Estate Sale, Free for One Hour


A friend in our 100+ member singles’ ski club sent an email last night.  “I am the lawyer for an estate in Walnut Creek. House must be cleared out. Everything free for one hour tomorrow – 12:30 to 1:30.”

I saw the email and responded, “I am looking for tea cups!”

The next day Grace and I got there early. People were lined up with boxes. I knew almost everyone in line. We discussed what we were there for, based on the email photos. The estate-sale woman wouldn’t let us in until our lawyer friend got there. He pulled up, surprised to see all of us.

“The scavengers are here,” I said.

He walked in, and we followed. Laurel complained that she’d gotten there first. I held back so she could go in front of me. Her box had tape, rope, bags, everything she could possibly need.

My friend, Grace, carried a small box. I had a big one. Everyone went right into the big main room, so I went left into the bedrooms. The first one had a big lamp with brown crystals and tiny yellow lamp shades, super funky in a cool kitschy way. I unplugged it and headed out to my car in the rain. I popped it into the back seat and went back in. I went left to the second bedroom. No one was in there. I popped a couple of vintage hand mirrors and a jar of buttons into my box. Then I added a little pink bear for Sis and headed to the third bedroom. The closets were filled with magazines and clothing, but the paneling made it too dark to see what was in there.

I got to the big room with a real tree growing through the roof. The dark room was filled with tables covered with stuff. I plucked a tiny antique doll from one table and headed to the kitchen. There were lots of goodies there — a small red enamel pan and some tea cups with saucers.

I met up with Grace in the next big room lined with books. People were saying hello as they raced out the front door with their treasures so they could hurry back in for more. The estate lady was laughing at our scavenger ways. It’s amazing how good things look when they’re free.

People kept coming in the door. It was slim pickins by 1:15.

My friend Margo had rounded up several pieces of furniture. She was making a pile on the front porch. My low back had been hurting all week, so I bypassed many tables with marble tops — too heavy. I picked up a low tiled table for a porch, perfect for plants. Margo told me that she wanted it, but she already had so many pieces of furniture.

I asked Grace to sit in a carved highbacked chair with a rattan seat to claim it. I never would’ve paid money for it, but you know, free.

I found Wedgewood tea cups, a 100-year-old Bible, a brown tea pot, four pink and white Limoges soup bowls, a Haviland platter, a floral enamel box with lid, an old tin, and another lamp with crystals hanging from it.

I ran another box to the car while Grace stood over my pile. Then I took the low tiled table to the car, and an orange vintage stool.  The car was filling up fast. I asked Grace if she’d be willing to hold a lamp on her lap. Then I spotted two cubed marble book ends. I had to have those, even if they were heavy.

I took a set of brightly colored flannel sheets and found an antique walnut box with three drawers in one of the dark closets the second time around.

Right before we left, I found four bottles of Pinot Grigio and a box of liquor on the top shelf of a closet. It was too heavy for me to get down, so Patrick did it. People gathered ‘round and grabbed the bourbon and wine. I don’t drink anymore, so no loss there.

I found a red boiled-wool sweater which I may or may not keep, but you know, free.

Grace and I left with the last of our treasures. She found an umbrella, a resin leopard and a towel. I had 20 tea cups to resell, plus all the other stuff mentioned above. We did it in an hour, a fun distraction to a dreary-weather day, plus Grace and I got to gab on the drive in both directions.

Thanks, John!

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