The Hoarder’s House:An Awesome Picking Tale

If you like picking/junking…you are going to REALLY like my story from yesterday.

It has all the ingredients of a good tale: adventure, a villain, obstacles…and  a great ending.

It all starts on a Sunday afternoon on Craigslist…where most good stories begin. I had been listing most of the morning and needed a break, so I perused the Craigslist garage sale section to see if there were any last day estate sales. An ad caught my attention. It advertised a house packed full from a hoarder and that they needed to get everything out.

Seeing this…I jumped into the nearest telephone booth, sprung out with my “junkin’ cape”, and flew across town in my Jeep Liberty.  After a little trouble locating the house, I managed to find it in a pretty rundown neighborhood. No one was parked in front. I listened to see if I could hear the “chachacha” sound from those Halloween movies.. not hearing any… I decided to venture in.

There was a young 20ish woman out on the carport with some stuff on a makeshift table.  I decided to pick up something to get a feel of what the pricing was going to be. Her first part of her answer was what every junker wants to hear:

“Oh that…how ’bout a dollar? Or whatever. The whole house is packed. My aunt was a hoarder and so was her 90 year old mother. You can go through the whole house….”

The second part of her answer made me pause for a moment and  get on my thinking cap.

“….course we haven’t gone through everything…so there might be some stuff you find that I can’t sell.”

Now…some people would be turned off by that. Why? Well…there are those that want to have everything they find. Me? I’m willing to take the risk. Sure..I might have to put some stuff back…but they ARE trying to sell stuff….some stuff HAS to pass through the sieve and into my arms.

“Hey..thanks!” I said and trudged in. Oh….my..garsh. It was exactly what you see in the TV shows. Wall to wall boxes of stuff. I quickly did a mental check of when my last tetanus shot was and gingerly walked around. As I carefully looked into some of the boxes, I soon found out this was going to be ONE awesome time.  This lady didn’t hoard gross stuff…she just hoarded stuff….fun stuff…stuff that makes you go “Wow…that’s cool she kept this!” This was a house that junker’s dreams are made of.

I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t for the faint of heart. And as some of you know from my past posts, I am a certified germaphobe. But…I have been blessed with the power to “numb” that side of me should the situation need it. The situation definitely needed it.  It was pretty gross in there. A house shut up with stuff for a long time in the Florida heat can manifest some interesting critters. Luckily, the woman said they had “bombed” the place so everything should be dead. So…I was looking at more of a lung problem than a rabies problem.

I was looking around in one of the rooms and starting to fill a small box with some fun stuff…..when I heard THE voice.  This is where the villain comes in.

It seems the boyfriend of the woman had just come back from…oh I don’t know….watching a marathon of “Locked Up” and eating Velveeta sandwiches. His loud know-it-all voice, his shirtless ,flabby body, and his general obnoxious attitude let me know I had another obstacle to face. It appeared the woman had given this dude “the power of scanning” the picked items for good stuff….’cause I guess he was all smart and stuff.

Him:”Uh yeah…hey. I don’t know if the girl told you but we  have to look at everything here before it sells.”

Me: “Yeah..she told me…no problem.”

Him:”Yeah…there’s some cool stuff here. Oh wow…look at this Avon bottle. I think thats an eagle….stuff like this.”

Me: “No problem. I’ll bring out my stuff and you can look at it”

He reminded me of Matt Dillon in all the movies that he played the mean boyfriend that you just wanted to punch.

So, I brought out my first load. I had to take a breather. It was over 90 degrees yesterday…and in an UN-air conditioned house…that’s fierce.

He went through it…piece by piece. Sadly…he was just smart enough to be dangerous. He did pull some things out..nothing horrible….and I paid $20.00 for the first load. And went back in…again..I’m the only one there.

There was just so much stuff. I hadn’t brought a lot of money, so I decided on my next strategy. I picked up a large sturdy shirt box FILLED with ephemera (see this post for that definition).  I scanned the box and knew there was some really great stuff in it….but would it pass the “Matt Dillon” test? I would take the chance.

He started scanning the box..piece…by….piece.  He only took breaks to fight with the girlfriend. My eyes maintained a steady gaze onto said box. He got down to the bottom of the box and there was a section carefully wrapped in tissue paper. I hadn’t noticed it when I picked up the box. He pulled it out. I tried to hold in my gasp. Inside were original 1920’s and 1930’s pictures of movie stars….some signed.

