I think that a little background information might be appropriate here so bear with me if you’ve heard some of this before.
My Pa died in November of 2008, but before he died he managed to get to as many auctions as he could within driving distance (8 hours probably wouldn’t have been too far to drive for an auction for him) where he proceeded to buy items. Usually the items that Pa would buy would be mowers, snoblowers, engines for such – but sometimes the items he bought were a little more exotic. I know that he had a set of street lights, the kind that you would see on a city street, well maybe a small town street. After my Pa would buy these items he would take them to his “Shop” which he bought 9 years ago, the “Shop” used to be owned by a lumber company (it was huge: at least 3 floors and a basement area, there are little cubby hole type places all over that can only be reached by small sets of stairs – HUGE).
Anyone in the family that would ask about what he might want to do with these items would be given any one of a standard litany of responses: “Don’t you worry about it.” or “I’ve got plans for that” or “That’s none of your business” among other things. But every once in a while he would chuckle at the prospect of us all having to clean it up after he was gone.
So, since it warmed up in WI in late March my sister Rhonda took charge of the task and we started to prepare for the auctions. We originally planned to have three auctions (and in hindsight I really wish we would have had three) but dropped it down to two after the first auction was so successful. Rhonda, being the only one of us that lives close to Ma and the shop, spent almost every day down at the shop with her husband, or Ma going through the place and determining what was what. I understand that we threw away over 7 long dumpsters full of items (Pa did have notes on SOME items that said: “for Parts” or “unrepairable”). I managed to get home in March, May, June and July to help and I know my brother Kenny who lives closer was home a few more times that I was bur primarily Rhonda did the bulk of the work.
I knew what I was in for this trip to WI, the last trip about wore me out so I knew I’d be busy. We would wake up each morning about 6 head for breakfast at the Garden of Eatin’ before heading to the shop. It’s dirty, hard, endless work down there and after even an hour or two you wonder if it’ll ever be over (my sister did this every day for a quite a while and I’m very proud of her). At 12 the sirens for town go off and we’d head for Ma’s for a quick lunch before heading back down to the shop for the remainder of the day. Around 6 Ma would have dinner ready at home and we’d all chow down and moan alot (sore muscles).
We did get some help while we were down there working. Greg’s dad was down each day helping out, Ma’s nephew Byron was down a few days and really worked up a sweat, there was an annoying kid named Michael who just wouldn’t shut up but he helped so I didn’t pummel him.
The last two days leading up to the auction we began to see the light at the end of the tunnel, items were strategically placed outside and throughout the building in such a way that hundreds of people could safely walk through and get a look at them. We worked from early in the morning to late in the evening, nerves frayed, tempers tested and nephews absent.
The day of the auction had finally arrived. We spent about three hours before the auction taking a few remaining items out of the building and into the lot, we also moved a million items that belonged to one or the other of the nephews into the back of pickup trucks and cars. The stage was set and soon all the players started to arrive the auctioneer’s were there and soon the lot filled with old men in various stages of disarray (there apparently are no dress code suggestions for an auction, it’s come as you are).
This might have seemed to be the longest day the auction started at 9:30 a.m. and continued on until around 6:00 p.m. And for the most part we all just kind of stood around and waited. Every once in a while one of the auctioneer’s would need something and we would take care of that but mostly, we just stood around and waited.
My nephews, brother, and brother-in-law all bid on things and won them. I didn’t see anything that I wanted to bid on that I could fit in my luggage so I just let those items go… yes, sarcasm.
Almost every item was bid on, not as much as we had hoped, but some. The building was sold around 1:30 to the highest bidder at less than half of what Pa had paid for it 9 years ago – the new owner has pipe dreams that were reminiscent of Pa’s pipe dreams and I wish him luck. The winners of the bids had 2 full days to retrieve their items or they would become property of the new owners – I hope they managed to do so.
That night we ordered pizza and sat around the kitchen table talking about the events of the day, month and year. We joked and kidded and old resentments flared up and new jokes and stories were born.
It’s nice to go home and see my family, it’s nice to spend time with them… but I’d rather never ever prepare for auctions like this again. But if my Ma or Rhonda asks for help, I’ll do what I can to be there for them, they’ve always been there for me.