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  • The Auction

    August 4, 2006

    When I was home recently in central Illinois, a house down the street from my parent’s home was up for auction. The elderly owners had both passed away leaving everything in their home exactly as they had left it. Like my parents, they had lived in their home for 50 years. When you are in one place that long, you accumulate a lot of stuff.

    In spite of having lived there for so long, few people had seen the inside of the home and there was a lot of curiosity.

    On the day of the auction, my mom walked down the street to view the spectacle. Some people were there seeking a bargain, others were simply driven by the morbid curiosity of watching the accumulation of two lives being distributed among strangers.

    My mom said she expected that the house, the car and the furniture would be sold off, but that she was surprised at the personal things that were being auctioned, particularly the shoes. She said that there is just something so very personal about someone’s shoes.

    “I was a bit surprised that they sold their dad and mom’s shoes and a lot of other personal items,” she lamented. “That doesn’t seem right to sell them at auction.” Then she quickly added, “Will you please give our stuff to Goodwill rather than have someone hold up my panties for a bid!”

    I promised her that I would spare her post-mortem humiliation in front of the entire neighborhood — even though she blew kisses to me from the car window embarrassing me in front of my entire 4th grade class.

    Life is embarrassing and then you die. And then they auction off your panties.

    24 Comments »

    1. Rebecca says:

      Oh, there was a house in my town like that! The reclusive old owner had died and left no descendents, so there was an auction of his things. Everyone was curious and showed up AND HIS HOUSE WAS FULL OF TREASURE. I dragonishly yearned for the tiny Indian ivory miniatures and the gigantic cowgirl paintings, but I didn’t get them. His underwear, however, didn’t make it to the auction.

      August 4th, 2006 at 12:20 pm

    2. Kvetch says:

      Central Illinois, eh? I’m in Illinois too, as you may have gathered at some point. Or maybe not.

      I always wonder, ok not always, what will become of things once I’m “gone.” Having had some personal experience with that in the not too recent past, I guess it’s logical I’d contemplate it. Anyway, I got rid of some things – lest anyone find some trashy novels upon my untimely demise! EEK!

      August 4th, 2006 at 12:37 pm

    3. Terri says:

      When my mother gets a little “out of control” these days, I give her “that” look and she says, “I know, I know – you’re chooseing what home I’ll go to! I’ll be nice.”

      August 4th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    4. liz says:

      I’m in Central Illinois! I went to an estate sale a few years back and the lady’s lipsticks were for sale. I’m like your mom, I don’t want my personal stuff out there, I told my husband and my best friend to just pitch my makeup please, don’t put it in the estate sale. I guess I should tell my kids the same thing, they weren’t old enough then.

      August 4th, 2006 at 12:48 pm

    5. Antique Mommy says:

      Who on earth buys someone else’s lipstick!? Uck! Maybe the same people who buy the underwear.

      When I was ten I bid on and won a little antique children’s book at an estate sale and I still have it. It’s probably the one thing in my house I’d try to rescue from fire (except the kid of course!) The inscription of the Sunday school teacher who gave it to one of her pupils for Christmas is dated something like 1868 – just post Civil War.

      August 4th, 2006 at 1:13 pm

    6. Barb says:

      My mother-in-law knew for about six weeks before she died that she was terminal. She was ambulatory until the very end. Being a child of the depression era, she never ever threw anything out. So her underwear drawers were a tad full to say the least. I’ll never forget walking in one day and seeing her with a trash can in her room, tossing out every single old bra and pair of panties. She was mortified at the throught of even her kids going through her underwear. I knew she was serious about that if she was throwing something away.

      August 4th, 2006 at 1:51 pm

    7. Lena says:

      That’s so funny: my mom and I JUST got off the phone after I asked her “Mom, do you want me to come in and pluck your chin hairs if anything happens to you?”.

      Personally, I say YES! 😉

      August 4th, 2006 at 2:11 pm

    8. Roxanne says:

      Okay. . .just WHO buys used panties? That’s MY morbid curiosity. Or was that a rhetorical question? My mother was always so appalled at her wealthy aunt who would not buy new socks but wore her dead husbands old tattered dress socks. . .the aunt was depression era too. Mom respected the frugal nature of my aunt, but I assured Momma that when it was her “time” to go into a “home” that if it couldn’t be mine I would find one with lovely chandeliers and make sure she had pretty, new socks to wear every single day.

      August 4th, 2006 at 2:22 pm

    9. Bev says:

      I’m here by advice from my sister – http://www.anewchelseamorning.blogspot.com She told me she reads you regularly and finds regular LOL stuff. Just what we need right now. So I come to visit and yep, story about underwear and used lipstick. I’ll be back.

