Finding my sea legs

By on August 12, 2014

A yard sailing adventure

LR20140807_CYardSale3Yard and garage sales may be the last bastion of old-fashioned commerce, bazaar-style haggling of wares void of the sticky hands of government taxation and regulation. Let’s hope our elected officials don’t get any bright ideas.

They also represent what has become a trendy movement. Re-use.

One party enjoys the catharsis of downsizing, the other the adventurous thrill of the treasure hunt. Is that a Cabbage Patch Kids sleeping bag for $2? Mother lode!

With the Record Express classified section serving as my treasure map, I set out early Saturday morning, thermos of hot coffee in hand and “Sleepy Hollow” on the radio, to find King Tut’s tomb.

Driving from home to home, neighborhood to neighborhood, strengthens your sense of community while you add to your personal collection of stuff that will some day be featured at your very own yard sale. Re-use!

Stop one in an unassuming alley behind South Spruce Street yielded a painful reminder that my brother is smarter than me. Mastermind. I haven’t laid eyes on that cunning game of logic since junior high school. I never quite mastered it. I’d like to thank Erik Homberger, host of this modest garage sale, for uncorking my pain.

From there it was off to Sutter Village, where I had my eye on a portable grill and some homemade Rice Krispie treats. That’s another great thing about these front yard business ventures, it’s often a family affair, with parents brokering deals on outdated VHS tapes and children minding the food court. In this case it was young Adam and Allison Blankenmyer teasing me with individually-wrapped bouquets of snap, crackle and pop. They had a good marketing plan.

Interestingly, I communicate with their mother Anita quite a bit, as she emails Scouting press releases to the newspaper all the time. But until this morning, I only knew her by her email address. It’s always nice to humanize the conversation.

Also at this multi-family set-up was Landon Scott Elmer, a blossoming young artist who proudly insists on using his middle name while touting the joys of reading history books. When he learned that his photo might appear in this week’s issue of the Record, this boy of many words simply shouted, “Awesome!” Remember his name, I think we’ll hear from this kid again.

Next was Buckwood Hills and a busy thoroughfare of bargain hunters. Among the vendors was Maggie Rosati, who after years of comfort provided by her Cabbage Patch Kids sleeping bag seemed to be in a state of denial.

“Won’t you miss your security blanket?” I asked.

“Nope,” she said.

“Can I take your picture with it as a memento?” I asked.

“Nope,” she said.

Apparently, I lost my charm many years ago. Fortunately, a seasoned veteran of the yard sale circuit happened upon the scene. Jeanne Kauffman, wife of Warwick’s former athletic director, the late Terry Kauffman, expressed interest in the old sleeping bag and talked Maggie into a photo for posterity.

Jeanne, by the way, sells books on Amazon. Google her stage name, “Lititz Nana,” to find out more. Also, Maggie and I worked together as servers at a local restaurant many moons ago. I didn’t even recognize her until halfway through our trip down Cabbage Patch memory lane.

A quick jaunt across town took me to a small sale on South Locust Street, where I met 8½-year-old David Sembrat, who was reluctantly selling his Jeep for $50. This is a powered toy for children, not a full-scale CJ. He simply outgrew it, but he will always have the memories, and $50 buys a lot of Sour Patch Kids.

I wrapped up my adventure, room temperature coffee in the cup holder of my full-size Jeep, at the mega-sale at Lititz Area Mennonite School. The parking lot was full of vendors, selling everything imaginable, including three complete sets of Lincoln Logs! For a moment I was tempted to buy them so I could relive the joy of losing its pieces, one-by-one, all over again.

I did have a nice conversation with Sherman Wall of Owl Hill Road. I couldn’t resist his cigar box full of vintage matchbooks, at 25 cents a piece. Among the gems were an old Hayden Zug’s box of wooden matches, and a book from the Hilltop Inn in Ephrata. The fonts looked like they were at least 40-50 years old. Did I need them? No. But that’s the beauty of these sales, you will buy stuff you don’t need. It’s the love of the hunt. It’s irresistible.

Sherman also has the most impressive collection of old license plates I’ve ever seen, his favorite being a 1950 tractor license from his father’s farm, selling for $75. His dad grew everything from tobacco to tomatoes on the family farm, which was located near the Log Cabin restaurant. The homestead was damaged beyond repair in the Agnes flood of 1972.

During my three-hour trek, I bumped into a former co-worker, a local Scout leader who until this morning was only an email address, the pleasant widow of a beloved school district legend, and a new friend whose matchbook collection is 14 fewer.

My advice to you, join the Lititz Yard Sailing Club and commission the Record as your captain. Grab your classified section, set your course, and let the adventure begin!

If you’d like the Record Express to visit your sale, let us know by emailing Steve at, or calling 721-4423.

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