Matt Dillon: “Wow…look at these. Yeah…I’m not going to be able to sell these. Hey…is this that lady from “I Love Lucy? ”

I’m not kidding…he said that.

I paid $20.00 for the remaining things in the box, which I knew were going to be WONDERFUL to look through, and left. It appeared that they needed to leave….the Velveeta was calling.

I got back home and went through the box. I gasped again. Inside the box was 4 Hopalong Cassidy bread label albums with over 20 bread labels. Over a hundred vintage cards, 1939 World’s Fair tickets and stickers, vintage menus, an old unused advent calender, tons of vintage restaurant advertising cards, a Nixon flag, booklets, pamphlets, and brochures from all kinds of places that are probably gone, postcards….just a ton of cool stuff. (The pictures don’t do the stuff justice)….Plus I still hadn’t unpacked the 3 yearbooks, the Bucilla ornaments kit, vintage Strawberry Shortcake stuff, vintage t-shirts, and ton of other “smalls” that were still in my car.

What fun. I…was…the….lizard.

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12 Responses to The Hoarder’s House:An Awesome Picking Tale

  1. Cathy says:

    Uh…that’s amazing. Can you back?? What is in that house???? I need to know!
    Love the story, it made me laugh!

  2. pam says:

    Wow! That is the kind of find where your heart skips a beat when you see it right? I came to you through ATG and love your writing style, just enough sarcasm like me 😉 I so need to start a group of junker friends , but I’ve often thought that would be a disaster if we went out together b/c we’d all be competing for the same things. That is why posts are so satisfying. Definately will be back to see you !

  3. Jess says:

    Epic story + finds!! Way to go!! I drove by an estate sale that I was too scared to go in this weekend, due to the owner sitting outside with a handlebar mustache and burning some tires in the front lawn in a trash can. I keep thinking I probably would have struck gold there… 🙂

  4. Laura says:

    What a fun day – but I’d be kind of scared to go through hoarded stuff. Do you think you’ll risk going back on the off chance that they get tired of having stuff, but no money and decide a few bucks for the junk is better than nothing?

  5. Alyssa says:

    This story was INTENSE!! I would have had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! Sounds like the ultimate “thrill of the hunt.” Congrats!

  6. latenightcoffee says:

    What was it like in there?

    You know the junk drawer you have in your house? The one filled with all the little misfit things and small items you don’t want to throw away..yet. Okay…now imagine what the junk drawers from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s would have contained…and that was the kind of stuff that was in every crevice/box/closet of this house.

    I definitely will go back if/when they post another one.

    But this time I’ll bring my tennis shoes, my own box, and a stash of sandwiches as a distraction for “Matt”.

  7. Marianna says:

    I swear you blog makes me want to stop everything that I’m doing and start scouring the newspapers and craiglist. Very cool stuff. I LOVE the fact that you’ve saved it for another day. It looks like the items haven’t been touched since she put them there. Any idea if the old lady passed away? Would be hearbreaking to think that she had a pretty cool life and her offspring just tossed their family legacy to the wind.

    REALLY enjoy your blog! You really underestimate your talents!

  8. Angela says:

    OMG, how awesome!!! Love hearing all your stories!

  9. Laurie says:

    What a great story- and you tell it so well! I’m glad you found some good stuff and it sounded like quite an adventure, thanks for sharing 🙂


  10. latenightcoffee says:

    Thanks for all your comments. It’s great to be able to tell tales like this without having someone’s eyes roll to the back of their head from boredom.

    From what I understood from that surreal experience…the aunt had died and had already accumulated her mother’s hoarding items…add that to her own…and the house ended up the way it was. They said they had already taken truckloads of stuff out and quite a few dealers had been there too in weeks prior….I cringe at what what may have been removed.

    While hoarding isn’t probably the best way to save things….at least someone is saving it. The box I got (and there were MANY like it in there) had everything meticulously put in envelopes and bags. It is all in SUPERB condition for being paper items.

  11. Kathleen says:

    You’re my idol! Does Hubby ever go with you. Maybe you need to double team this place next time. Maybe even take seperate cars and pretend you don’t know each other??!!

  12. Pingback: Interesting week…interesting stuff. | Late Night Coffee

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