Dusty Treasures

I’m a sucker for an estate sale.  Literally, a sucker.  I go to them and feel an obligation to buy something, as I watch strangers manhandling the treasures that took a lifetime to accumulate.  I wonder, with something akin to reverence, what the story is behind by this tablecloth or that punch bowl, and I shudder–just a little–to think of someone shopping through my own possessions someday.

So when the house a few doors down from me held an estate sale beginning Thursday, I felt that obligation to go.  To tread with respect.  To appreciate the dusty volumes of books.  And to take something into my house and acknowledge that it lived a life somewhere else.  I never knew these particular neighbors, though I knew they were an older couple.  They have a flag pole in front of their house that always flew the American flag the right way–lighted at night and taken down in the rain.  I always thought that said something interesting about them.  (And I realize that this is the point where many of you are shaking your heads and thinking I need to get over this degree of sentimentality.  My husband would agree with you.  But it’s a deep-seated quirk of mine, and it ain’t goin’ anywhere.) 

I went the estate sale on Thursday, but I noticed with dismay that their prices were too high.  I may be a sentimental fool, but I’m also a cheap sentimental fool.  So I browsed through the treasures and tried to get a feel for who these people had been.  The husband was a Shriner and a lifelong Boy Scout volunteer with a penchant for philosophy and woodworking.  The wife loved to entertain, did beautiful needlepoint, and clearly Halloween was her favorite holiday.  I didn’t buy anything, but I swore I’d be back–Saturday (today) was half-price day.

Today I left with an armful of treasures and a sense of satisfaction I’d given these people the respect they deserve.  AND I’d done it at half-off (though I confess a part of me feels guilty for that).  Here is what I found:

These two shelf units, very dirty but SO sturdy, which will look great repainted in the kids’ rooms, $5 for BOTH:


This 1939 edition of Bartlett’s Book of Quotations, for $1:Book

This piece of Christmas needlepoint in a broken frame (I can fix it easily) for $2.50 (it’s upside down in this picture):


And this great little stainless steel tray, very heavy, for only fifty cents: Tray

And so, yes, I’m all giddy about my tremendous bargains, but I’m happy to know these things will have a little more life in them yet. 

Posted in: Fun

21 thoughts on “Dusty Treasures

  1. Neighbor Jane says:

    “So when the house a few doors down from me held an estate sale beginning Thursday, I felt that obligation to go. To tread with respect. And to take something into my house and acknowledge that it lived a life somewhere else.” I loved this phrase…yes, yes…I agree. And 1/2 off? Listening to your neighbors, I think they would have wanted THAT. I also agree that a flag flown with dignity speaks volume. Mine doesn’t always fly with such grace.

  2. Heather says:

    I love estate sales, antiques, flea markets, I love the thought of loving hands having touched these items and maybe loving them.
    I got a few yard sale treasures today – but I think you got the better ones. 😉

  3. Christy in TN says:

    Wow! Fantastic deals. I LOVE those bookshelves. Can’t believe someone didn’t snatch those before they were half price! What nice additions to your home.
    I’ve seen lots of estate sales posted but haven’t been able to go to one yet. You’ve inspired me not only with your deals but with the idea of feeling the history and life of the pieces.

  4. Shannon, in Arizona says:

    Yeah I would feel pretty much the same as you did. And even worse about getting it half off….BUT I am cheap too….. I LOVE the clearance at Target! I always walk the back of Target before walking through Target….And a deal is anything 4 bucks and under….LOL
    I love the shelves too…..those can be very costly…when I saw the book I thought to myself we will see Shannon on Antique Roadshow and that book will be 1,000 dollars…LOL

  5. Addie says:

    Things are just things, until we acknowledge their history. Otherwise, they’re just one more thing to dust.
    I LOVE your sentimentality! And your eye for a good bargain.

  6. Tracie says:

    My husband is very into estate sales, yard sales, etc. I am just starting to appreciate them. It looks like you got some good deals out of this one (especially those shelves).
    I always notice how people treat their flags-it’s a wierd thing I do.

  7. mom2fur says:

    I’m thinking of all the work that went into that Christmas picture! How nice that it will still be enjoyed for years to come!
    Recently, I watched a movie called Skeleton Key. Not great, but not bad as horror movies go. In the beginning, the girl is working in a retirement home. When one of her ‘patients’ dies, all his worldly belongings are put in a box to return to the family. But…the family doesn’t want it. So she has to go outside and throw out the box labeled “Mr. Jones” in the Dumpster. And she sees a dozen other boxes…all the trappings of lives that will be forgotten. It got me thinking that I’m really glad I have some things from my dad and my mil, as well as other relatives. Imagine every single trace of your life (barely enough to fit a cardboard box) tossed away and forgotten…

  8. flipflopmamma says:

    I recieved a trial issue of this magazine called Midwestern Living (since I’m in Illinois) and there was this cool article about this woman who would go to auctions, sales and antique malls and buy all this old stuff and use it around her house in cool ways. Like she’d use that heavy tray as the top of an end table or something. She had some really cool ideas. Good job on the great finds!!

  9. Jules @ Everyday Mommy says:

    You know, hunting at estate sales really teaches you that they just don’t make things the way they used to. All of the tables in our formal living room were purchased at antique stores as was our bedroom outfit, a very old Duncan Phyfe-style, solid mahogany set.
    Bravo, Girlfriend!

  10. chilihead says:

    Shoot! I totally forgot about that sale and it being 1/2 off day. I’m soooo disappointed I didn’t get over there to peruse the Halloween stuff. 😦

  11. Susanne says:

    “I may be a sentimental fool but I’m a cheap sentimental fool” LOL. You’re also a riot. You made me look at estate sales in a whole new way. I’ll forever pause to do some reflecting on the people behind the stuff after reading this. And I’m loving the shelves for only $5.00?!!

  12. Mary says:

    I’m just as sentimental. I recently bought a piggy bank from an estate sale for $1. I wonder where he has been, how he broke his ear and if he was cherished. If not he is now.

  13. Jan says:

    My husband and I are also big fans of estate sales, garage sales, yard sales, flea markets. That’s how we furnished our house (when be had one, before full-time RVing). It always makes me sad to see the things that someone lovingly created treated like junk. On the other hand, I’m a packrat. If it belonged to my mother, brandmother, mil, great aunt, I just can’t let it go. It’s like a little piece of their lives still lives in mine.

  14. Carol says:

    1/2 price day at the estate sale is where I love to be.
    For someone who hates shopping as passionately as I do, I love going through people’s old stuff. Estate sales rock!

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