VickyC ended up clearing about $700 on the Big Yard Sale Adventure. We held the sale open again yesterday (Saturday) from about 7:00 a.m. to around 3:00 p.m., and she sold a great deal of Stuff.
We also ended up having a lot more fun yesterday, because we met a whole bunch of interesting people. On Saturday folks have time to stop and chat.
The sorta-gentrifying neighborhood of shotgun houses and 1920s bungalows where VickyC lives is extremely diverse, populated not only by wanna-be Yuppies, penniless now but one day to be affluent, but also by many Mexican immigrants who communicate through their English-speaking young children. A Sikh temple is a-building down the street, and so quite a few Sikhs live in the neighborhood—an interesting and friendly set. Then, for reasons unknown, a LOT of urban Indians dwell in the area, most of them Navajo or at least identifying with the Navajo nation. A number of impoverished artists also live nearby. All of these people love to shop in yard sales.
An appealing teenaged boy came by in his Sikh robes, two dollars to his name. He bought a few things and coveted—ooohhh how he coveted!—the bass guitar and huge amp that VickyC’s boyfriend had contributed to the event. Of course, the $550 asking price was out of the question. He left his phone number and asked VickyC to ask the boyfriend to call to discuss. This, as it developed, was serendipitous.
The young parents from across the street dropped by with their 15-month-old baby. Dad is fully engaged in neighborhood politics. He stopped to discuss his scheme to create a newsletter that he hoped would be free of the acrimony that has developed over the years as the result of resistance to an old-timer who wants everything his way (so we were told). In the course of a long conversation, we learned a lot about the neighborhood activists, the demographics, and the City’s machinations for and against the large area included in the neighborhood association’s territory.
A Navajo couple dropped by with their young teenaged daughter. They, to tell the truth, were slumming, Sunday driving on a Saturday afternoon by yard-saling through a part of the urb that they considered shaky enough to be dangerous.They lived in Chandler, where they had set up household so they could send their kids through good public schools, in the absence of the same on the Res. Very mainstream middle-class in appearance, they attributed the quality of the school system and the paucity of commerce on the Res to the entanglements of many overlapping layers of government bureaucracy and observed that both of their children were doing exceptionally well in the Chandler schools. They did, however, say they probably will retire to the Res after the kids grow up.
The high point of the day was a 40ish Navajo woman who befriended us with a great deal of chatter and much shopping. She loved VickyC’s mom’s taste in clothes, and she selected about $60 worth of stuff (at a buck apiece). In the course of time, she told us a great deal about herself and her life, talking much more than one expects from Southwestern Native Americans, who tend to be quiet people. It seemed to me that something was not quite right, and eventually she revealed what it was: shortly after she had lost a five-week-old baby, she had fallen out of a moving pickup on the Res and sustained a near-fatal head injury. She survived by dint of brain surgery in a New Mexico hospital (where she had to be airlifted), but it took a year of therapy before she could speak normally and walk. She was very affable and explained to us how she would ceremonially free the clothing of the dead woman from the spirit that might remain and return her (the spirit) to her home at VickyC’s. Eventually she walked home and then returned with some ceremonial items that VickyC could use to assist with this process; she explained how to use them and what all those customs meant, she said, “in your way.”
She waited around most of the day for her husband, who was junketing with his workers, to arrive with some cash. During this time, she folded clothes and kept us company. As one might expect, he was less than thrilled with the plan to fork over $60 or $70 for used valuables. VickyC dropped the price for the mountain of clothing she’d selected to $20 and he relented.
By this time, it was getting late. VickyC announced she was closing the show and started dragging stuff out to the curb, where she intended to leave it for free. When hubby heard this, his enthusiasm rose. Now he started to make his own selections of used valuables, among which, to VickyC’s delight, was an oak entertainment center she had not unloaded. A Mexican woman was also there when the “FREE” announcement came down. She loaded up all the clothes our Navajo friend rejected, along with stacks of kitsch and old cosmetics.
I suggested VickyC call the Sikh kid, since he also coveted a number of valuables but had run out of cash. He appeared in an instant, delighted to get a Giants athletic jacket, a bunch of other baseball clothes, and various tschochkies not to be missed. (What is that kid going to do with that stuff?)
These folks virtually vacuumed the front yard! By the time we were done, all we had to do was haul the trash to the bins in the alleys and carry the tables back inside.
So, it was a great success. To celebrate, we went to dinner at one of those urban underground restaurants that no one knows anything about but everyone should. If you’re ever in Phoenix, it’s the Piccolo Cucina at the corner of Oak and Seventh Street. Don’t miss it.
hágoónee’ for now
California Yard Sale
by S. Michael Miri