Saturday, October 23, 2010


I fancy garage sales and flea markets and antique stores. I love picking up dishes that women have lovingly served meals to their families on and pretty baubles that have been cherished by women before me. But an auction is a painful thing for me to attend. So often an auction occurs because a family has lost their home, or lost a job and is moving away, or there has been a death and the family home is being dismantled. I feel the pain of those folks with every bid. I hate seeing people paw over a family’s goods.

When we first moved to town here, we attended an auction at the edge of town. Nothing there I wanted but a box of white dishes. Oh, I wanted those dishes and begged hubby to bid more. I twisted and groaned, and fretted as only one other woman was bidding. The bidding wasn’t high unless you were newly married with no money. Finally we got that box of white dishes that became our family meal dishes for the next twenty years. The woman bidding came over to me that day and said she wanted the dishes, but when she noticed how badly I wanted them, she gave up bidding. I still run into this woman occasionally.

My next auction in town, I wanted a chair. I tried bidding on my own while DH was at work. When the chair went for $20, I stopped. Only when the chair was sold did I realize I had been bidding on EIGHT chairs and my bid would have been multiplied eight times! My knees shook with relief at the catastrophe I had nearly caused myself, and I have never felt good at an auction since then.

A year after my dad’s death, my mother and sister put together an auction his possessions. Watching Dad’s things, his tools, guns, and items that meant something to him go waltzing off in the hands of others was wrenching for me. Dad’s tools were kept shiny and orderly, spotless specimens although he used them hard. It was a dying all over again to know they would be gone. It was Father’s Day weekend, a bad day for a sale, and the heat was unbearable. So prices were low; I felt like we were giving Dad’s things away, such sadness. DH and I bought things just to keep from feeling like they had been tossed.

Today our neighbor is having an auction. She has gone to another state to live in assisted living near her daughter. There are a few things we want to bid on. So I did not sleep, tossing and turning, hating to see this sale of Jacqueline’s things and life, wanting not to screw up a bid either. Rain and hail are forecast, and while I hate the idea of her things being sold, I want them to sell fast and high for her sake.

I know that life is a coming and going, ebb and flow. I realize that life is full of changes, necessary ones. Call me weird, but seeing a person’s possessions sold to the highest bidder without his loving the items, knowing the history, or appreciating the family stories involved is just sorrowful to me.

Do you attend and enjoy auctions?


Linda O'Connell said...

I left a comment here yesterday, but don't see it now. I feel less guilty shopping yard sales and thrift shops than I do auctions and estate sales. I wrote a poem about it actually after hearing this old woman's grandchildren reminsicing about her personal belongings going out the door. It broke my heart and brings my mortality close to home.

Rebecca said...

We used to "do" auctions...seems to take so much time now...And the items we usually want are left to the end of the auction - the junk behind the house,etc. I don't do a lot of running around to garage sales, either - mostly thrift stores now.

I chuckled about your $20 bid on chairS!

irishoma said...

Like Rebecca, I used to "do" auctions, but haven't in some time. I found some real treasures and have always treated them with respect.