Kogos: Yard sales a window into our culture

Photo illustration Metro Creative / jpg, SP

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“Get up, Bon, Lise McElree’s huge yard sale has begun.”

She’s a retired teacher with 33 years in the Sudbury school system. Lise is creative, refashioning clothes to make them into something new and better.

“We’ve got to get there,” says my beloved hostess Judi Cartman in Sudbury. It’s 8 a.m. on this beautiful summer Sudbury Saturday. I’m up in a shot. A shot of coffee.

Lise’s driveway burgeons with tons of items neatly displayed and inviting. People are already browsing and the air is festive with discovery. Clothes are hung neatly on three racks. She knows to hang them vertically,

Browser Angele and her husband, Paul, slowly move through treasures offered along the driveway. Louise pauses by the books. By the actual garage, Diane tells me that they’re on the way to five more five yard sales.

“We saw the yard sale sign and had to follow it.”

She gives Lise $15 and says slyly to her husband, “Oh dear, you shouldn’t have bought this for me.”

Lise counters, “$15 takes all.”

Tables are chockfull of books, jewelry, paintings, shows, dresses, silverware, glassware, candlesticks, board games, knickknacks, and cookware. Plus three racks of former designer dresses, blouses, shirts, pants, belts, hats, and designer shoes and boots lined up. Size 8. There must be something.

Yet the treasure is the people who keep wandering in.

“It takes guts to get rid of the stuff that has formerly defined you,” Lise told me.

“That pair of shoes, the jaunty scarf, and the cowboy hat from the rodeo in Azilda. Or that ball gown from New Year’s Eve. Bonnie, I have such gratitude that people are thankful for what I have and offer to them. That they’re glad for the deal.

“A little boy, nine years old, stood before me holding The Dude Diary, who bought it for $1 and a smile.”

“I need nothing, I need nothing,” I mutter to myself, while perusing the goods, all in excellent condition.

Uh oh, I’m smitten by that cowboy hat and three necklaces, which Lise told me she bought in New York City.

One fashionable lady tells me, “while I like the Sudbury yard sales, to go thrifting, I winter in Florida; Estate sales are much classier.”

Two young ladies, pushing their baby carriages, wander up the driveway. I must ask, “Starting them young?”

Lovely Ellen smiles at me, and I meet Ben, two years old in his carriage, who giggles.  “This is included in our walk to the Farmer’s Market,” she says, eyeing the tables.

“I’m putting together a William Wallis costumer, from the Brave Heart movie for my pal,” young Paul tells me, proudly wearing a grey scarf across his chest.

Listening to a lovely lady holding candlesticks: “We yard sale every weekend,” she proudly says. “We even yard sale for our neighbours who are elderly. I have their coat sizes and we buy all the time. I leave the clothes or things at their front door.”

One young guy shows up in sweats and shorts covered with many colours of paint. I can’t resist, “Is this your yard sale outfit?”

“It works. I get the cheapest prices.”

While I write this, on CTV, the terrific morning Marilyn show is on, featuring yard sales on her show. She tells about swapping clothes. A swap booth?

How important yard sales have become in our shopping culture. It’s about how and what we acquire to make ourselves happy. How are we able to say goodbye to our own accumulations, our precious pieces that hold so much memory? To tidy up? I sing that song, “Let it go, let it go.”

Lise laughs at the end of the day, when we meet her for dinner. She’s tired, above all elated that so much has moved out of her yard. The rest she will donate. Our elegant Lise admits, “Going to yard sales is much more fun than having them.”

Then Lise says, “I’m learning about recycling the world. I want to honour what has been made in the past and … (and to) be sending it on.”

 

Our Bonnie is delighted to be here on a Saturday. Please find her at BonnieKogos@gmail.com

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