A couple of years ago, I began using my patented apron rating system to evaluate various sales and auctions. I was quite enthusiastic about it at the beginning, less so as the season wore on, and even less so as I considered how much work I was creating for myself in the years that would follow. Last year I used it on special occasions, as the spirit moved me. This happy apron-wearing woman, on the cover of a little gem of a booklet acquired in a box lot Saturday, inspired me.
And when this apron-clad woman appeared in quick succession, I knew I needed to pull the apron icons out of storage to rate Saturday's auction. Which was held at a farmhouse occupied until recently by a 98-year-old woman who never threw anything away.
Ping! (Don't you love the sound the first apron icon of the season makes?)
The auction was in Pennsylvania, my homeland.
But in a part of Pennsylvania where I'd never been. Which took me through some pretty little towns, across a few rivers and into the mountains. Unexplored territory, and beautiful scenery.
And I didn't get lost. Which, with my sense of direction, is a pretty big miracle.
Four aprons, and the bidding hasn't even begun!
I had called the auctioneer earlier in the week to inquire about the feedsacks, which were not shown in the photographs on his web site, and which were intriguingly yet somewhat incompletely described. He was nice as pie, called me right back and did his best to describe them. And then he said this: "They're in mint condition. All you'd need to do is worsh them."
And as soon as he said "worsh," I knew I was going. "Worsh" is Pennsylvanian for "wash." I grew up with "worsh" and its verb form, "worshing," and it tugs at my heart.
An apron for speaking my dialect.
I arrived, went straight to the feedsacks and found they were just as lovely as he had said.
OK, actually there's just one apron being awarded for that, but it was pretty exciting to see them.
Nobody was especially interested in bidding on the feedsacks, except for the people who bid on everything. There always are a few of them. I let them win one lot that I felt was kind of marginal. That seemed to satisfy them, so I got all of the rest.
Lack of formidable competition.
Not only was there lack of competition, there was a great deal of curiosity as to what the feedsacks were and why I was buying them. I had lots of pleasant conversations. One of them, with a couple maybe in their early 40s, went something like this:
Them: What does your husband think about you buying all of this?
Me (cheerfully): He's fine with it. (They express surprise.)
Them: So when you want to go out of town like this, you just go off and drive there yourself?
Me (again, cheerfully): Yep. (Again, they express surprise. Like women can do this kind of thing nowadays.)
For feeling like a feminist trailblazer.
One of my favorite things at a sale or an auction is Drama That Does Not Involve Me. There was LOTS of drama at this auction. The woman who died had a very large family, which had split into factions at some point. Probably half of the people at the auction were members of one faction or another. And rather than setting aside their differences so that everyone could get a memento or two, they bid against each other. Viciously. Like $90 doily viciously. Like $400 photo album viciously. Fortunately, none of them were interested in Auntie's feedsacks.
I'm only awarding this apron temporarily, because as interesting as it was to see all of this play out,
it really was unfortunate and sad. And an excellent object lesson in why it is much better to cooperate than to fight.
A local service club provided the food, and they had signs everywhere proclaiming "We have GOOD lemonade." There was something so charming about those signs. And the lemonade was pretty good. But what was particularly amazing was the number of homemade pies - fruit pies and berry pies and cream pies and nut pies. Pennsylvania is a great place to get pie.
In addition to all of the feedsack, there were so many other things that I liked. Ornaments and patterns and household whatnots and things I'd never buy except at the end the auctioneer was selling them for $1. I left feeling like I had just had about a perfect auction experience. I stopped to buy gas at the service station in town. As I approached the cashier, money in hand, I noticed she had kind of a troubled look. She was looking at the man behind me. Who, it seemed, had followed me into the gas station. And was a little rough around the edges.
"Excuse me, ma'am," he said, and both the clerk and I stiffened. This was going to be the part where my luck ended. With a convenience store holdup. I knew this day was too good to be true.
"I noticed the license plate frame on your car says you bought it in Syracuse," he said. "I grew up there!"
And then we had a nice conversation, and he wished me a pleasant visit.
For not being the victim of a convenience store holdup.
Ready for the tally?
A perfect ten. You felt that coming, didn't you?