By BOB T. EPSTEIN
For The Vista
What is it that drives so many of us to spend a day looking at, and bidding on someone else’s old stuff? Bargains I guess, but I believe it’s a lot more than that.
From hair dryers to tractors, a box of rusting tools, old and new hand water pumps, to an automobile or even a house and land, auctions are a great way for many folks to quickly dispose of their earthly goods.
From time to time, we all have a yard sale, bring stuff to Salvation Army or other worthwhile non-profits, but an auction is a finality, with all goods, and our collected old stuff going on the block.
An auction is when we need to get rid of everything, and grab some sorely needed cash, or just cash out and move on period!
People like to watch other people bid on items, some of which they wish they could get at a “good” price, much of which they have no interest in at all, and wonder why anyone else does.
An auction is a happening. A whole culture has been built up around it too! We all know of the big guys like Christie’s and Sotheby’s that sell items often in the millions of dollars the top end of the auction sales dollars scale. However, for every one of their auctions, there are thousands of auctions all around the country selling beds, old cloth, books, silver, copper and brass sundries-you name it they sell it!
Hands go up and auction buyers number cards are flashed for a bid, many buyer wait for the very last minute, this is when the auctioneer counts down; “going once, going twice, going three times” -slams the hammer down and says: “sold.”
There’s usually a food vendor selling hotdogs, burgers and soda pop, and sometimes as I found at a recent fund raising auction for the Muddy Pond volunteer fire department, The Mennonite community ladies had pie selections that even now are making my mouth water just thinking about them. I passed on the burgers and dogs, and settled on the pies. I can still savor the shoofly, blueberry and coconut cream pieces I sampled for lunch that day, on my palate, and in my mind.
Hundreds of folks showed up for this yearly “happening” that featured horse tack, new hand made playhouses and sheds, electric tool and knife sharpeners (I bought one too) wagon wheels, wagons, furniture, lamps, useable automobiles and trucks, farm animals and equipment-even a mule.
I was happy to buy some tomato and pepper plants-I passed on the mule–thousands of items were donated and all of it sold in one day.
There were tourists, families with lots of children, housewives, day laborers, farmers, antique and used furniture dealers, collectors, and just about anyone who wanted a bargain (there were many) milling around the moveable feast of an auction.
Three auctioneers simultaneously were working the two acres of stuff that was piled and displayed everywhere, and it still took all day to sell everything. It was a really good auction and one of probably hundreds over my lifetime that I’ve attended, but it was also special in it’s own right.
As a fund raiser, it had variety, not seen at most auctions in it’s diversity and colorfulness, made up by peoples of interesting and varied religions and cultures, and of course being at Muddy Pond, a farming community that prides itself in fine home and shop crafted items; the whole feeling was old country communal and charming.
With lots of smiles and happy people all the way around, it made for a very enjoyable occasion. It was obvious that collectively and individually, everyone was having a great time, and that made it a very special experience for me too.
Several weeks after the auction, the 3-tomato plants I purchased to add to my home-started, 20 plants, had my “child-bride” and me, in red juicy sandwich slices for weeks.