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    Garage Sale Adventures

    Mike Ruby
    A Muscatine resident for over forty years, Mike Ruby had careers both as a teacher at Muscatine High school and as a writer for nonprofit companies. Now retired, Ruby continues to cultivate his love for writing by contributing monthly Ruby's Reflections to Discover Muscatine newspaper.

    Muscatine Living

    I don’t remember there being any garage sales in our neighborhood in the 1950s and 60s, but no doubt there were some. My dad loved to search out bargains, so he hit the garage sale circuit with enthusiasm when he retired. He brought home “treasures” that typically sat idle in the garage or basement for years. After his death, we did some major purging of household items in preparation for Mother’s move to a retirement complex. I remember placing a large pile of Dad’s garage sale treasures on the curb with a large sign saying everything was free. Much of the stuff was sitting in the same spot 3 days later, so it was hauled to the dump.

    During the 1970s, Jo Anne and I lived in a cul-de-sac neighborhood in Kansas. Once a year, several families coordinated a sale to be held on a selected Saturday. The participating families could peruse their neighbor’s trash and treasures on Friday evening and buy or barter for items of their choosing. It was hilarious to see the quantity of items that remained in the neighborhood, just in a different garage or basement.

    In the 1980, our friends planned a yard sale that included a lot of baby clothes and furniture. Their family was complete with two girls, ages 8 and 6. The sale ad was published in Friday’s newspaper for an 8:00 a.m. start time on Saturday. A visit to the doctor on Friday morning for a routine check-up resulted in shocking news; another child would be joining the family in about 6 months. Most of the baby items that had been priced and ready for the sale were hastily retrieved. Our friends were not yet ready to tell the public of their unpredicted news, so it was somewhat awkward explaining to potential buyers why the advertised baby items were not available. That bouncing baby boy (now 40) is a successful pharmacist and the father of three.

    Garage sales are a lot of work. We’ve had a few, but now find it easier to donate the items and take a tax write-off. I don’t visit yard sales very often these days, however, in a weak moment when I head out the door to search for treasures, Jo Anne invariably reminds me to leave my wallet at home. I’ve been known to ignore her advice on occasion.

    What treasures have you found at a garage sale?

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