Sunday, July 24, 2016

REMINISCING: Garage Sales, Music to My Ears

We went to a garage sale earlier in the day (I’m writing this Friday night). We found a couple musical instruments at the sale which came home with us. We added a second trombone and a second trumpet to our collection. Meanwhile, we still rent a saxophone for Patience to play. Anyway, this week’s “Reminiscing” will be a two-fold column. I will talk about music and what I’ve learned about it. I will also talk about garage sales from the pre-eBay days.

My grandmother was a piano player. All in all, she was a very musical person. She played trombone in her school days. I learned that just a few years ago when one of the twins was talking about playing trombone in school. I remember the piano, though. She had one at her house, and for a short time, she also had an organ. I never remembered her playing the organ, though. There were lots of times she would play the piano for me. I have a cassette around here somewhere that has her playing and me singing.
courtesy household-tips.

I always wanted to be a musician, but I never really pursued it. I’ve picked up a few things along the way. I used to stay at Grandma’s house during the summer quite a bit. There were a couple summers that she used to give piano lessons to some local kids. I would watch and listen as she taught them. That was how I learned the very basics. I wanted her to give me lessons, but for some reason she never would do it. I never really pursued it. By the time we got to fourth grade, I wanted to play either trumpet or saxophone. Again, I didn’t pursue it.

My kids love music. We have a piano that we bought from an old babysitter when she was moving. The twins would bang on it when they were really little, and had a couple of friends give them some lessons. One time, I was showing Patience how to play “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I ran through it a couple of times and then let her at it. She played around for a bit, and finally had me come back to listen to her song after she learned it.

When I got to the piano, Patience sat down and started to play. What she played was very recognizably “When the Saints Go Marching In.” However, not only was it in an entirely different key, it was much jazzier than the rendition I had given her to try. She was probably five at the time. I knew then that they got the music gene from my grandmother.

Another time, the twins were supposed to be practicing their respective instruments -- IdaLena on trombone, and Patience on sax. I could hear them goofing off from the other room. I yelled for them to cool it and play. What I heard was passable music, although not as smooth as they normally played. When I walked into the living room to get them playing correctly, I discovered that they had traded instruments and were playing each other’s music. They had no lessons on the other’s instrument, but they could figure out enough to be passable.

Back to the garage sale, we brought home the trumpet and trombone. Apparently the girls were playing music all day while I was at work. They were teaching each other how to play each instrument. Corliss was even trying to teach Josephine how to play the trumpet. Of course, Corliss doesn’t have the personality to teach music, so there was a bit of arguing. Still, the four of them playing all day. For $20, they had a great amount of fun.

Yes, you read that right. We spent a total of $20 on a student level trumpet and trombone. It is very unusual to find very many bargains at garage sales these days. With the advent of eBay and Craigslist, it seems everyone thinks their garbage is worth a mint. What has suffered has been the quality of garage sales over the last twenty years.

My mother and my grandmother used to love to go “garage sailing.” Sometimes, as a 10-year-old kid, it was boring. Other times, we found some great treasures at awesome prices. My grandmother got the infamous Tinker Toys and a train set. I still have the train set. After years of playing with it on Grandma’s living floor, it made its way to Lockport. Other times, we found toy cars, sand toys, and books.

As I got older, I drifted away from going to garage sales. But then, I started driving for my job and I’d pass all these sales during the summer. I would sacrifice Friday lunches in order to cruise the sales in the Amherst/Tonawanda area. I found boxes of books on the sides of the road. I found bargains at sales. All of them went in the back of the van and came home. I’m sure there were days that Wendy just rolled her eyes and shook her head when I came home with yet another treasure.

Lately, it has been harder to find bargains at the sales. So, today’s find was extra special. At the same time, Wendy found a tote full of crafts for $10. She sorted it out while I was at work and there is a bunch of stuff for the girls to do. They love crafts. Just going through the tote was probably worth the price we paid. There are a bunch of things Wendy and the girls can do on those cold, snowy days this winter. The garage sale was a really great find.

It used to be that garage sales were pretty popular. When my Mom had some, there were people lined up waiting for when the sale opened. We’ve had a couple garage sales, but they have never been as popular was the ones from back in the 1980s. Other sales in the area seemed to have gone through the same thing. There was probably a 10-year period where these sales were not well attended. Thankfully, they are coming back. You can meet new neighbors, revisit old friends, and sometimes find great treasures. Just like trombones and trumpets.

Craig Bacon is still on the lookout for that one irresistible, mind-numbingly awesome bargain at a garage sale. I will continue the search.