BOSTON — As someone whose primary education took place in Filene's Basement - Boston's legendary discount store - I learned early to spot a bargain.
The perusal of yard sales, therefore, was a sort of grad school, a rite of passage that came with a driver's license and a car with a good set of brakes.
A friend eagerly joined me in this weekend quest. We'd scour newspapers for sales in the toniest neighborhoods - and head off with full wallets and an empty trunk. One spring day we were cruising along: "Moving, everything must go" a sign in front of a grand Victorian house winked.
The garage swelled with garden tools, a gas grill, an old birdbath, even a bowling ball in a canvas case avec leather handles.
The world hadn't seen a grin like mine since 1922 when Howard Carter popped the top off Tutankhamen's tomb.
My friend headed for the lawn, strewn with silver, leather-bound books, and costume jewelry.
"Oh, wow," she exclaimed, snatching up a leather purse with a gold double-G clasp. "Gucci!" she gasped, slinging the strap over her shoulder and running towards the garage to show me.
"STOP. THAT'S MY BAG!" shrieked a well-dressed woman in hot pursuit, who had put down her purse to examine a vase.
"Oh, I'm, I'm, so-o-o sorry," my friend stammered, while turning the color of a stop light.
Traffic at the sale froze.
Everyone glared at the "thief," who shrank like a cheap cotton shirt. Grabbing my arm, she dragged me back to the car. "But, the bowling ball...." I pleaded.
Thus ended my friend's yard-sale education. "What if someone Thus ended my friend's yard-sale education. "What if someone recognized me?" She can, however, be found shopping in relative obscurity at Filene's Basement, on occasion.
Over the years my obsession for bargain hunting has grown to the point where my cellar is as hazardous as a mine field. "You should have your own yard sale," a friend tactfully commented after surviving a tour of my basement. "I'll help you," he offered.
I would, but who on earth would want any of this junk? And besides, I don't think I could part with a single old Ball preserving jar.
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