|Part of the farm that I went to the auction last week.|
My father died at the age of 47 when I was 24. If it were not for that, I would have been in the habit of going to auctions with him until he couldn’t go anymore.
We started when I was young. Dad always told me to get an amount in your head before you started bidding, and quit. (He said the same thing about poker games, give yourself an allowance and then quit). I remembered this as I bid on a quilt last week that was VERY similar to one I had at home that my husband’s grandmother had made—or maybe it was great-grandmother. This was the same pattern, trimmed differently, but in the same colors. I thought I could do something with both of them together.
Having watched the bidding in general, things were going fairly low. That is to say some things did, and then some of the craziest things went very high. That is part of the entertainment of the auction. So, in my head, I was not in Amish country bidding on a great creation (although it was nice). I set my price and lost it.
But I digress.
My mother never knew what my father was going to bring home. He had a garage workbench and a basement workbench to store some of this stuff, so the only ones who really suffered were the folks who had to clean up the workshops for the auction Mom had after he died. Sometimes he brought Mom something, that to her was the same as the cat bringing a dead bird to her. She usually took it in stride.
But not always.
There were box lots. Box lots, to the uninitiated, are when the auctioneer throws one good thing into the box, and then throws in a bunch of junk to get rid of it. While we know that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure—and the same thing goes for women—usually the box is full of junk.
Tools are handled differently and Dad did have an affinity for tools……but he still bought those box lots. Mom would remove the items out of them while we all sat around in the kitchen and we would laugh uproariously at the ridiculousness of it. “Oh, just what every family NEEDS! Milking machinery cleanser!” I would nearly wet my pants.
This could go on for any length of time, and we were easily entertained in those days. Silly as it seems, it was family (and whatever friend might be witnessing this) bonding time.
There were times it wasn’t so funny. Dad bought a dining room suite without consulting Mom. That, friends, we don’t do! However, in the big scheme of things, she only had to endure it for about three years, because when the house we sold on land contract was refinanced, we came into the proceeds and Mom got all new furniture and carpet for the downstairs and the kitchen table she dreamed of. The point is, do not buy furniture at an auction unless husband and wife are there together.
It was difficult to watch my grandparents’ things auctioned off in 1972, and I didn’t attend the auction my mother had in 1978. When I settled my uncle’s estate in 1992, the auction wasn’t difficult for me at all. When the estate auction for my in-laws was held in 2002, I did not attend. That was a bonding time between my husband and son. They came home with stories and I smiled. “That (piece of crap) sold for $XXX!” Yeah, I know.
I went frequently with my Dad, but he had other “auction buddies.” We teased them just as much. When I was ready to start up housekeeping on my own, I never knew what he would find. He bought an antique ironing board for 25 cents that I wish I still had today.
One of Dad’s friends went to “auctioneering school” with him. Then the friend set up a business, still in effect today with his son running it, and Dad helped him at the auctions.
One thing is for sure. When you’re working, you can’t buy!
Auctions are social events too, for many of the people attending. Certain auctioneers have a following. (groupies?) Lots of people buy and resell it in other ways, flea markets, Ebay or whatever.
But you definitely can see that it’s social. The good auctioneer knows his people so well that he knows when a brother and sister (husband and wife?) are bidding against each other and don’t know it. A great auctioneer stops a person from bidding against himself. He stops the show and gets everyone straightened out before proceeding. I’ve seen “volleys” but never out-and-out bidding wars. These are local country folk who all know each other and have to face each other at the NEXT event!
The auctioneer at the event I went to last week was the grandson of the man who did my grandparents’ estate auction. Life marches on.
P.S. My in-laws farm (land) auction is a great story, but I don’t have permission to write about that.