There was a line even at 8:30 Friday morning, waiting for the moving sale on Grayson. The house was a brick ranch, and its driveway was a heart killer. The front lawn rose from the road at a 60 degree angle, and mowing it on a riding mower must have given someone some nervous moments. I recuperated from the walk up in back of the house, where I could wheeze in peace, out of the public eye.
What pain the owner must have felt at leaving, for her back yard was a three tiered terraced garden. Red Knockout roses still bloomed, and though cold had killed the cannas to the ground, a few Shasta daisies were still in flower.
I was in line ahead of a dealer, a man who could , and did, talk for thirty minutes straight. To me. All I needed to do was smile and nod. The dealer and his wife planned to be out all day, and he went over their itinerary. He urged me to drive down to Murfreesboro, where one of his friends was having a sale. He told me most of the people behind us and in front of us in line were dealers. Neither he, nor his wife, seemed fond of these other members of their fraternity, and no one greeted anyone else.
"Watch out for them", the wife warned me, pointing to the young couple who were first at the door. "She'll come up and snatch things right out of your hand".
I learned that the older dealers had shops or booths, but the new generation sold on line, on Ebay. "I wouldn't fool with that", the man said, "Who wants to fool with sales tax and shipping?" Perhaps people who did not have to pay rent for a shop or share their profits with the consignment store, I thought, though I did not get an opening to say so.
Talk ceased. The front door opened. In we went. We swarmed the kitchen, and in the first five minutes piles marked "sold" rose around the checkout table. I was looking for the pale green enamel cookware set, but I did not see it until a man carried it out the door. The mixing bowls-dozens- went fast as well. I found two sets of Hall Pottery bowls with their lovely, but impractical gold rims-
Later at checkout, the ladies behind me gave me unsolicited advice. "Those gold rims- You know they can't go in the microwave. You can't put them in the dishwasher-". I told them I did not cook in a microwave, and I did not mind hand washing.
There was more Hall china. A souffle dish and a covered bowl that looked as though it would be used for compotes.
Glassware covered table after table. Glasses, mugs, pitchers. Wedgewood plates. A hall closet hid dozens of ring binder church and Junior League cookbooks.
At one hour in, I kept circling the kitchen, looking for the overlooked. What dealers were left, were in line. Mr Talkative was disassembling the dining room table. His wife had bought a nest of large plastic storage boxes, and they were full of what she thought would sell. The house was emptying out, though people ignored the 20 quart stockpot, the canner, the cappuccino maker- all still in their boxes, forgotten on the garage shelves. What survived Friday would go for half price on Saturday, when there would be no more dealers around.
My arms ache today from holding boxes as I waited to pay. Kind ladies in line held some of my dishes for me, and I trusted them. No one ran off with anything. I never thought they would. There may be no honor between dealers, but there is among the ladies of Nashville who have driven out of a morning, perhaps to look for something for their granddaughter's first kitchen-
And the woman whose house this once was, the woman who collected Hall Pottery and who gardened on a hillside- Who was she? Were there clues?
If we look close enough we might find them. Perhaps inside a cookbook from the Franklin, Tennessee Ladies Auxiliary. It looks like a retirement gift , and a card and a note left inside thank her for her years of teaching- "In remembrance of the fun and good times we "cooked up" at Fairview High School", it reads. And continues-"You were a true example of class and style-always to be counted on to do the right thing-".