|As a frequent visitor to many yard sales in my area I jumped at the chance to go to the World's Longest Yard Sale that stretches through five states over a four day period every August. The yard sale winds for 654 miles from West Unity, Ohio to Gadsden, Alabama. And trust me when I say that a lot of people participate in this yearly adventure. If you are looking for a particular item to complete a collection or looking for an unusual gift for someone, then you have found the perfect place. There is only one problem: Where do you start?
Since I live relatively close to Alabama, my mom decided that we should head over that way. We started out early (about 9:00) and were on our way. As we left town, it seemed that every other house was having a yard sale. (Hhhmmmm) Houston, I think we have a problem?
Mom looked over at me and asked, "Do you want to stop at any of those?"
"No! I want to go to Alabama, let's keep going."
We kept going, and in the first twenty miles we probably passed over 20 yard sales. (I noticed Mom glancing over at me and frowning as we passed by each one.) We were over 100 miles from the official longest yard sale; I guess everyone wanted to get on the bandwagon.
After driving for 1.5 hours we reached a town that was "officially" a part of the 654 mile shopper's paradise, Summerville, Georgia. Mom looked over at me and asked the same question once again. "Don't you want to stop at any of these sales?"
Quite unexpectedly, I made a sharp right hand turn into a church parking lot that was crammed full of would be shoppers. I almost threw mom into the backseat and was rewarded with a look that used to send shivers of fear down my spine when I was a child: The over-the-glasses look. When you saw that look, you knew you were in trouble.
I was out of the car in a flash and was making my way to a local park that was packed with sellers of all kinds. Mom, who was a little out of breath when she caught me wanted to know why I was in such a hurry.
"Trolls," I said.
"Oh dear," she replied. "We're never getting out of here."
To the uneducated and uninformed, troll collecting is a multi-billion dollar industry worldwide. People have been known to spend their life savings on just the perfect troll. Trolls come in many shapes and sizes, colors and styles, and each collector has his or her own particular reason for collecting them. I have a reason but I keep it to myself.
I walked right over to the troll vendor and began to peruse her wares. I looked up one table and down the next. (Nothing) I moved down to the next table and there it sat. Troll perfection!! It was a 1935 green-haired, orange-eyed beauty manufactured by the Alexander Family of southern Ohio. It stood slightly over 12 inches tall and was made of corn husks. It was a gold medal find in an unlikely place. It was the troll that I needed, longed for, and just had to have to complete my collection. Twenty years of collecting was boiling down to the next few minutes.
The owner of the troll table sidled over to me and looked to be as old as the troll that I now held in my hand. "I see you're interested in old Tallulah?" she asked.
"Not really," I said. (I was getting ready to do some negotiating; I didn't want to give myself away.)
"Who you think you're kidding?" she said. "I've been waiting on someone like you for about 10 years since I decided that I was getting too dang old to collect these trolls anymore. I don't have family to pass 'em on to, and I sure as hell don't want the government to get 'em. I know how much the blasted thing is worth, so don't try to wear me down. How much you give me for it?"
"I'll tell you what, I like the looks of you, you seem like nice folks, being here with your mom and all, I'll sell Tallulah to ya'll for 1 dollar. That's my final and only offer."
As I looked over at mom and asked to borrow a dollar (I had brought only hundreds to purchase the troll) I tried to keep my composure. By this time the old lady was wrapping up my purchase and cackling to herself. I murmured a thanks and was about to walk away when suddenly I turned around and gave that woman the biggest hug I had ever given anybody. As she pulled away from the embrace she gave me one last look and said, "You take care of Tallulah for me." (Yes, ma'am)
That's the story of my participation in this year's longest yard sale. We walked around the park and sampled a few food vendors and then were ready to go. I didn't make it to Alabama; in fact, I only made it to one town. And that was fine for me. There's always next year!! (I have a collection of kazoos that I'm working on.)