"Go-on, go-on and play with them. They live across the street and they are the Gradys." It was my dad encouraging me and a couple other siblings to go outside to that lined up group of kids. We'd just moved in to the house at 63 Fairview Avenue, in Mount Pocono, PA. It was the summer of 1964.
My mother's family was in Ohio. Her 10th child was just 3 years old. I was too young at the time to realize what an adjustment it had to have been for her. But as the years went on, my mom developed her creative side. She'd always been a master seamstress, but living in rural northeatern PA, she became interested in antiques and collectables. "K's Dec-or -tiques" was the banner she asked me to make for her when she set up in the weekly flea market down on 611 just before Brocks drugstore. She would go to local auctions, and I would tag along. I was fascinated by the whole process. Mom would buy stuff - furniture, pictures, boxes of stuff, and turn it into treasures. Some of her specialties were trunks; she'd refinish the hardware, replace the lining. In later years, she lamented that the current trend was to keep as original condition as possible. She'd frequently say she regreted not knowing, then, not to ruin "the patena".
Whenever I hear someone mention an heirloom, antique or collectable and ask, "What do you think it's worth?" I hear my mother's response, "It's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it." Through the years we witnessed that with avon bottles and beanie babies.
But mom also taught me what to look for. I learned about furniture styles and periods, dovetail construction; how to sound the ring of cut glass; carnival glass, hobnail; reading the stamp 'sterling' .
Since I grew up with "antiqueing" and auctions, it was my passion that I introduced to my husband and children. Once Pete got the hang of it and understood the bidding process, he loved it. I still do.
Today I drove to Alva, Florida to attend an estate auction. I learned of the auction in the local weekly shopper. The ad gives a brief description of merchandise and the address date and time, and then their website. Alva is a community about an hours drive north east of here. Alva is your agricultural south central florida don't bother nobody community. The website had pictures of some of the items, and I focused on a bed frame (headboard, footboard and side rails), a wrought iron floor lamp, and some garden furniture and supplies. Preview was 9 AM and sale started at 10.
I woke shortly after 7 this morning. I felt pretty good, well rested. If I was to get to the auction by start of the preview, I would have to leave at 8:00... I wasn't so eager to rise and shine, but finally pulled out of the garage at 9:00 am.
When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do and where I wanted to live, I always kept Alva in the corners of my mind. There's some thing almost magical about Alva. Fields and farm animals ...flora fauna. Even this evening returning home, I mused about how nice it'd be to own a small cottage and some land in Alva.
I arrived shortly after ten, finding a fenced in hay field at the end of a gravel road that abutted a pen of pygmy goats. It looked like a parking lot, so, I pulled in. A young fella lanky and lean was walking through the entrance. " Think i can park in there?" I called to him. " Should be a spot right along that white van." he called back. I pulled in, parked, grabbed my bag and hopped out. "Oh no, ma'am - you can't park there - they wont be able ta get out..." another man called. "You might try up again' that red truck."
I walked into the yard... and it was the yard of a woman's home between her garages, pens, sheds and green houses. This was Alva. The auctioneer stood on a 3-step stool amidst feets of tables covered with rows of stuff. I've been to all kinds of auctions from the most common to the nearly most elite. This was the most common. and that was cool.
Merchandise went dirt cheap. He moved it. Most of the stuff was $3 $5 $10. Most of the first stuff was junk. There was a great amount of glassware. Glassware is highly collectible. I have more stinkin glassware than I ever could want, and, so, regardless of whether any of it was highly collectible, I was marginally interested.
Throughout the sale, it became apparent that there were a number of dealers. Some folks bought all kinds of stuff.. and a lot of all kinds of stuff. The auctioneer knew many of them by name. Some of my stunners: an oak drafting table sold for $45.00. A set of two solid oak, marble inset top square end tables sold for $25.oo for both. A full-size cedar armoir sold for $30.00. A cedar storage / hope chest sold for $20.00. I was paying attention to the furniture, but I know there had to have been stunners in the glassware. Fred Roenigk, the auctioneer, was moving it.
"Okay... let's bring the guns out." the aucti0neer called. Several folks slapped their pockets. "Whoa!" he called. "I'm in Alva! Can't call to bring the guns out! not knowing what folks'll do!" Folks chuckled to his humor. I'm not a gun collector, as a matter of fact I am repulsed by guns, but managed to realize that these guns were collectibles. I diverted my attention only to hear some fella come forward, and swiping his hand across his face, said, "Oh, I can't bid on those, I got me a record!" A woman next to me called, " Friends help friends bury the body!" I guess it was an 'inside' joke.
Iwas there until nearly 4:00 Pm. all the time, the auctioneer was on. That man worked hard for his money. Dang. I was tired just watching him! He was still going when I left. I was interested in the bed, but, upon seeing it, realized it was a king size, and my bed is a full size. I was willing to gamble on the size difference if it went cheap enough, but, there was a starter reserve bid of $300.00. ( it wasn't worth $300 to me). I cashed out, loaded my stuff and headed home.
I didn't mention the Christmas plates. I remember Pete's mom collected 7-inch, blue plates and had them hung in her family dining area. Today I saw a small stack of 4 of those plates. While the auctioneer was working his way through the pottery and glassware, he was anxious to move the stuff and get to selling the furniture in the house,. At one point, while moving through the tables, he asked, 'what else'. I said, "the Christmas plates" . I offered $10 and no one else bid. I could have lo-balled, but, why...they are Royal Copenhagen. I got 4 for $10, when 1 could sell for as much as $30.
I had a lot of fun today! The ironic twist here, tho, is...that today is the day of the 52nd annual Fort Myers Beach Shrimp Festival Parade! I don't think i've missed it ....ever....! (til now).