Estate Sale Tales

One of the things I enjoy most estate sales is trying to piece together the story behind the folks whose goods I’m buying. You walk into someone’s house and you try to find the context clues behind their lives—what did they enjoy, what records did they listen to, did they have a sense of humor? I find myself left with those questions every time I go to one.

I got these flannels from an estate sale I hit up a few months back and the whole house was filled with an incredible assortment of goods. If I could have bought everything in it, I would have. Some other treasure hunter scooped up almost all of the Pendletons, but when I got to the closet this assortment of flannels was just sitting there and I scooped them up.

There was a name written on the tag of some of the shirts and when I got home, I did some detective work and discovered the story behind their owner. He was born on the family farm in Kansas in 1923, met the love of his life then went off to fight in WWII. When he left the service in ’46 he and his wife moved to Washington. They had originally lived in the house across the street, but moved to the bungalow I was at in the 60’s. Everything in the house was impeccably maintained—some of the shirts have been patched—built to last. I even picked up a few 78 records—some Merle Travis and Carter Family sides, though I won’t be selling those.

The gentleman passed away in 2005. His wife lived alone in the house for several years, until she went to live with her daughter in Spokane, where she too passed in 2016. I loved digging in and finding the story, filling in the blanks and adding details to the things I find. I’m thankful that I was able to fill in the blanks to their story—they sound like a couple I could talk to at length.

Oh, and while that other treasure hunter thought he had gotten all the Pendletons, I did discover that one from my haul was a secret Pendleton—it had lost it’s label, but the care instructions identify it as a Pendleton with a trademark from 1960! 

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