      By the way, I had someone tell me the told their parents, either throw it out or deal with the fact that it’s going on the “anything for a quarter” table…

      August 4th, 2006 at 3:37 pm

    10. Kim S says:

      I went to a home auction like that one time and was so disturbed by the whole thing. The kids were young and sold everything including family china and silver. I couldn’t help thinking that some day they would wish they had those things instead of the quick cash.

      August 4th, 2006 at 3:38 pm

    11. Kelley Smith says:

      I gues it should tell us something about “stuff”. Our “stuff” never means as much to anyone as it does to us.
      But my mother has threatened to haunt me. She has notes in special pieces of china that say “This was my mother’s don’t sell!”.

      And I agree there are things about buying used underwear at an auction that disturb me in many ways!

      August 4th, 2006 at 4:09 pm

    12. Damselfly says:

      I think that’s a new quotable quote, there.

      August 4th, 2006 at 4:23 pm

    13. Undercover Angel says:

      The person who commented about her mother-in-law throwing out her old bras and panties really got me to thinking. The last thing I want when I go is my children rifling through my undies – or someone else buying them and wearing them. It all just seems so wrong in every aspect. I think I’ll go through my dresser drawers tonight and make sure everything that’s old goes to the garbage since you never do know when it’s your turn to go…

      August 4th, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    14. jamie says:

      My mother once had a garage sale & asked everyone in our family to bring over what they wanted to sell, already priced. We laughed hysterically when my dad brought in his underwear, & later, we were dumbfounded when a lady wanted to buy it. My mother thought it was so pathetic that she ended up just giving it to her. Turns out, the lady used it for some kind of craft project…or so she said.

      August 4th, 2006 at 8:38 pm

    15. chelle says:

      hehe your ending would make a great tagline!
      I am on a mission to share some blog love. I always enjoy stopping by your place, I have a drink, spit out the contents onto my monitor, as I read your wit and humour! Much blog love and have a great weekend!

      August 4th, 2006 at 10:41 pm

    16. Mommy off the Record says:

      LOL. That totally needs to be put on a bumper sticker.

      August 5th, 2006 at 1:13 am

    17. not-so-deep Denise says:

      We have friends that run an auction business and I’ve been there when they clean out a house. The family gets to choose first and then it’s fair game!

      My mother-in-law bought me someone’s collection of swizzle sticks from around the world. I was facinated by them when we were cleaning and she got them for me. The funny thing is my kids love them! My son walks around the house with one like a toothpick!

      Tell your best friend to clean out your drawers (or private libraries!)

      August 5th, 2006 at 7:24 am

    18. Susan says:

      My family does not through anything away. It is a sickness.

      Then there were my mother’s counsins who gave all their mother’s stuff away to Goodwill or sold it. This included some of my great-grandmother’s things. My mother would have loved to have a few of those things, but they are gone forever. (No panties or lipstick though, please.)

      August 5th, 2006 at 8:33 am

    19. Tammy says:

      That is a great post! And I have been to estate sales like that. And on a serious note, don’t you wonder about all those very old family photos you see in antique shops? My mom has old family photos dating back to tin types…I can’t imagine selling them to strangers! And by the way, why would strangers really want photos of ancestors not theirs?

      It’s always made me wonder!

      Glad you’re not going to be autioning off your mom’s panties!

      August 5th, 2006 at 1:10 pm

    20. Aunt Murry says:

      For some reason that made me cry. I’ve been having a hard time of late and missing my friend who commited suicide. I guess it just hit me wrong.

      August 5th, 2006 at 5:26 pm

    21. Jules says:

      I was a cemetery & funeral director for years and families not only auction off your things, they fight over the property. It was quite common for families to begin fighting over the division of property while making funeral arrangements, knowing that their mother or father had died only hours before their arrival at the funeral home.

      August 6th, 2006 at 4:21 pm

    22. Kacey says:

      Your post is great, but it gave me a real problem….. should I clean out my drawers or just stop wearing them altogether?

      August 6th, 2006 at 5:18 pm

    23. Teacher Lady says:

      Oh, I think that’s my new motto. Perhaps it will even be my epitaph.

      August 6th, 2006 at 6:09 pm

    24. jouette says:

      you are a blessed daughter to spare her mother the panty auction. great post and great line, I’m going to use it, just wait it’ll be a bumpersticker soon!

      August 6th, 2006 at 10:23 pm

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