Dirty Estate Sale Weekend.

We hit the double-whammy of weird, dirty sales this weekend. The first was a demolition sale in Winnetka. I’ve never been to one of these before but Katherine at BackGarage listed it in her Garage Sale Hotlist (if you’re in the Chicagoland area and haven’t signed up for this valuable FREE resource, what the heck is wrong with you? Get over there!) and it sounded fascinating. The deal was that you paid $1 every time you came in the door, but other then that, everything was free. How could I resist? It was in a beautiful neighborhood in a chi-chi Chicago suburb, so I was completely taken aback when I walked in the door and found a scene out of a disaster movie — the house had clearly been shut up for over 20 years (I’m guessing, but judging from the dates on the old newspapers piled everywhere, it had been at least that long. We got there fifteen minutes after the door had opened and people had already swarmed the bigger items of furniture and were in the process of hauling them out. The house — deserted, abandoned, filthy, cluttered — was disturbing enough but, as I told Justin, the people were even more disturbing: I felt as though I had walked into a “Night of the Living Dead” remake. Everyone was almost completely silent and instead of just moving things aside to look at items, they were dumping things and upending things tossing things aside in a most unnecessary, destructive manner — two men even joined forces and tipped the bed in one of the bedrooms over. For what, I’m still wondering. To look at what was under there? Why not just look under the bed? People, it was weird. The ad had said to bring a flashlight because there was no electricity. I didn’t pay any attention to this because the idea of a house being completely dark in the middle of the day was inconceivable to me, so there were corners of the basement I couldn’t even venture into. There was a great vintage wire laundry basket in the basement that I would have taken but it was actually full of dirty laundry, sitting beside the washer, just waiting for someone to throw in the washing machine. The clothes were practically fused together, they had been sitting there for so long and were apparently damp when they went into the basket. In many places, the ceiling had leaked, and there were puddles of water everywhere and, of course, mold was slowly taking over.

Really, it put a damper on the rest of the morning. It was really depressing. Why does something like that happen? Because someone dies without relatives who can come and clean things out? Or they have relatives who are just too lazy or incapable of handling things? It just made me feel sad for the previous owner.We picked up a few things — some vintage dish towels that I’m trying to get the moldy smell out of, some dishes that were sitting on the kitchen table, under a leak in the roof, and, as a result, are full of ceiling plaster…but even thosethings I took halfheartedly because the whole thing made me feel bad.

It didn’t help that we hit the second-most depressing sale I’ve ever seen later that morning. This was an estate sale, and the sister of the deceased was running it. As we approached the apartment, a woman on her way out said muttered to me under her breath, “You are not going to believe this.” Never a good sign. The woman who lived in the apartment was like a cautionary tale for me. She was clearly a yard sale, auction, thrift store fanatic. She had boxes and bags and stacks of things in ever corner and every square inch of the apartment, many of them still wrapped up in newspapers as though she had never unwrapped them after bringing them home. If it were just clutter, I could handle it. But the house was filthy. By the time I got to the kitchen, I was already starting to itch. Out on the back porch I was filled with equal parts revulsion and fascination (a feeling similar to the one I have while watching Toddlers & Tiaras): there were just stacks and stacks of things to look through but everything was covered in a layer of grime, especially those things in cross proximity to the kitchen — I got this great dish that had a coating of decades-old cooking grease on it. I’m a little disgusted at myself for even buying it. When we got back to the car I asked Justin if he felt itchy — he said he felt like something was biting him on the back porch, which is exactly what I felt. So now I’m sure that we brought bedbugs back with us and all of the paper goods I bought there are sitting on the back porch awaiting a delousing. I’ve never felt more like I needed to clean out my house. Had I my camera with me, I would have taken many, many pictures and posted them on the fridge to remind myself what not to become.

Below are some items I rescued from the filth at that sale.

dirty estate sale finds 4

This is an old clock cabinet that someone put shelves in. Love the gold paint on the glass door.

dirty estate sale finds

The glass candlewick salad set was $10. I usually wouldn’t pay that much for one item at a yard sale but I loved that there were so many pieces — especially love the very heavy glass utensils that came with it. The dish in the middle is the one that was covered with kitchen grease…my hands smelled awful after I picked it up. Ewww. I’m grossing myself out all over again. And the little deer figurine was just a bit of kitsch I couldn’t resist.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to take a shower.