It was one of those fabulous old antebellum homes for which Madison is so well known. Off the main street, a couple of blocks back into the residential area. Academy Street.
In obvious need of exterior painting, and some roof repairs, it was nonetheless a grand old house. Twelve foot ceilings. Large rooms. Beautiful hardwood floors. And lot’s of quirks. Like the staircase with only a six foot clearance for heads.
But it wasn’t the outside of the house which had drawn me here. Or the others standing in line waiting to go inside. For me it was the things inside, treasures amassed over a lifetime by the last resident of the house. Now all for sale.
My understanding was that the last resident had, at age 98, slipped this mortal coil. Her family had sold the house, and was now parting with everything inside. Strange things you might find. Someone pointed out that there were hundreds of family photos. And even the guest book from the funeral. Small things can sometimes make big statements.
What I noticed was that there was a relatively small turnout for this sale. There were several people in the line that I recognized. Other estate sale junkies. Or antique dealers. There were plenty of treasures here indeed. The owner had obviously been a collector, on a small scale, all her life. And she had treasures from every time period, and from around the world. She seemed to like Asian items. I mention this only because that is something I always look for, and am excited to find.
Most of the crowd seemed to be local people. People who knew this woman. They wanted to see the inside of the house. And perhaps to claim something that would remind them of her. One woman wanted the handwritten recipe cards from the kitchen. Zero monetary value, but tremendous sentimental value of some sort.
There was also at least one family member there. She identified herself as such when told that the item she wanted was already sold to someone else.
Maybe she was family. Maybe not. That one thing that she had always wanted was somehow not willed to her, or passed along by closer family members. She found something else and was satisfied.
I have no ties to this person. Or to any of the people whose estate sales I go. I’m a collector and reseller and that is my purpose and interest in these items from someone’s life. I do often wonder what kind of person this might have been, and usually end up creating my own story about them. Everyone is a hero.
One day my estate will be sold off. I’m glad I won’t be there for that. But I will at least know the story behind every single item sold.
That’s part of my story. What’s yours?