Truth be told I've been going to country auctions since I was a kid and it's probably because of my mother I love them so much. When I was about eight years old my mom took my siblings and I with a friend of hers to an auction in Pennsylvania run by the local Amish community. They sold all kinds of things, furniture, baked goods, livestock, etc. If you've never been to one you really should go because they're great fun. The only problem with an auction is that sometimes you can really get caught up in the moment.
To say my mother got caught up in the moment once would be an understatement. I remember the auction was out in the country, in a big red barn and there were hundreds of people there, farmers, families, and lots of members of the Amish community. Even as a kid I was fascinated by the auction. It's really cheap entertainment to watch who buys what, listen to the rapid fire chant of the auctioneer, and to make sure you don't bid on something you don't need like an antique meat grinder or some other crazy thing. Like a pony. Even if it is the most beautiful pony you've ever seen.
Now buying a pony at an auction is probably a really smart thing to do under certain conditions, i.e., 1) you live on a farm, 2) you actually have the money to buy and feed a pony, or 3) you're not buying it because your kids think it's "so cute"! And just so you understand, my family lived in the city, we didn't have a barn, we barely had enough money to pay the bills and shouldn't have been pleading with my mother to buy us a pony. But we did. And she bid! And she kept bidding and bidding until it looked like we were really going to be the proud owners of that pony. In my mind I had already named her Skipper, knew she'd be happy living in our garage and saw myself feeding her delicious red apples from the tree in our backyard. We couldn't believe our (usually) sane mother was actually bidding on a pony for us, and were jumping up and down with excitement! I remember thinking, "Dad's not going to like this!", but trusted my mother had a plan and knew what she was doing. It was all so crazy and unbelievably wonderful! We were going to have our very own pony!
And that's when my mom's best friend, "Aunt" Darla stepped in. She literally grabbed my mother by the shoulders to shake some sense into her and made her stop bidding for our pony. We looked on in horror as we realized our dream was slipping away! Skipper! My mother tried to keep bidding, and struggled valiantly to raise her paddle just one more time, but Aunt Darla was just too strong! She forced my mother's auction paddle from her hand and restrained her until the bidding stopped. Next thing I knew the auctioneer pounded the gavel, pointed to the Amish family sitting near us, proclaimed them the high bidder and awarded them the pony. Our pony. Beautiful Skipper. (Did I mention she was chestnut color with a snow white strip of hair just above her nose?) And just like that, the dream, that never even had a chance to grow, was over.
Now, I can't let it be said my mother didn't immediately realize the mistake she had made. You know, whipping her children into a fevered frenzy, leading them to believe they would get a pony, bidding with an unabandoned crazy lady fervor we never knew she had in her, knowing full well we were all picturing ourselves galloping on the back of our new pony. She sensed our deep disappointment, saw our heads dropped in sadness, and knew she had to make it up to us. So she did what any mother would do. She bid on the very next item up for bid. A rabbit. Suddenly Aunt Darla didn't seem to mind my mother's bidding. She didn't stop her when the auctioneer called for final bids. She knew rabbits only need a box to live in, not a fancy stall, can live off scraps and would never need green pastures. She was okay with the rabbit and made no attempt to take the paddle out of my mother's hand. Oh, no, Aunt Darla thought it was fine that we have a rabbit. For a pet. Oh, how I wish she had grabbed the paddle that time. Trust me when I tell you, rabbits are no where near as much fun as a pony. Not that I'll ever know. (Thanks Aunt Darla.)
Alas, we didn't get the pony but I'll never forget my mother wanted to give us that pony. Now that I'm a mother myself I completely understand a mother who so loves her children she can easily get caught up in the moment! And that still means everything to me!
(Now that I think about it maybe my kids would like to go to a livestock auction. I wonder if they still sell ponies.....)
Ever since that first experience at the auction I've been hooked. When my husband and I were newly married we lived in military housing not far from a large Amish community on the east coast. It wasn't long before I found myself at the weekly auctions held by the various Amish and Mennonite communities. The thrill of the auction is that you never know what you'll find, each week is different.
We now live about an hour's drive from one of the best weekly auctions on the east coast. Dixon's Furniture Company in Crumpton, Maryland holds an auction every Wednesday, 51 weeks out of the year. It's amazing. There are simultaneous auctions being conducted on three football size fields and in an enormous indoor warehouse. The amount of stuff being sold is staggering and the cast of characters frequenting the auction is just as interesting. Antique dealers, junk dealers, and homeowners from as far south as North Carolina and north to Vermont converge on tiny Crumpton every week. You just never know what you're going to find.
Here are some of the "treasures" offered at the Crumpton auction today:
Victorian style sofa sold for $80. Don't you think it would look fabulous recovered in linen and painted out in a soft cream color?
I think this old wash tub would be fabulous filled with ice, beer on one side and wine on the other for a party. I think it went for $40!
Four stenciled chairs went for $40.
A dealer told me these came off the top of old barns. They went for $480 for the pair.
$40 for a sweet painted table.
An example of the "you never know what you're going to find" rule!
This is one of a pair of carts. I think it would be cool in the right space topped with an old board and used as a buffet. They sold for $125 each.
Check back tomorrow, and you'll see some things I picked up at Crumpton, including my all time favorite; "Pearl".