By Jack Cawthon|
The ads are already appearing in the newspapers and soon the season
will be in full swing. I'm not talking baseball; I'm speaking of that
addiction that is worse than nicotine and the other mind controllers.
I'm talking big-time yard sales and flea markets.
You've seen those bumper stickers with "I brake for yard sales" on
them? Well, mine should read "I go broke for yard sales."
It may have something to do with growing up in the lean years. There
is so much affluence today that people throw away perfectly good stuff
or let it go really, really cheap. Maybe I should have been a garbage
collector instead of going into journalism, but some of you smart
alecks out there may say that I didn't stray too far away from my
But, anyway, how many Mr. Coffee makers can one use even at three
dollars a whack? Or, my great weakness: manual typewriters. I always
think that if I find the right typewriter it will contain a muse and a
genie who may make magic on the cheap.
Then, there is the personal stuff that people sell, like photographs
and picture albums. I have family pictures of my own that I can't
identify and it isn't like my parents found me floating down the crick
on a log like they always told me, although there are a lot of
unexplained shots taken along Grass Run. I just can't comprehend how
people can sell Aunt Louise or Uncle Fred and not feel something,
especially for 50 cents or so.
It was on a lonely country road that I saw him sitting on the table.
The inscription read "To Thelma with love, from George." The price
was 50 cents. I thought I had found an early George Jones, back when
maybe he was only doing a maintenance diet of a fifth or so a day,
because the look in his eyes seemed to spell spiritual trouble.
But the more I looked at him I realized that the bottled up look in
his eyes couldn't be uncorked unless I found Thelma. (I figured he
wasn't really George Jones, as I didn't think ol' George would be
wearing a tee shirt with "How 'bout them eers!" on it.)
Every man has had a Thelma or two in his life-well, six or nine,
maybe. Come on, I'm a struggling writer, not a statistician. Who
I knew only one thing could cure George, and that was for me to find
Thelma. I believe in extrasensory happenings, especially every time
the state legislature meets, and, lo, it wasn't a month or so until I
spotted her on a table at a flea market. She didn't come cheap, and I
wouldn't have wanted her to, somewhere around a dollar as she had a
nicer frame than George. She wasn't autographed, but right off I knew
a Thelma when I saw her.
Now, I have this hundred-year-old house up in Preston County that some
people, lacking sensitivity, have called a tumbledown shack. But I
have read enough real estate blurbs to know it is correctly described
as a rustic, handyman's special in the country, with lots of potential
This is where I cart many of my yard sale treasures, and to heck with
people who call me eccentric-or worse. And this is where I set up
housekeeping for George and Thelma. Many of you Methodists out there,
and I grew up as one, will scream about living in sin, but I have
enough trouble with the sex lives of those dirty little field mice
until it has hardened me into accepting that what is going to happen
will happen anyway, which I suppose makes me some sort of
You might say that it was like waving a red heifer at a bull, but
George for the first time I have known him looks happy. I can place
the pictures back to back-and you may find this hard to believe-but
when I come back there are facing each other.
It sure does make a fellow happy to see things work out for two people
in love and know that he had a hand in it. And it only cost a buck