Not An Auction, But Something We Wanted To Share With Our Auction Friends !
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THE BUTTON TIN STORY!! I Thought You Might Enjoy Reading This. I was thrilled to find this heartfelt story. Leslie and I have built our auction business on respect for our sellers and buyer’s, followed by personalized one on one service. We make every effort to treat each of our customers in the manner that we would want to be treated if we were seeking a similar service. When you first go into a new business, auction business as well, everyone has lots of advice, but one bit of advice given, has always stayed with me. A gentleman, who was a dealer of antiques said to me, “take seriously what you sell, because as an auctioneer you have people’’s lifetime work in your hands, most of all their “memories.” I didn’’t understand at the time what he meant, until my role of selling personal property began to develop. May I share, with you, my story? “
The Button Tin”
I was very nervous, so I moistened my lips and said a prayer while standing at the weathered door waiting to meet the person who had called me. I had on my “auction jacket” and briefcase under my arm. I’’d driven past the house twice to be sure it was the right one because the numbers were no longer visible from the street. A little lady came to the door, and invited me in. I smiled, introduced my self and handed her my business card. Her eyes were weak and she couldn’’t see to read it, but she looked up at the emblem on my coat and knew for sure who I was. I shook her hand and thanked her for inviting me into her home. I tried to put her at ease by letting my eyes fall upon a treasure she could tell me about. It wasn’’t long until we were chatting like old friends. She was telling of her need to sell all her belongings. She couldn’’t keep up the house any more and the “home” she was going to is all furnished. All she needs is her clothes. Her children are so busy and live several states away and can’’t come to help her. When they were home last time, they had taken what they had wanted. Now she was left with the contents of this big house and must do something! Her cousin, who is also her dearest friend, suggested an auction. Sister Pearl had used an auction company and had been very pleased. Sister Pearl had said these folks have a facility and would come and wrap and move your things. You wouldn’’t have to worry about all this. The house her husband had built for them was already sold. A nephew, who had decided to work here in the hometown, had bought it, but wasn’’t interested in any of the furnishings. His bride had studied interior decorating and had great plans for this old house. As I began to explain how our auction company would help her at her time of need, I could see the worry lines in her face turn into a smile. We set a date to sell her life’’s work to neighbors and friends who could enjoy her treasures. I began to make a list. As she picked up each item, stories of those who had given them to her began to unfold. Each item was replaced very carefully with love to its original spot. As we moved from room to room, each piece of furniture was touched, and her little hand smoothed over it the way she had cared for it all those may years. She thought one of her children would want the bedroom suite. Then she sighed, it is only a full-size and they would want a king-size. “It’’s funny,” she said, “we all slept together real snug, when they were growing up. Times have changed!” The kitchen was filled with lovely old dishes; many casserole dishes were still wearing the masking tape on the bottom marking the name for the many church suppers. Old cookbooks filled with recipes that the “fast-food” world will never know. Inside the books held the memories of the community. There were the clippings of all the local and family deaths. There were clippings of when the neighbor boy went to serve his country, and when he came home and she remembered those who didn’’t. Clippings of every wedding and school award for her children, nieces, and nephews were in between the worn pages. Yes, this cookbook has more than wonderful recipes, for it held “memories.” In the spare room, there was an old quilt box. With fabric worn and tattered that once matched the drapes in the bedroom she had shared with her bridegroom of 68 years. We raised the big lid from the box as she told of her father making this for her “hope chest” when she was just a girl. It was filled with hand-stitched quilts, for she never threw anything away. She had made one using her little son’s overalls, patches on knees and all. Another quilt showed her daughter’’s dresses with pockets still on the little skirts, just like in the days when they dressed up for church. She told of selling her eggs and buying the “fanciest” feed sacks the mercantile store sold to make clothes and the scraps went into quilts. “Times were hard but we were always warm,” she said. The ladies at church would get together and quilt and exchange news of the week. For each home they would embroider their names for a ‘friendship quilt.’ “It was a wonderful time,” she reflected. “Times have changed, but I have my memories.” We talked on and she told how she had visited many of her friends at the “Rest Home” last week. It was new and been built at the edge of town where the Mayor’’s big cornfield used to be. As we talked she opened the old hump back trunk and began to take out the crochet items, showing me which ones she had made and the ones her mama had. “I don’’t have room for these in my new home,” she said. Then she turned her head and with blurred eyes she asked, “Will anyone want these old hand made things I have?” I assured her that young ladies would buy them and enjoy them very much. In the corner of the room sat an old treadle sewing machine that had stitched from patching overalls to the elegant wedding dresses of her daughters. She remembered how she would hum her favorite hymn as she peddled away. “Sweet memories,” she sighed. On the top shelf in the closet I could barely see what looked like an old tin. I found me a stool, then reached up and pulled down an old fruitcake tin. Slowly I opened it. Inside were buttons of every color and shape. I handed the tin to the little lady. Her hands trembled, while tears filled her eyes. She said, “I haven’’t seen these for a long time. On rainy days my children used to make necklaces from these.” Then she began to hold button by button in her wrinkled hand and tell where it came from. “Oh the memories. This white one with a scrap of red flannel was from Grandpa’s Union suit. It was itchy, but warm,” she laughed. “This satin button came from my wedding dress. Here is the baby button off my first-born’s infant dress. Typhoid fever was bad one year. The angels came and took her when she was only 2 years old.” She paused as a tear trickled down her cheek. Then with a childlike grin on her face and a gleam in her eye she said, “This glass button came off my aunt’’s dress. She sang in the choir at church. She was blessed with a strong voice and a large bosom and every time she hit the high notes her buttons would pop wide open. Us kids would giggle every time and Poppa, grinning under his breath, would pretend to scold us.” She went through each button, lost in each memory. Then she closed the old tin and quietly handed it to me. “Here,” she said. “Sell my buttons to the highest bidder. I will always have the memories in my heart. I can say good-bye to all my earthly possessions. I have enjoyed them. Now let someone else make their memories.” I gathered my papers, gave my client a big hug and said I would take care of all the arrangements of moving and selling her “memories.” As I got in my truck to leave, I looked back at the old house with the ivy growing on the side, with the old apple tree in bloom, I could see in my mind’s eye children playing, little boys in overalls and girls in dresses with pockets bulging with cookies made from those old recipes. Yes, today I had made my own “memories.” I drove away feeling enriched, thanking God for the wonderful profession he allowed me to be in, and I vowed to always take seriously and to respect my seller’s “memories.” Written by Claueda Barks Barks Auction Service Jackson, MO.