Sunday, May 17, 2009


I loved going to farm auctions when I was young. It was a good chance to mill around adults and have free rein to look through boxes and explore tables lined with stuff. I didn't have much interest in looking at tractors or kicking the tires on a Buick, but I did love opening the lid of a cigar box to see what treasures were waiting. And wondering how people could part with exotic things as salt and pepper shakers that looked like dogs or butter churns or old shop calendars. I could usually talk Dad in to bidding a quarter or fifty cents on a box of match books or stack of old magazines for me. Eating from the concessions trailer was also big news - and about as close as we ever got to fast food.

When I was older I realized that that farm auctions happen around life events: someone died, retired or moved to town. It took some of the fun out of it, but I've come to appreciate how the auction ties things together, almost like the funeral all over again. 

As sad as I knew it would be, I was looking forward to the auction of Uncle Cletus and Aunt Mary Alice's (she is at an assisted living facility in town) household goods. All of their grandchildren were coming to town. 

Dad and I drove up together in the rain and discussed what we'd like to buy. Dad really wanted one of the stainless steel stock pots and I knew that I wanted a rake or shovel or something that family hands held. 

Here is dad picking out his pot. The auctioneer was great and funny. I'm not sure whether it was the rain or the economy, but things were selling really low. 

My trusty rain boots came in handy, once again. Cass County got some crazy amount of rain, too much rain for the newly planted crops. 

Cousin Judi and her daughters Rachel and Brandi. 

Buck and Cousin Cynthia

I wound up with the Nativity scene. It was an accidental bid, but I'm happy that I have it. 

These safety glasses were in a box of treasures that Buck bought. 

Cynthia and I both had our sights set on these chairs - the one I got used to be in my great-grandfather's tavern. It is painted the same grey that my table and two chairs are. I wonder how many gallons of that utilitarian grey paint the Spitznogle's went through over the years - or maybe I just have the four things painted that color. The chair did have one minor problem. The legs were cut off about six inches, making it really short. I'm sure it was used for some chore and it made sense at the time. I also bought the double wash tub behind us. It will be a great drink cooler for backyard parties. 

Dad told us that his dad paid twenty-five cents for this "sled." That was dad's opening bid. Cousin Leo bought it. 

Luci, Sydney, Leo and Nina. 

I can't imagine how hard the sale was on "the kids." It was fun to have some laughter near the end. Dad and Nina were bidding on the same item. It turned out that Dad wanted the horse shoes and Nina a coat that was in the same lot, so they shared. There was a lot of trading going on. I bought a chair and Virgin Mary artwork. I really wanted the art and Angie wanted the chair - it was fun to be able to give it to her. 

I think all of the grand-kids and nieces and nephews that were there bought a garden tool. I got a potato fork and hoe.

Dad got the pipe organ parts and other miscellaneous church stuff. That screen is from a confession box. I was starting to wonder how we were going to fit all of our treasures in the Suburbian. Dad also bought several lots of lumber. 

At one point Dad bid fifty cents for something. The auctioneer told him he'd pay him the difference if Dad would bid a dollar. Here he is making good on his promise. 

Loading the truck was a little tricky. We stacked all of the lumber on the folded down back seat and wedged everything else in the back. There was no room for the pot so I held it the hour and a half home. 

Which was ironic, when I discovered my beloved MacBook was squashed under the load of wood. I'd worked on my column on the way down and left the computer in my bag on the front seat. At some point in the day, Dad decided it would be safer under a blanket in the back. He forgot about it, until I asked where it was. 

To my credit, I didn't yell or freak-out or cry, although I sure wanted to. But it was a long ride home with that damn pot rattling on my lap. And all's well that ends well. I'm writing this post on the laptop. 

For more photos click here


Cliff said...

Great write up Nora. I enjoyed every line.
Glad the puter is ok.
Also glad you didn't have to sit on the pot all the way home.

Rachel said...

I always loved to go to auctions, but it is sad, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes you buy a box of stuff and no telling what you'll find in it when you get it home and start digging through it. Once I got a box of stuff and inside were all these old cancelled checks and mail. I once bought a beautiful handmade table for $16 at an auction.

I'm so glad your computer wasn't damaged under all the stuff you and your Dad bought!! I have to say that Cliff has a good point about the pot!!

BTW, congrats on being published!! You rock girl!!

Teresa said...

I am glad that you were able to get some treasures from your family.

Jamie Dawn said...

SO glad the laptop survived!
I think it is neat that family members got to take home some things to cherish. So much family history there.
I love those snazzy rain boots!!
I've never been to an auction like that. I would love to go to an estate auction.
I'm trying to figure out why that chair's legs were sawed off. That is going to bug me.


Granny Annie said...

My marriage to Ron introduced me to the wonder of auctions. Ron would always back off bidding if he kenw a family member was bidding against him. Many of my treasures come from $1.00 boxes that held a multitude of items only to dig through them and see the jackpot uncovered. I was sick reading about your laptop and so relieved to learn it survived.