Brody: Excitement from a country auction
Up to then the bidding had been fairly routine.
Country auctions, I’m finding out, are different from city ones. Not so serious and definitely at a friendlier pace. Not every piece out of somebody’s old farmhouse qualified as honest to goodness antiques but they are old and with a certain charm a part of history, that’s what they have and a lot depends price-wise on the clouds, a particular day, and the personality of the auctioneer.
The auction that day was sort of a middlin’ crowd. Leaning to the less expensive. A cherry four poster spindle bed had just gone for t$300, but immediately following that a nice old oak table went for $60 and a hand carved rocker for $45.
So it caught everybody when the auctioneer introduced a pretty cherry desk, the kind with a roll top and lots of little nooks and drawers. Somebody started off with a $50 bid and it followed directly with a $100 bid. Without a moment to consider, the first voice said, “$200!” And the second voice hollered, “$300!”
Well sir, a few other people wanted to get into the bidding but those same two people sitting on opposite sides of the room just kept up-ing it and up-ing it and pretty soon others including myself started turning around to see who on earth was so determined to buy that cherry desk.
And there were these two elderly ladies one was sitting just three rows up from me and I tell you the look on their faces left no doubt as to her intentions.
That auctioneer seemed to forget everybody in that room and just swiveled his head back and forth from one lady to the other.
That man got so caught up in it that he was calling out the bids and they were just sitting there nodding, “Yes, yes, yes.”
“$500!” – “Yes, yes.”
“$600!”– “Yes, yes.”
“$700!” – Nod. Nod.
And finally he said loud and clear, “$1,000!” Nod. Nod.
Then he said, “$2,000!”
And on and on and by this time the entire crowd was mesmerized and everybody’s heads were swiveling back and forth.
I looked at the elderly lady three rows up and wondered what was so special about that desk? Maybe it wasn’t the desk at all but some personal score being orchestrated by the lovely old lady.
Her eyes had taken on a kind of glaze and I could have sworn she no longer even heard the bidding prices. Why, she wasn’t even taking turns nodding her head up and down. She just sat there her face turning bright red and her glasses started down her nose.
“$5,000!” Nod. Nod.
“$6,000!” Nod. Nod.
“$7,000!” Nod. Nod.
“$8,000!” Nod. Nod.
We were all hypnotized and I thought to myself that this thing was bigger than all of us.
“$9,000!” Nod. Nod.
“10,000!” He repeated, “$10,000!” Silence. There was no nod on his left hand. She sat, stony and silent and the blood vessels in her temple and neck stuck out like roads on a map. His head automatically swiveled to the right, “$10,000?” In a burst of emotions that broke the spell that held us all, the elderly lady raised right up out of her seat and yelled, “Yes, yes! It’s mine!”
“Sold to, what’s your name? Hold up your number card sweetheart.” Sold to number 601. Still on her feet her eyes bulged dangerously and her hand shook wildly as she held up her number card. I thought she might have a stroke right there in that room. She did not have a stroke. There was silence in the room.
“Now then,” said the auctioneer, “Who will give me $50 for this nice set of dishes?”
PS. This was the first column that I wrote for the first newspaper I worked for. We’ve come a long, long way baby beginning in 1989.
Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in The Sun for more than 25 years.