October 22, 2013


When I was 9 or 10, my Grandfather (Dido to me) and I used to drive around Welland on Saturday mornings looking for yard sales.  He would smoke a big stogie (Muriel Magnum) while hunched over the wheel of his beater.  My Nana wouldn't let him smoke in the "nice" car and so whenever we drove together it was in a haze of blue smoke.  Dido's eyesight was terrible - he could barely stay on the right side of the road - and we occasionally jumped the curb, but this was living!

Back then, in the late 70's / early 80's, yard sales were a different animal.  First and foremost, we didn't live in a throwaway society like we do today, and so there were a lot less things to buy.  Dido was on the lookout for tools, broken lawn mowers (that he would fix and resell), junky bicycles (that he would fix and resell) and other "manly" things.  I loved riding around with my Grandfather; I loved his crappy car, I loved the smell of his cigar.

More often than not, there was a hand-lettered FOR SALE sign in my grandparents' driveway in front of a line of bicycles, a lawn mower or two and maybe some furniture.  I am not sure that Dido made much money from these sales; I think he did it for fun.  And he would often give the stuff away for nothing.  At his funeral, a sobbing couple showed up, and told us about his generosity, how he had loaned them money interest-free.  This was the kind of man he was.  

My Mom also used to drag me to flea markets and auction sales, often against my will.  She would hold up strange items of unknown provenance and ask: "do you know what this is used for?"  Over time, I became much better at this game and now I do the same thing with my own kids.  I am sure that they despise it as much as I did.  :-)

Here is a picture of one of my own mystery objects, which I have yet to identify.  Purchased at the Goodwill for $3, it begged to come home with me.

I think it's a weight of some sort.  It's solid wood on the bottom and there is a loose iron ring on top.  The ring is attached to the block of wood by a scalloped base:

Anyone have an idea what this is?  I suppose I can use it as a weapon - wallop the kids with it.


The first thing I can remember buying at a junk sale with my own money was a pink rhinestone bracelet for $4.  It looked a bit like this:

The bangle was pretty and delicate -- everything I was not!  I held on to the bracelet for more than twenty years, never wearing it, but occasionally removing it from my jewellery box, putting it on my wrist and admiring my arm.  When I began selling junque on ebay in the late 90's, I decided to sell the bracelet.  It sold for $240.  I was quite pleased with the profit.  The woman who bought it was thrilled:  she had a vast collection of deco bangles.  I could tell you all sorts of stories about the things I've sold on ebay and the $ I've made, but that is not what this blog entry is about.  It's about serendipity!

On the weekend, Gwen and I went to the Goodwill By the Pound store to look for fabric for her Hallowe'en costume (mummy).  The store used to be called Buck a Pound, but inflation has necessitated a name change :-)  I was disgusted by the crowds and the filth and was not in the mood to scrounge.
N.B: If you ever go, wear gloves!

So I walked around observing people, which was entertaining and occasionally revolting.  I found a book for Nath, which he LOVED.  He has devoured the rest of this series:

And then I spied this, in a bin full of junk:

I almost fell over.

We didn't have a lot of records when I was a kid.  Wait, let me rephrase, we did have a lot of records, but we weren't supposed to play them.  This record was my FAVOURITE.  My absolute favourite.  I played it incessantly when I was 6 or 7.  I know the words to every song on the album and their order:  as the Great Pretender wanes, I know that Rock Around the Clock is up next.

There were only 4 additional albums at the buck-a-pound that day and I am kicking myself for not buying the sealed Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass; however, I think that I was meant to find this recording.

The kids and I played the record non-stop, until R screamed: "I can only take so much. TURN IT OFF!" He was actually quite pissed.  We laughed.  I guess he's not a fan of 50's and 60's music.

The kids' favourites are Sugar Shack (just like their Uncle Ian) and Wipeout.  Here's the record and player set up in my living room, K-tel style.  Sorry there are no pictures of G and I doing the twist.

So I guess I should have some sort of point to conclude this entry with.
Thrifting is fun and profitable?
She who digs through trash finds treasure?

How about a quote from Macklemore?

I wear your granddad's clothes,
I look incredible,

I'm in this big ass coat,
From that thrift shop down the road...


Here is some information about the Buck a Pound:  http://info.london.on.ca/details.asp?id=13072

And because I love my tunes, here's a sampling of Sugar Shack by Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs (1963):

And my fave, Chantilly Lace by the Big Bopper:

Addendum:  a day after I wrote this entry, I went to the Goodwill and hit the record goldmine!  

  • Beach Boys Endless Summer
  • Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits
  • Fleetwood Mac Rumours
  • Sharon, Lois and Bram One Elephant, Deux Éléphants
  • Chubby Checker Your Twist Party
  • Queen News of the World
And only a buck a pop!