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Lois Vidaver: Sale allows me to pass my treasures to others

Our yearly church rummage sale inspires me. For one thing, I am a declutterer and proud of it. Therefore, I’m glad to have an official excuse to go through my house and toss out the unneeded and unwanted. One friend asked me recently if I was downsizing. “I’ve been downsizing for 50 years,” I said, without exaggeration.

I think the realization that enough stuff is probably too much happened when I was a growing up in a household where my Dad was a civil engineer in charge of overseeing airport construction throughout the Northeast. His responsibilities took about a year each time, and departure time to the next location always seemed rushed. I kept my bedroom drawers neat and tidy so when word came to move on, I was ready in minutes to throw my belongings into the nearest box and trek on to the next adventure.

Moving around stopped 30 years ago, but I’m still culling out my belongings. When our rummage sale was announced, I dug deeper. Using the adage, “If you haven’t used it in a year, toss,” I began the search.

We had a special treat buried in a basement plastic bin: silver serving dishes from my husband’s mother’s family. Mike had a great-aunt who had passed them down to our family. We had never used them (all that polishing!) and it was time to make the decision about their future. Although we had tried to sell them, dealers were not interested because they were silver-plated rather than all silver. We decided to include them in the rummage sale.

The sale is well-organized. Each of the rooms off the main hallway of the church is dedicated to particular items: household, books and children’s items. So the night before the sale, I set my treasures along with the others. The silver shone more elegantly than the household items that surrounded them; maybe that was a good thing. The large round serving plate with three feet supporting it, the candy dish and the cookie tray would stand out to a discerning buyer, I hoped.

The next day, I could not resist going to visit them. Did someone pick them up to give them a new home? After poking around in some of the other rooms, I entered the one marked “Household,” then slowly made my way around the tables until I spotted my silver beauties and realized they had an audience. With a jeweler’s magnifying glass in one eye, a man held the silver tray in his hand and was reading the writing on its back, the two other pieces were piled on top of one another nearby. I stood transfixed at his elbow; he paid me no mind. Should I interrupt his concentration to tell him the family story?

“Are you going to buy the silver?” I finally had to ask. “No,” he said, never taking his eyes off the piece he was holding. “It’s silver-plate.”

“Yes, I know,” I said. “My husband’s great-aunt was a missionary in White Horse in the Yukon for 40 years and she was sure the queen of England would come by to visit someday. She collected the silver serving plates so she would have them to serve with.”

An hour later, after seeing the rest of the sale, I returned to the spot where the silver had been; only one was left. The big tray and the candy dish were gone. Someone had indeed given them a new home. Perhaps the man with the eyepiece liked our family story. I neglected to tell him the queen never showed up.