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Deja vu begins with garage sale season

Kathy greets the new garage sale season with the same sort of enthusiasm shown by boat owners on fishing opener weekend or morel mushroom hunters making their first sweep through the woods with plenty of dead elms.

The spring garage sale season is at a fever pitch, given that Kathy has a list of must-have items for Elliot, our first grandchild.

Her best friend called to schedule a Saturday garage-saling expedition to the Twin Cities. It was a surprising move, given that the annual West Concord garage sale fell the same day. As garage sales go, the annual American Legion sale is the creme de la creme in these parts. Potential customers line up outside waiting for their chance to find the best bargains and are caught up in the thrill of the hunt.

Although her husband questions the motivation, he sends along good luck and godspeed wishes.

"I'm going just to see if I can spend all your money,'' she responds, when asked how much dough she intends to take with her.


Spending the $20 taken from the billfold wouldn't make much of a challenge even at garage sale prices. She didn't know when they would return, so there was no need to hold supper. I puttered throughout the afternoon while growing somewhat pensive when realization dawned that deja vu was happening all over again.

Same stuff, different day

Our house was once filled with plastic things — toy stoves, chalkboards, dolls, Tonka toys and stuffed animals that made weird noises when stepped on. Pots and pans that once resided on shelves were made homeless by a massive collection of children's books. Somehow, the children's favorites were anything involving Dr. Seuss and Curious George. It remains possible to recite almost every line from every one of those books.

Most of the plastic things were discarded and the books given away. The highchair, once good enough to feed three kids, is stored in the closet. Kathy assures me that it's junk and must be replaced. The playpen that did its job remarkably well is no more.

The collection is being rebuilt one garage sale at a time.

Bargain finds

It was later than expected when the opening door and the rustling of plastic bags woke me from a rather pleasant dream about winning a vacation to Hawaii. They needed help unloading the van. The plastic bags were stuffed with books. The van contained a new-age collapsible stroller roughly the size of a 1960s-era Volkswagen bug, a car seat, a superbly manufactured highchair and a toy that plays music and has blinking red, blue and yellow lights.

A blunt question about how much all of it cost was answered by a matter-of-fact listing of each item's price. Impressive bargains, each and every one, which resulted in warm praise.


Most of it would be stored in the girls' half-empty bedroom. Infant days have returned. The house must be made child-proof once more.

Four-month-old Elliot, who is above all else concerned about where his next bottle is coming from, said nothing about the stash during his next visit. Kathy read from a pop-up book, which she assured me he really enjoys. She says it's important to read to infants because it gets them started fast and leads to early success in preschool and kindergarten.

There didn't used to be any of that, which is perhaps why I was scared to death when first-grade commenced. Parents were alerted ahead of time that their child needed to know the alphabet and phone number and have the ability to spell their names. With a last name starting with "W" and therefore assigned to a desk in the back, I nervously watched while 20 other kids performed their lines. Most, except for the girl who cried when she couldn't recall her telephone number, performed flawlessly.

I froze in the spotlight's glare. It was the first of many failures that among other things led me to the remedial reading room assigned to those classified as slow learners. I caught up eventually and continue to learn new things every day. Saturday I learned our house would return to being a children's house. This time around the job is much easier. As grandparents, we won't have to mess with discipline and other hard stuff. All we have to do is to love them and make them feel special.

Oh, there is another thing — stepping on a plastic toy at 2 a.m. while preparing a bottle hurts just as bad now as it did then.

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