- Anderson Valley
- Mendocino County
by Jessica Ehlers, April 14, 2013
I heard about it from a friend who, heard it from a friend who… no that’s a song. This is a story about what happened earlier today.
My friend told me she was hitting up an estate sale. We were out doing errands and I texted her to see where it was. She gave me cryptic directions, reassuring me it was well marked. So I followed them up north of Cleone, passed Little Valley Road to where the signs begun.
It was so far up the hill, veering by every house to the top of the hill. There must have been a view somewhere but by the time we arrived, my head was down looking at all the historic artifacts from a long life as husband and wife.
The people at the estate confirmed they were not relatives but hired by the lawyer to run the sale. I suppose that was why they were not hiding all the treasures, saving them for themselves.
I am not an avid garage-saler but I am fascinated by relics from bygone days. The first places my kiddo and I went to investigate were the sheds. The sheds held everything from records to a lifetime supply of Christmas detritus to whole sets of beauty creams from 1962.
The books. Well when you see below you will see I was unable to pass them by. My son said he would count down from 15 and then we have to keep moving, mom. So I just grabbed one. It was an automotive guide for cars and trains. Why? Because old books are like seashells on the beach. That’s as close to a reason as I can give you.
Next we went downstairs where there were 50 old light fixtures and then bulbs for them in a box. Next to those were radios of every size from the kind that used to be as big as a hutch where all our televisions sit today. The cords were bound in cloth. The craftsmanship. The hard plastics that were used if plastic was used at all. Then I saw it. A strange box with an even stranger contraption inside. An altimeter. No, I did not know what it was but it was in perfect condition, with the same cloth-bound wires at the back and for $1.50 I decided to purchase it for my dad. Maybe he will like it?
If you don’t know what an altimeter is, you’re not alone. It is what one uses in an airplane to figure how high you are. It’s a pretty awesome gift if you think like me. Maybe you don’t. That’s cool too.
At this point we were informed there was a whole two story house behind the garage to check out. I sighed. “You ready kiddo?” “Yep, he said to me.” So we went in. We could see the pile of creepy old decorative dolls peering at us from the living room but we went in anyway. The stack of leather gloves in every color proved to small for me. I felt like Goldilocks as I tried, though. I always thought I had little hands. Apparently, hers were smaller.
Whomever she was she liked dolls and to embroider everything. We went upstairs where I found a vintage black taffeta dress that has structure to it. A dress with structure? Yes. I did not bother to try it on. Years of vintage shopping in my youth taught me that some things you just buy. This was one of those items.
In the kitchen we found some practical items; four glasses I hope don’t have lead, an oddly shaped steel bowl and a china teacup and saucer to add to the mismatched collection I inherited from Grandma Betty.
As I paid for my items, I was shocked. I got change from the $10 I provided him with. He also told the kiddo to grab some stuffed animals and the kiddo took time finding the two he wanted under a pile that was not quite as big as my car.
All these things that belonged to them now belong to me and countless others. Their home with and all their belongings out on display, for sale, for people like me to re-purpose in our own lives, to build our own stories with. One of the things I did notice was in the upstairs bathroom, was a print of an old favorite of a poem: “When I am old, I shall wear purple.” That was for sale as well and I almost bought it but it seemed over the line somehow.
So we loaded up the car and headed back home.