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5-27-05 Memories, Keepsakes, Estate Sales & “The End”

SAVANNAH MORNING NEWS:  We were elated, sure, to rid ourselves of the things, and, as the day unrolled, to take in thousands of dollars. But we were also watching a man's troubled life draining away like the outgoing tide, leaving us and the house, which is on the market, feeling desolate and bare. …..

AVOC

 

May 10, 2005

 

Memories, Keepsakes, Estate Sales & The End

 

By Wendell Dawson, Editor, AVOC, Inc.

 

An op-ed piece in the Savannah Morning News on April 23 about Estate Sales and “….watching a life recede like the tide…” caught my eye and brought back memories and experiences, some of which involved sales and sad times for families.

 

In the early years of my practice, many estate sales were conducted for land on the Courthouse steps.  Personal property and house furnishings were often sold at auction on the premises.  I remember attending such sales as a youngster growing up in Oconee County.

 

In my early years of law practice, I helped hold a number of estate auctions.   It was the fairer way, in the opinion of many, when there were several children and a large family.  Even then, bidders would frequently  “back off” when a family member bid.  I have seen many a kerosene lamp and pots and pans sold.

 

I remember a sale in the early to mid-seventies for the estate of a person who had taken her own life at a relatively young age- at least to me now.  We had an auctioneer, a big tent and a big crowd in the yard of the residence.   I remember a minister friend commenting to me how it was sad to see a person’s keepsakes and life’s accumulations go to bids.  In this particular case, previous marriages and children were involved, so a strict accounting was necessary. 

 

 

Mantel Clock

 

We have a mantel clock from that estate sale that has set on our corner hutch for the last 30 years.  The clock itself reminded me of the many such clocks at the home of my paternal grandparents, Hassie Daniell and Cliff Dawson on the Cliff Dawson Road at Watkinsville.   There were several such clocks that would chime and strike on the hour.   Those clocks were scattered among family members in two or three estate sales since.  However, the sound of those clocks striking is burned in my memory of a time when life simpler and family was more important to us all.

 

Some of us are more sentimental than others.  Some of us throw away everything and some of us save everything.   However, eventually, all the ‘worldly goods’ will pass on to others.  In many cases, there will be many memories to be cherished by friends and relatives who will often buy things at an estate sale for ‘keepsakes’.   It is really a part of my “Southern Heritage”.


4-28-05 Estate Sales End Long Lives of Memories and Keepsakes

 

The Savannah Morning News

http://www.savannahnow.com/stories/042205/2977890.shtml

 

April 23, 2005              COLUMN

 

Guest column: Sale of possessions like watching a life recede like the tide

By Doug Wyatt

My father, during his 78 years, often acquired. He never discarded.

When he died last December, he left behind mountains of books, lamps, pictures, records, tables, utensils, and sheer miscellanea. Which left his heirs with a problem: How do we return a pack rat's worldly goods to the world? What if the world doesn't want them?……..

As my mother's death - over a quarter of a century ago now - receded, my father's junk piles grew. His house, the place where we passed our childhoods, became in recent years a warren of cardboard boxes, cobwebs, broken-down furniture, and dust. ……

Which included thousands - and I mean thousands - of books, accumulated through his decades as a reviewer, friend of publishers, and chronic collector. The other day, on a sparkling spring day in middle Tennessee, we threw open the house to the estate-sale crowd.

Around dawn the birds of prey began to cluster in our driveway. When we finally opened the door at 8 o'clock, a line of folks, devout worshippers at the altar of acquisition, stretched across the front yard.

They wanted to buy everything.

"Is that stereo for sale?'' an early bird sharply asked, jabbing a finger at some forgotten equipment in a corner.

My brother and I swapped glances.

"S...sure," we said. "Why not?"

Moments later, the deal was done.

"What about that?'' asked a woman, picking up a bust of Beethoven atop my mother's piano.

"No, sorry,'' I replied. "Sentimental value."

"It should be for sale,'' she snapped, "if you have it out."

For hours, our customers jostled each other, reaching for pricey art volumes, biographies of Churchill, books on Tuscan cooking, gardening guides, second-rate novels, and histories of the Spanish-American War. After awhile, my brother-in-law and I scrambled up into the attic, grabbing more stuff we hadn't had time to fetch before. As we handed down boxes still draped in dust, the buyers clamored to see what was inside, to outbid each other for the dubious riches within.

We were elated, sure, to rid ourselves of the things, and, as the day unrolled, to take in thousands of dollars. But we were also watching a man's troubled life draining away like the outgoing tide, leaving us and the house, which is on the market, feeling desolate and bare. …..

Nor will I see Alice's book again. By day's end, like almost everything in the house where once we were laughing children, where my dad succumbed to the shadows, it was gone.

Doug Wyatt is a free-lance writer living in Savannah.


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