Maggie recently had one of those ideas that sometimes makes a little sense but always means a lot of work. She thought we ought to have a yard sale.
When she gives voice to such a notion, I can rarely put her off for long. We don’t have yard sales every year, but it often seems that way. Worse, others in the neighborhood wanted to have yard sales. That all led to a dozen or more yard sales last weekend in the state streets.
Our latest basement foray turned up several boxes each of books and records — all a real treat to lug upstairs. The 120 or so albums we took into the driveway had belonged to my parents. The collection comprised classical music by various symphonies, soundtracks from musicals and albums by Tony Bennett (he really was young once), Frank Sinatra, Cole Porter and the like. It’s what my four brothers and I called “mom and dad music.”
We also had plenty of holiday and seasonal fare, which Maggie sorted superbly, and the usual array of household goods. Unfortunately, we were light on tools and clothes and some of the other standard yard-sale merchandise.
But we had toys — lots of them — in part because Maggie somehow motivated me to open the shed, where our boys’ childhood was stored in plastic tubs. Of course these tubs were stacked high and in neat rows and labeled. Maggie is an organizer. Me, not so much.
Before Maggie and I got serious about selling the toys, we called both our sons, asked if they minded and told them they could put anything they wanted off limits. All they ruled out was Guitar Hero, XBox and their old video games.
Maggie and I also kept almost everything having to do with “Star Wars,” the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Captain Planet” — that’s a lot — and cartons filled with Lego pieces along with some instructions. Our grandsons, now 4 and almost 2, will have first crack at those minor treasures.
So if we set all that aside, what was left? Well, plenty. We had hundreds — really! — of action figures large and small. That considerable army included a handful of pro wrestlers — Hulk Hogan and friends — plus two sets of most of the characters from most Disney animated movies and Marvel comic book heroes.
We also had a “Jurassic Park” play set along with most of the pertinent dinosaurs and characters and the castle homes of Skeletor and He Man from “Masters of the Universe.”
The collection not only drew young children and their parents but several individuals who turned out to be collectors who offered sums for entire boxes and sought to bundle items. They doubtless were content with the deals they got and we benefited in a couple of instances from bidding contests.
We had a profitable sale. And yes, it was worth the trouble. In fact, in my dread about the yard sale, I had forgotten how enjoyable such endeavors can be. Some neighbors dropped by and so did a lot of people we haven’t seen in a while. That roster included former co-workers, our boys’ former classmates and other adults we once coached with or knew from Boy Scouts.
There also were people and the conversations we didn’t see coming. After asking a young browser with an accent where he was from and learning he was a grad student from Brazil, we talked for 20 minutes about his impressions of America and about our trip to Brasilia to visit our younger son, who just finished his third year of teaching there.
And because we had sold only two albums until just before we packed up, a young woman who went through them one by one and picked out a dozen caught our eye. Turns out she is a grad student in music at K-State and said my parents’ albums were a gold mine. She was delighted and impressed at the albums’ excellent condition. I wish I could say that about mine.
The entire exercise was fun and profitable, and productive in the sense that we downsized a little more. I worry, though, that Maggie will decide it was so much fun we ought to do it again soon.
Braun retired in 2017 as the Mercury’s editorial page editor.