Thursday, March 17, 2005
There are good things about long drives to small town auctions in central Pennsylvania. For one thing, I got to fill up at my new favorite gas station/convenience store, the not-found-in-Southeastern-PA Sheetz (which immediately made me think of my old friend Lance, who I'm sure would have unfailingly connected the name "Sheetz" to Central Pennsylvania's general political persuasion. But I digress). It was so pleasant an experience that I didn't mind the high gasoline prices (which, relatively, aren't all that high once you're outside the metropolitan area and it doesn't have that MTBE crap in it). I felt thrilled to pay $1.95 a gallon, and in any case more than paid for the fill-up with the night's first auction purchase (six stupid Hallmark ornaments that will ebay for $40, won for $3.)
I am always charmed by the interior parts of the state with all its pretty little towns with lovely clock-tower steeples set among the hills. This particular trip had a little more significance than the usual one, as it was conducted over the winding course of Route 61 towards Schuylkill County, the anthracite coal region where my mother's family lived at the turn of the last century, straight through, for example, the tiny little town of Schuylkill Haven, forever linked in my mind with my mother's favorite phrase for describing someone acting bizarrely: "Recess at Schuylkill Haven." (A hundred years ago there was a mental hospital there).
It was a decent auction but will depend on the grading of some of the paper items I bought to determine if it was really successful, but I am optimistic. (Yesterday I sold a Bram Stoker first edition, which I estimated at $50, for more than $520.) The auction took place in the saddest mall I've ever seen, with about 60% occupancy and a forlorn Easter Bunny who wandered the near-empty halls looking for someone, anyone to notice him. There were two men with toupees at the auction, including the auctioneer, who had this almost Hitlerian jet-black forelock that hovered rigidly halfway down his forehead. But the other one was even better: Someone actually had a jet black mullet toupee, and I'm not kidding.