Saturday, August 31, 2013

Close to home

Hello all.  It's Nick from Mid-Century Midwest again.


On occasion, you may have heard me remark that I've sworn off the local thrifts and estate sales after a series of burns, quickly rising prices, a perceptible drop in availability of MCM, and the increasing intensity of the competition.  However, when I saw an estate sale in-progress literally a few paces from my front doorstep, I couldn't resist.  Nickarmadillo was back on the hunt!

This was a private sale, run by an older couple and their family who didn't adhere to the typical estate sale regimen.  There were no lines or rules and things weren't particularly organized, which you'd think would lead to chaos.  However, while I didn't leave with anything crazy good, I actually enjoyed the sale, something that hasn't occurred in a long time.

My girlfriend and I were greeted at the door by the older couple, who came and told us the story of each item we were interested in and checked in on us occasionally to see if we had any questions. Everyone was all smiles and we were allowed to browse the very reasonably priced items at our leisure.  Their family even packaged everything up when we left and helped to carry it back home. 

When the sale came to a close, the family told those present that everything was now free-of-charge and the remainder would go to charity.  Despite our insistence, they wouldn't take our money.  So, we quickly baked them a chocolate chip banana bread in return.  Later, the grandfatherly gentleman knocked on my door and brought several tools that were left out of the toolbox I'd picked up earlier just in case I needed them.

This is how estate sales were meant to be: informal, cheap, and most of all fun.  While I'm still not particularly keen on going to the professionally-run sales (where you generally have to wake up stupid early lest the dealers clean the whole place out, get treated like a pack animal, wait for hours only to find severely overpriced items, and endure glares, shoves, shouts, and underhanded tactics from staff and fellow shoppers alike), I may revise my stance against ALL estate sales.  There are good ones out there, but they may not be the events advertised all over the internet.

So, what was my haul?  Mostly cook books, but I've really taken a liking to them lately.  I enjoy the illustrations and find it interesting how the ingredients in and presentation of food has changed over the years.  Take, for example, the full set of Betty Crocker recipe cards pictured above.



I found this recipe for Rag Doll Salad particularly amusing.  What child's tea party is complete without a doll-shaped salad consisting of fruit, lettuce, marshmallow, and cheese.  Mmmmmm.


We also purchased a load of hand-written recipes, which were really cool, though we did worry about taking such a personal item.  These were likely some of their favorites and we didn't want the family to lose any treasured recipes, but they assured us that the grandfather had safely stored them on a computer.  It's kinda funny how grandparents are now going digital while us younguns are out there trying to pick up their old stuff.

If you'd like to read more about Mid-Century Modern and my adventures in thriftiness, visit my blog at

1 comment:

  1. That salad is hilarious. My grandkids are usually pretty good vegetable eaters, but given one look at that thing, they'd dive right for the marshmallow and totally forget anything with a speck of nutritional value.

    Sounds like a great estate sale. I've just about quit going for the same reasons you mentioned. On one of those stupid early sit-in-the-car nights, Joe actually had a neighbor call the police, so he's about fed up too. Your experience restored my faith in buyers and sellers.