Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Estate Sales

  I went to an estate sale a couple of weeks ago.  The farm was being sold and the owners were gone, leaving adult children to handle the sale.  Parking the car I approached the house with a silent reverence.  The property was lined with  old chairs that could no longer hold a person, beds that were in pieces waiting for a new home, and empty planters that once held prize flowers.
I entered the house and was greeted by items I could have found in my grandparents home.  The walls were lined with spice drawers, decorative plates, and old stitch-work written in German.  Pie safes, cabinets that preceded refrigerators, were against the wall in the kitchen long since without a pie to keep safe from pests or sneaking fingers.    
The kitchen led into a dining room where the table was laden with dishes that were available for purchase.  I wondered how many meals had been eaten at the table using those dishes.  How many celebrations, Sunday dinners, and Christmas meals were eaten there.    
To the right of the dining room was the entry hall that also served as a front parlor.  The floor was covered in various braided rugs and older hook and eye rugs that would have kept feet warm during the winters.  A music room was off to one side of this room, complete with a square grand piano.  I have only seen one other square grand in my life, at a living history museum in Cimarron, New Mexico.  The square grand in front of me what almost as large as a pool table and equally as heavy.  The walls were decorated with mandolins and sheet music waited on a side board to be used again.
The mistress of the house once had a sewing room on the other side of the house.  There was a table that was filled chest high with yards of fabric, patiently waiting to be made into something useful.  The wall above the peddle sewing machine had various pictures on it.  One portrait was very dear to me.  During the turn of the last century it was common to have a picture hanging in the home that depicted a person clinging to a cross while a storm surged around them.  Two of my great-grandmothers had a picture like this in their home.  I now have them hanging in my home.  It comforted me to see that someone else, unknown to me, had been comforted by the same picture.
As I walked through the rest of the home I found two old hymnals available for purchase.  I love hymnals as much as I love old Bibles, so I picked them up.  The two books cost me $1.50.  I wondered how many evenings were spent around the piano singing hymns from these books.  Radio was often a luxury and families would have to create their own entertainment long ago.

As I left this farm I was reminded of my grandparents' estate sale in 1986.  People came from all over to walk through their home, pick up their stuff, look in their rooms.  I was greatly bothered by these intruders who had no knowledge of our family's heritage and probably didn't care.  I watched my older cousins help the auctioneer sell off items that had been in the family for almost 100 years.  It pained me then, it pains me now.  

I was raised to respect my family's history and to honor those who had come before me.  When I entered this farm estate sale I gave it the same respect.  I hope that someday if I someone enters my home they will give it the same respect.


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