Things pop up, from time to time, and very unexpectedly. My nieces are cleaning out my eldest brothers home. He doesn’t live there, no one could. It’s possible that he invented “hoarding”. He certainly had a head start because he was “dumpster diving” for decades. In fairness, he once built a two story cabin in the woods with found lumber, windows, fixtures, and pool tables.
He has a nice in-law cottage with his youngest daughter, and he rarely goes back to his home with treasures. I don’t think they would let him.
Thoughtful as the girls have always been, they found some stuff that they thought I would like, and packed it up, shipping to me first class. It was some photos, some documents, and several old newspapers. One paper in particular was from my home town, The Richmond Independent. This paper is what I grew up with. It was swallowed by one of those communication conglomerates, and nothing was left but memories.
My godfather, my namesake, was a printer at the paper, so I always felt a deep connection. Even for a bookish teenager, the writing was pretty good. There was one feature that stood out. A customer could have a free two line ad in the classified section, if the item you were selling was $50 or under. In the 1950s or even 1960s, that was pretty cool. All sorts of interesting things ended up being listed.
So naturally, when I got this newspaper in a box with others, I immediately looked for the “Bargain Counter”, section 601. I suppose it should be the bargain column, but…
The very first item gave me pause. It listed an engagement ring, appraised at $200, selling for $50 cash. Call after 5:30pm. Three or four things to think about. This was Dec.4, 1954. Didn’t everybody deal with cash? Maybe the seller feared some sort of a trade deal. Secondly, call after 5:30 implies a working person, probably a hard-working person that needed the cash. And lastly, what is the story behind this broken engagement? Typical breakup, ghastly accident, troubled second thoughts? It was only two lines, but I spent several minutes thinking about the possibilities.
I was actually looking for something very specific, very important. It wasn’t there, there were toys, bicycles, furniture, ovens, and fur coats, but not what I was looking for.
Another rite of passage for a sixteen year old was to get your drivers license, buy a car, park it in the driveway and smoke cigarettes with your friends. If the car actually ran, then you would “drag the main” at .25 cents a gallon, and buy a Giraffe at Gordon’s (think Orange Julius) at the end of the night.
It all hinged at being able to buy a vehicle with grass cutting salary, or saved allowance. That’s where the “Bargain Counter” came to fame. Dozens and dozen of my friends and relatives brought their first car from the classified 601 column. And now I have my very own copy, and there isn’t a car listed. Wait….
The next to the last item, a 1936 Buick, good tires, good condition, $40
Wow, not even the full $50. We would have ten dollars for gas, that would last the whole summer!
Yep, reminders pop up when you least expect them.