The Girl at the Yard Sale

The great thing about yard sales is the element of surprise. Will you sell that top-of-the-line jig saw made in Switzerland, only used a couple of times, still in its fancy case? Will someone not be

able to resist that shawl in beautiful earth tones from Bali? What about the Japanese vase made out of a fat section of bamboo, so simple and elegant?We had a yardsale today and none of the above sold. No matter. It was a great day, and I’ll tell you why.

I was selling a dozen or so Easton Press books. They are the classics, leather bound with fancy gold (real gold, they say) lettering and designs on the covers, gold edged pages and elegant illustrations. I inherited them and although they are handsome on a bookshelf, they just didn’t look comfortable on our bookshelves. They needed another home where they would be loved.

Two sisters came along, shorts, pierced ears, cute purses and ball caps. The younger one saw the books. “Ohhhh. I love books!  These are so great! I just love them!” and she picked up one, petting the cover, fingering the gold embossing. She opened it lovingly, cooing over the print, the illustrations, and generally being a really enthusiastic teenager.

“Do you have Of Mice and Men?” She was almost afraid to ask. It was a long shot that it would be one of the dozen in the box.

My heart jumped. I did! I picked it out of the pile and handed it to her. She was ecstatic. “It’s my favorite book. It is sooo good!”

She went on to tell me that she was going to have a Sweet Sixteen party soon, and she wanted to have decorations that included old books, candles and flowers. “These are so perfect—“  She didn’t finish because she spotted the Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and went into a swoon. The cover had a large gold-embossed fingerprint on the cover.

We negotiated a price, which included a special discount for book-loving teenagers, and she decided that she could get two. The lucky ones were Of Mice and Men, and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

“Well,” I said, “I forgot to say that for Sweet Sixteen parties there is a special – buy two and get one free.”

“No!!! Really??? Oh, my god. I am soooo happy,” and she returned to the stack of books. Her sister reminded her that next year in school her class would be doing reports on Benjamin Franklin, and, look, there was his autobiography. Her mother came up and added that it was a very good book. The sixteen-year-old-to-be thought this was a good idea, and added Ben Franklin to Steinbeck and Doyle, already clutched in her arms.

I gave her a box for her books and she gave me the money. I said I was really glad that the books were going to have a good home, and thanked her for stopping by. She bounced off with a big smile, having no idea that she – I don’t even know her name – made my day, my week, probably my month!

10 thoughts on “The Girl at the Yard Sale”

  1. How lucky can you be to encounter a teen with a love of good books? That would have made my day as well. Were I present, I may have purchased that jigsaw. Can hardly refuse tools and books. Great story! Thank you for sharing.

  2. What a sweet story! I’ve always enjoyed watching what buyers are drawn towards and often surprised at their interests. You never know what might be a hot ticket. How special that it was a happy teenager! It would have made my day too! Now, about that Japanese vase out of a large section of bamboo, I’d be checking that out and probably the shawl and the saw too! ?

    1. So glad, Jane. We were out of town for several days– in beautiful green Wyoming — and I couldn’t reply to comments. I hope you have had many good days lately, and many more to come!

  3. What a great encounter! It’s the unexpected surprises we get when we interact with people unlike ourselves that are the best.

  4. After our recent exchange of letters I’ve been reading all your posts. My reply here is because when my daughters’ first child was born she asked that one of the baby gifts be a favorite book (presumably to be read 15-20 years hence). I chose for Maya, John Nichols’ New Mexico trilogy because Milagro Bean Field War is at the top of my list, and because I remembered the other two volumes as advocacy for strong, spirited, go-for-the brass ring women.
    Comment two: I just want to say how much I admire your writing. Descriptive, yet uncluttered. Clearly stated observations that move in a purposeful direction; a certain modesty when revealing you own thoughts and feelings. And by the end, a story very much worth reading. If I could capture it all in a word (or two): deliciously poignant. Thank you for sharing your experiences.

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