Rosebud and Other Artifacts at the Garage Sale

June 11, 2011……

I have a lot of stuff and I’m selling some of it at our garage sale tomorrow. Here are a few of the things that are ready to go to a new home:

This arrived under the Christmas tree, a month after president Kennedy was assisinated.

I was afraid of the star spangled trunk because it looked, to my six-year-old eyes, like the president’s flag-draped coffin that was shown on the black and white TV in my parents’ bedroom on the day everyone we knew stayed home to watch the funeral. I thought it would open to reveal a replica of our dead chief of state.  Instead it turned out to be a doll packed in a wardrobe trunk (not a casket) filled with a large assortment of clothing that would be the envy of any 1960’s “girly girl.”

Because I always had difficulty erasing the image of President Kennedy’s coffin from my mind whenever I looked at the trunk, it was hard to play with the doll and clothing inside. Unfairly, they gave me the creeps. Anyway, I was more of a tomboy –  a slingshot toting, bike riding, jeans wearing, snaggle haired, fiendish kind of girl. But I couldn’t ignore this gift that reminded me of the elegant, unhappy, loving-but-sanity-challenged grandmother who sent it to me. At some point I gave the doll a haircut in a misguided attempt to make her look more like me. A lot of the frilly clothing is packed in another box because I am missing some of the hangers. There are a lot of  1960’s Barbie and Skipper outfits and mismatched shoes and accessories — and a really weird Ken spacesuit in the drawers

Here it is open….


When I was eleven, My father took me to Lyon and Healy’s in downtown Chicago under the El tracks on Wabash,  where I picked out this guitar which I’ve played on and off over the years – with the help of occasional group lessons at the Old Town School of Folk Music .

The case is adorned with groovy neon stickers courtesy of my best friend Julie.

 The label on the inside of the case was handwritten by my mother.  Last year I picked up a metal string guitar with a smaller neck. There are few thing sadder to me than an instrument that isn’t played.


My other grandmother, Francie, bought me this turntable as a housewarming present for my first apartment – a tiny studio over a restaurant on North Clark Street.

I placed the needle on the first track of Elvis Costello’s “My Aim is True” album and we danced to the very first and shortest song, “Welcome to the Work Week” because Francie was at least 85 years old at the time (an estimate because she always lied about her age). And I’ll never forget it.

 My husband and I have a digital compatible turntable now, one that downloads all our vinyl tracks onto our computer – but this belt drive beauty still works. And you can order new parts online if you need to. I’ve replaced the belt and stylus several times over the years – it’s easy!


Finally, my Rosebud. This sled came from Arlington Hardware on Clark Street, around the corner from my childhood apartment building. We shared many a thrill and spill on dark winter afternoons – navigating the rocks and ruts and other sledders on Devils’ Hill next to the Lincoln Park Lagoon.

 My son and I rode the sled on the same hill together twenty five years later. Then he rode alone. But nobody has this type anymore — they’re all lightweight plastic and I was afraid Andy would decapitate an innocent toddler – this sled is fast (especially when you rub the blades with bar soap). And heavy. We decided it was safer for all involved to transition to the plastic snowboards and saucers – to keep things evenly matched — and prevent bloodshed.  Maybe some restaurateur will buy it to decorate a Bennigans or another chain eatery.

Things are not supposed to substitute for the memory of the people or experiences they represent. I’m having a hard time with this but I think I’ll be okay if these old friends go to homes where they are wanted.  Then again, maybe I’ll “forget” to put them out tomorrow.

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3 Responses to Rosebud and Other Artifacts at the Garage Sale

  1. jacullman says:

    That can be true. But I’m trying to keep the things that have the most personal significance or that I like the best. Our house was turning into a famiy archive.

    The sled went to a nice man and his son. There was a bidding war for the turntable. No one wanted the doll and case, and I decided that I wasn’t ready to sell the guitar.

    Thanks for stopping by!

    • Jim says:

      Yeah, a house can’t be a museum of the past, you have to live in it today. So it’s about culling the collection to the most key items with associated memories.

  2. Jim says:

    The problem with the past is that in time we’re left with so few ties that remind us of the people we knew. A sled or a guitar can become a vital link.

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