My yard sale heritage

Posted by Jenny in Grab Bag | 8 Comments

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. I’ve been busy with a bunch of not-at-all-yard-sale-related activities, including an extended Thanksgiving visit to my parents’ house in Berkeley. I’ve mentioned before that they are longtime yard sale aficionados and started me out right with a healthy love of secondhand treasure hunting in various venues. When I was really little, I don’t remember being toted around to yard sales so much as making regular walks to our neighborhood park, which conveniently also featured a constantly-overflowing freebox. We also made occasional visits to our local Value Village, which were always thrilling for my sister and me. As I got older we started doing the occasional weekend yard-saling tour de Berkeley. Hitting sales was also a regular and much-loved feature of our annual summer visits to grandparents in Florida and New Jersey. (The trove of vintage clothes, ’50s high heels, and rhinestone jewelry I picked up as a young teen in the early ’80s! I feel jealous just thinking about it, even though it was me who bought it. But most of that stuff is long gone or destroyed, and I would be thrilled to come across those kinds of things now, especially at the ludicrously cheap prices I paid then.)

Anyway, as you can imagine, my parents’ house is full of interesting items, and I decided to take a few pictures to document some of their yard sale scores. Of course, there is so much weird and old stuff in their house that I wasn’t always sure whether something was bought at a yard sale, was a hand-me-down from one of my grandparents, or was just something my parents had purchased decades ago and kept around all this time. But they verified for me that all of the following items did indeed come from yard sales.

First, we have what is one of my favorite things in their house, period.


My mom purchased these two ladies at a sale she stumbled upon while out walking the dog. They were $1 each and were supposedly once used in a magic show. They are shown here in their summertime location in front of the fireplace; in fall they move to the hallway, greeting visitors as they walk through the front door.

This lovely (if a bit beat-up) lamp was purchased by my dad for the princely sum of $2.

Vintage Chinese lamp

In case you are wondering what’s going on there, that’s my dad holding up a jacket for shade, since my photos were coming out all glare-y. I also took a close-up of the base, and only just now noticed the nicely coordinating figures in the background. I will take a wild guess that they came from some other yard sale.

Vintage Chinese lamp close-up

Moving out to the back yard, we have these two interesting oblong faces hanging on a fence.

Unidentified tiki-like objects

My mom bought these (knowing my dad would love them for yard art) for a buck or two apiece. Amazingly, when I was making the yard sale rounds with her last August, we came upon another one of their kind: same exact shape, with an even more elaborate paint job. It was priced at $5, and would have joined its brethren in the back yard if someone else hadn’t already been in the process of purchasing it.

A recent addition to the back yard is this statue.

Good Dog Carl

Those with kids (or those who read kids’ books) may recognize him as Good Dog Carl. (Now that I’m looking at Carl a little more closely I’m not sure if that’s really who he’s supposed to be, but that’s what we’d all assumed, and as far as I’m concerned he’s close enough.) Every time I walked outside I would automatically and instinctively flinch, thinking there was some big dog in the yard, even though I already knew it was just a statue.

Finally, stowed away in the basement are two of these exotic floor chairs.

Lovely vintage seat/stool/ottoman thing

My sister picked them up at a sale, then decided she doesn’t really have a place for them at her house. So here they are, waiting for another go-round in the yard sale catch and release program (it was in reference to these very chairs that I first heard her use that term). Which shouldn’t be a problem since my mom has a yard sale every summer (when my dad’s out of town — he loves going to yard sales, but cannot stand having them).

Not pictured: approximately 10,000 other items purchased at yard sales over the years.