Raising in Your Back Yard and Celery Culture (I grew up in a city that at the peak of it's population in the 1950's hovered around 200,000.)
~ a wooden ironing board and a metal washing board
~ a Victrola cabinet without the Victrola
~ about 20 acrylic cardigans my grandmother was "saving for best" (Apparently best never came up...)
~ more dishes, glassware, plates, and platters than one family would EVER need (Mom said, "We did a lot of entertaining." Clearly. Does anyone really need three teapots, five cake plates/stands, and two hard boiled egg plates? Come on now...)
~ a huge number of religious items, such as prayer beads, crosses, and religious pictures, including several pictures of the pope (I can't remember which one.)
~ a variety of sporting goods, including golf clubs, a tennis racket, and exercise equipment
~ lots, and I mean lots, of doilies
~ an upright piano my grandmother bought for me for a $100 (I don't play the piano.)
~ DECADES worth of used wrapping paper and ribbons
~ hats, lots of hats
~ a moth-eaten beaver fur coat my mom bought in the 1940s
~ Funk & Wagnalls Encyclopedia (You know the one--cream volumes, black trim, gold lettering.)
~ Blue Willow section plates (My husband makes fun of my "food touching issues." What can I say? I come from three generations of people with "food touching issues." I don't like my peas in my mashed potatoes. )
Now if you were an archaeologist, and you looked at my family's trash pile, what conclusion would you come to about my family and me?
My husband and I did a "high five" last night when we realised someone took away the big TV at the end of our driveway with the "Free" sign on it. We'll save $25.00 trying to recycle it elsewhere. All in all, our participation in "The Big Yard Sale" was successful.
We made about $170.00, minus the $25.00 we spent to buy an old, kid's train table for my son's Legos. Oh, and $40.00 went to my son for his items. Believe me, he was keeping track of every dime. Oh, yeah, and $5.00 to give to the lady who organized the effort. So let's see $170.00, minus $70.00 is $100.00. If we add another $50.00 to that, we will have just about enough money to pay the junk dealer to come and haul the rest of our unusable stuff away.
What have you trashed? I really want to know...