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Yard sale soul

At 6 a.m. on Saturday nothing much was happening on “B” Street: An occasional car, the intrepid cyclist, the hissing of a sprinkler system shutting off.

Yet, on the corner of 8th and “B,” boxes of miscellaneous items were being hand carried and carted from behind a private side yard and into the stained cedar picket fenced front yard, to be carefully sorted and displayed from fixtures, tables and the fence itself. It was a race against time, for at 8 a.m. the 30th annual yard sale would open to a crowd thirsting for bargains and dreams.

Annette Pugh gives focus to the event as her yard becomes an open air bazaar for one day a year.

People began circling like birds of prey at 7:15 a.m. Though we always state that the sale doesn’t begin until 8 a.m. there are always those who just want to “window shop” before we open. Years ago we learned that to view from the sidewalk was OK, but to allow people to begin to pick things up and clutch them pretty much defeated the purpose of an opening hour. So, as those involved in the yard sale merchandised the front yard, I manned the gate and, with a smile, enforced our rule.

7:59 the natives were clearly restless, having espied the objects of their desire. With a crush and a roar, the gate swung open and a host of thrifty shoppers spilled into the sale proper.

When someone really wants something, they let you know in a variety of ways. Some shield their prospective purchase with their bodies until getting a green light from their companion. Others try to carry whatever it is, no matter how bulky, around with them. A few try to take certain items out of play by placing them on the front counter and saying that they have to go get their purse or wallet, then continue to shop.

We in the United States line up and don’t question the price marked on an item. We shut up and proffer the cash. Some exceptions, however, come to mind: Real Estate, cars, classified items, auctions and anything in a yard sale. During a yard sale it is expected, even encouraged, that one offers less than the sticker price or the crowd breaks out in a collective belly laugh. Many add indifference, spiced with mild complaint, to their offer in this theater of the yard. Most sellers quickly catch on and lower the price enough to make the buyer feel victorious and shrewd. Everybody wins.

Debbie Cordova, a long-time local, loves the location for the yearly sale: “I did so well that sometimes I wish we could do this here every Saturday.”

Neighbor Alene Kaplan added: “Annette, you’ve outdone yourself this year. This is the most merchandise and shoppers that we’ve ever had.”

It was clear that most people had a good time rummaging through the goods, then haggling a little at the end. Enterprising kids set up a lemonade stand by the fire hydrant and were kept busy extinguishing the internal fires of the most serious shoppers, all braving the considerable heat of the day.

Waves, honks and hugs were aplenty, as well as the feeling that such gatherings represent the true heart and soul of the community.