Monday, August 3, 2009

Summer Benchmarks

Every year, since I've been back in my home town, I've cobserved benchmarks of summer. Fourth of July Parade, the County Fair, a trip to the Beach Boardwalk are all usual benchmarks for our family. But this year has been a little different. We didn't do any of those things. Blame scheduling, a bad economy, or a bad mood. All of it seems to apply.

But there is one last benchmark that I won't give up, the Elks Club Rummage Sale. Every year on the first Friday in August, a hundred or more people gather behind yellow caution tape that marks off the sale area in the Elks Club parking lot. By now, I'm an old pro. I bring my own coffee, my old lady shopping cart and no less than $50 in small bills.

This is the rummage sale to end all sales. It's so big, it actually has departments: appliances, tools, sporting goods, books, toys, clothing, kitchenware, shoes, furniture, plants, luggage and knick-knacks. When the caution tape comes down there's a genuine rush in, people actually run to look for that one thing they hope to find.

Most years I look for two things: books and supplies for Burning Man. And even though I'm not going to the playa this year, I will likely head to sporting goods first to check out the bikes. I love bikes. Especially vintage Schwinn bikes, and I've found more than one there before!

After the bikes, I'll peruse the other departments until I come to the books. Usually I look for classics, books like Tom Sawyer or To Kill a Mocking Bird. These are books I generally like to have on hand to give people, especially To Kill a Mocking Bird. I also like to have extra copies of books I want my kids to read, like Animal Farm, and Of Mice and Men. This year, I will probably look for Harry Potter and the Narnia Series. Should be no-brainer.

When my money runs out I happily head towards my car, usually with cart full of gems, maybe a manual typewriter to add to my collection, a really cool vintage jacket, the odd appliance. And it's always hard to do this, because I always want to go back and find more treasures. To feel that sense of glee when I see something really cool that just days ago was another person's trash.

In this summer of downturn, it's nice to look forward to a benchmark that I know I can afford. And although I may not spend as much as I normally do, the treasure hunt will be just as fun.

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