Tuesday, July 18, 2006

world's longest yard sale

It’s almost time. In a little over two weeks, hundreds of thousands of bargain shoppers will descend upon a 450 mile stretch of US Route 127 from Covington, Kentucky, through Tennessee and Georgia, to Gadsden Alabama for the world’s longest yard sale . The sale, which started in 1987, runs for four days beginning the first Thursday of every August.

A few years ago, four generations of the women in my family piled into a couple of SUVs for a day of camaraderie and a little friendly competition over custard dishes and folk art furniture. Sacks full of candy bars and peanut butter crackers were our only provisions. I was the designated driver for my grandmother, mom and aunt. My cousins manned the other vehicle and attempted to take the advantage with their eagle eye kids as scouts. But while they had youth and vigor on their side, we had 100 extra years of collective bargain hunting experience on ours.

At first we stayed together, relying on urgent hand signals indicating possible treasures ahead. As the day wore on we leapfrogged each other, scoping out territory and reporting back to the team. That year we braved scorching heat and torrential downpours but came away with truckloads of dishes, furniture, artwork, vintage linens, watering cans, glassware and the deep satisfaction of a job well done.

Most of my finds are in daily use while others, like the set of vintage ice cream sundae glasses that I had to have, still sit unused in my cupboard three years later. I suppose I should pass them on to someone else but, even now, I remember the thrill of peeking into a sodden card board box shoved under a wobbly card table and seeing them for the first time. For now, they stay - at least until next year when I need to make room for my haul from the 20th anniversary of the sale.


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