Our outings lately have been yard sale jaunts to break up the monotony of cloudy days and cold weather. At a recent yard sale Gary got some rock rails for his jeep for pennies on the dollar. At another yard sale I got a table top easel for my acrylic paintings for $3. I can't tell you how happy I was to get the easel. I've been propping up my canvas on a couple of cutoff 2x4's. We relish going to yard sales and finding a bargain we can put to good use. The bonus is we can easily afford the cost compared to new prices. Every one of these items is a real treasure to us.
Today we remembered a sale in California when Gary went to look at some old cars and trucks advertised for "500 dollars each obo". The vehicles were from the 50s and 60s and it was the early 1990s so the vehicles were definitely desirable to us since we love old cars. We pride ourselves in negotiating for a really good price and getting a good deal so we looked forward to getting a car for a bargain.
Gary arrived at the location of old vehicles and a man and his two sons who had arrived before him were looking at a late 1950s pickup truck. The man looked over the pickup truck and decided he liked it. He offered the man selling the truck less than the asking price of $500. All of a sudden the man selling the vehicles started yelling, incredulous at the offer, and said he'd just as soon wreck the truck as sell it to the man and his two sons. He picked up a brick and threw it through the front glass of the truck and said the truck wasn't for sale any more.
The man and his sons were taken back to say the least and quickly left the location totally mortified. Gary was the next person in line to look at the vehicles and he stepped into the yard. He had his eye on a 1964 Chevy Impala, dusty and dirty but with a straight body with chrome and glass complete. The car engine actually turned over. It was definitely a car we'd like to fix up and drive for a while. When it came time to offer the man the money for the car, Gary didn't hesitate but offered the man the full price of $500. Something we rarely, if ever, did.
When Gary got home and said he bought the 64 Chevy, I quickly asked how much did you get it for. I was really surprised when he said $500. Until he told me the story of the man and his two sons and how they'd left in such a big hurry at the audacity of the man throwing a brick through a perfectly good truck windshield. I drove that 64 Chevy Impala to work for years. It was a 6 cylinder, three on the tree with overdrive, and baby blue in color. After a good cleaning and waxing, it actually shined and the interior and paint were near perfect.
Another time we were having a yard sale of our own when we were leaving California for good. We had an antique wrought iron table and four chairs for sale. Gary had sanded and painted the metal and I had recovered the seats of the chairs. We were selling the table and chairs for $125. A person we knew came by and offered us $75 for it. We knew this person had three houses (two rented) and hundreds of acres and several businesses. We were selling our home because Gary's hours and salary had been cut and we just couldn't make it in California any longer. Gary said, no we won't take that for the table set. Later we sold the set for what we asked. A day or two later the same person we knew called to offer us the full price and we told him we had sold it.
Sometimes I have to twist Gary's arm to get him out of the house but once we get going it all seems to work out.Today we read there was a old camper and a truck for sale. They were both listed for a song and I kept telling Gary let's go, let's go. I said we can fix up the camper and call it a glamper which is fashionable for old campers. I was already dreaming of cleaning it up, making curtains and recovering the cushions to make it cute and camp worthy. Gary kept saying don't get your hopes up too much because he had an inkling about the seller after talking to him for a while on the phone. The man had pretty much told Gary his whole life story on the phone and had ended the conservation by thanking Gary for taking the time to come out and see his items for sale. Gary said the man seemed very lonely.
We drove about 15 miles out in the country and located the address and drove down a long overgrown dirt driveway. We rounded a bend in the driveway and came upon what most would describe as a scene out of a movie like Deliverance. The man told us to honk when we got there so he'd know we were outside, so Gary honked. Out of a lean to shack came a slight man with a knit cap, white hair and ample white sideburns and a hesitant gait. When we exited our car and struck up a conservation with the man, he rocked side to side out of habit or perhaps nervousness at unexpected contact with the outside world. I began to realize what Gary had alluded to about not getting my hopes up.
Many folks would have left before they even got out of their car but we'd said we were coming and we owed the man the respect of looking at what he had for sale. We made our introductions and small talk and we learned the man lived with his mother in her 80s and his father had died eleven years before. The pickup was his father's car and hadn't moved since then. The pickup truck was locked up tight but was rusted and the engine was probably seized up due to cold winters. The 12 foot camper had been used at craft fairs years previous and had sat so long a tree had sprung up between the tongue supports and was about 3 inches in diameter.
We spent some time learning about the man's family history and his woodworking crafts and his mother's crochet and quilt crafts,. We learned about the building of their cabin, thirty some odd years ago, about their moving from Florida and so much more. We talked about the popular trees they'd used for their cabin posts and leftover wood used for crafts. I noticed a huge popular tree straight and true and harvest worthy nearby. The man told us about the popular trees folks harvested and cherished for ship building in Maine. The man had a lot of knowledge of what America was like many years ago. He knew about the botanical markers of the popular tree and could recognize the tree by its bark. I remarked about the tulip flowers of the tree and we agreed they were difficult to see hidden among the leaves. I could see he and I had a lot in common in a love of nature.
Then I noticed the man had lost most of his fingers on the left hand. He told me the accident was due to a saw making the crafts he used to build. He wasn't bitter or angry or regretful just accepting of his plight in life. He said he'd once been married, common law, but married but it didn't work out. He told us of his brother who was a truck driver and a few notations about his brother's life. As we drifted to our car to leave I felt drawn to this man, so sweet, so simple, so kind. As we left he invited us back and said if we ever needed anything to come on by, I knew he meant it genuinely.
As we drove away Gary said when you feel bad think of this man. Gary didn't need to say that to me, I already did feel for this man. Why am I crying tonight at the circumstance of this man I met today? I feel so unworthy? I have so much to be thankful for, so many earthly possessions, so many opportunities, and so much good fortune, With a turn of fate I could be this man. I am this man. Aren't we all this man.