One hot summer day in 1991 I rode with my auctioneer in an old red beat up pickup truck to a home also in the same condition. We’d won a bid via probate court to clean out any and all items that were salable and many were. Since I knew in advance that the house had roaches, I opted to wear knee hi boots, a long sleeve blouse, jeans tucked into the boots and rubber gloves. Heaven forbid, a baby roach would touch me! Thankfully, I escaped undefiled!
The small white bacon grease smelling, disheveled, shingled 1930’s style house clearly stated, no almost screamed of a sadness that roamed about. I recall feeling and envisioning a story-like sadness, where perhaps the mother cleaned nearby office buildings or took in laundry too tired to clean her home properly, when finally home from a hard days work. Her hair possibly washed once per week, piled upon her head in a bun while wearing a dingy white rag like scarf dirty from each weeks work. The father perhaps walked to and worked down the way at the carriage factory, on the other side of the hi-way, just making it by week after week. Late in life the mother gave birth to a baby girl, the only child they had. Sadly the baby girl, I was told, was a slow sort mentally, but ever so kind as were the parents.
This daughter, when in her teens begged friends and her parents to chauffeur her via the local bus to the Arena (built in 1929-closed in 1994) when boxing stars and or country western singer’s came into town. There, I was told she’d lean up against the stage, beg for signatures, like many, to be placed on the free pictures given to all as they entered the Arena. She apparently went often gathering quite a mound of signed pictures, of which I kept. Here’s a signed postcard by Jack Dempsey 1957 and a pair of advertising size boxing gloves he signed…..pretty cool!
The auctioneer had no problem digging in the mounds of smelly household items. One of the finds were many cobalt blue small pitchers advertising Shirley Temple, the sweet singer/tap dancer that I and the masses fell in love with. And watched on the silver screen and or TV during my years.
As the auctioneer pulled items out, I’d wash them at the large white porcelain sink, making darn sure I never touched the sink with my body. No, no roaches bothered the sink, but many scurried away as we walked about and he searched. Each time I washed an item, I carried it to the truck to pack it for our future sale.
You might wonder why I’d take on such a horrific job. Well, I had and have four children and by golly I’d do whatever it took to take care of my babies even if once in a while the estate was a falling down, smelly old place filled with valuable vintage items. Yep, I’d do it and did, proudly so!
I never know what treasures and stories await me when commissioned with each estate sale. Two weeks from now I’m handling a St. Louis city 2-story red bricked church. What will I unfold then?