July 1, 2012

Mish-Adventure: Neosho Valley School Auction

It seems I've been taking the time to go on some fun adventures lately so I thought I might as well share them here on the blog. Many of you love my junkin' stories so I thought I'd share a night at an auction with you. I scan my local papers for auctions and came across this one that sounded intriguing. It was at an old school house which immediately brought to mind visions of old desks, books, school items, etc. Sure enough the bill of sale listed some great items. If you've never been to an auction and want to attend one, just look in your local paper and scan the listings for items you like. Mark it on your calendar and go! This particular auction was an hour away, at 7pm and was on a basketball night. I asked my folks to go (cuz I knew I might need a pickup + I thought they might have fun) and away we went.

I thought it might be a good night for me to score some cool finds because 1) the auction was kinda far away 2) it was at 7pm on a week night and 3) I figured most people would not be looking for some of the items I might like. Which means old, dusty junk. We followed the directions and arrived at the Neosho Valley School House just South of Burlington, Kansas. A cute little school house out in the middle of the prairie. Instantly reminded me of Little House on the Prairie, long dresses, and Laura Ingalls & her "friend" Nellie Olson.
The old school house was dated 1926 and I always ask the history of places. It was fun to learn about this school.
First thing you do is to arrive at an auction 30 minutes to 1 hour early. You need to case the joint, scope things out. Write down the items you might want to bid on. Check out the people who will become the Nellie Olson "friends" for the next 2 hours of your life, i.e. the people you will be bidding against for your new, beloved items.

It was all that I hoped for. This one room school house was just so adorable I had a hard time not drifting back in time. But I got a grip and took it all in. There were tables filled to the brim with books and old items. The old wooden tables themselves were something I had my eye on. In the background you can see two old wooden chairs and an old pine cabinet. Hmmm, very interesting Nellie.
Here were the prizes I was eyeing. This old globe....HELLO lovely! And five old maps. Yes! My dad and I unrolled each map to see what they were. There was an old US map, just what I wanted.
The old school books. This place was like walking back in time. Every little thing that was used for this school was in tact. I could seriously teach my kids here, make them wear long braids and slap their knuckles with wooden rulers. We could eat our lunch from metal pails and have a jolly old time.
And the floors. Old pine floors with dents and knots and all scritchy scratchy. I wanted to take them home with me.
And this chalkboard. I wondered if it was for sale. I inquired to the auctioneer and alas it was not for sale. But I became good friends with the auctioneer. We used names instead of ticket numbers because it was such a small auction. By the end of the night he knew me by name and was singing "Michelle my bell, my ding dong bell" to me. Hee.

Now about those Nellie Olsons. They are the nice enough people that show up at the auction to take your good stuff. Perfectly fine folks but for the next two hours they are the enemy. They want your maps and globes, people. They want to outbid and outlast you. Now take a sec and look at the elderly folks in the photo below. I wasn't worried about them. I knew that most of them were probably not serious bidders. There were some that may have attended school here and might want a piece of their childhood....but I could tell most of them were here to get the latest gossip and to socialize and see what sold and who bought it. It ended up my hunch was right.

But there was a Nellie Olson at this auction. A cute little blond, about 25 years old who showed up with her Daddy, Mr. Olson. She was going to be the brat of this auction, I could tell. And my hunch was right. I didn't get photographs but there were about 5 church pews at this auction. And Nellie wanted one. And I wanted one. Bad. She ended up glaring at her poor Daddy so much that he paid $450 for a 5' pew. Damn her. I got nothin'. I looked at my Ma and Pa and felt like pitiful Laura Ingalls who just got her lunch stolen by Nellie's mean brother, Willie.
And then there were the items in the basement. It was kind of a dangerous trek down some broken, stone steps and it was musty and stinky. But there were these beauties. About 10 shaker style benches. I wanted one but I had my eyes on some old tables back upstairs more. So I sat back to see how it would unfold. If you've been to an auction then you know that items in multiples like these benches sometimes will sell as what they call "choice". That means that the starting high bidder has the option of taking 1 bench, 2 benches or ALL of the benches. So you better watch it if you want one. Never assume that the high bidder won't take them all.

And that's what happened. In walked the guy in the purple shirt with curly brown hair. He looked a lot like Willie Olson so I'll just call him that. I knew Willie from other auctions. He was a junk dealer of some kind. That means they will buy lots of junk and at higher prices. I hate when they show up at auctions. I knew Willie was after the benches, I could see it on his face.

So the bidding starts and I let a few bids go in, then I put in a bid. At very good prices. Then ol' Willie jumps in and ups the bids. Only up to $15 which I totally would have paid for one bench. But I wanted to see if he was going to take all 10. Surely he wouldn't take ALL ten. I had secretly written an "x" in the dust on the benches that were in good shape. Willie won the bid and took all the good benches. What was left of the benches were wobbly and had damaged legs. No thanks, Willie, you little brat.
BUT. I didn't go home empty handed. I worked my auction magic and came home with some great items that were on my list. And my dad even won a few old pine stands that I think he'll have my mom put plants on.

All in all it was a great two hours at the auction. It was like going to a movie and watching the plot unfold. Better than any movie theatre or shopping mall. I got to spend time with my folks. I got to meet new folks. I was serenaded by the auctioneer. I got ticked at Nellie and Willie. I learned the history of an old school. I met the Granger folks who held their meetings here and I learned their amazing history. They asked me to take photos of their group for the last time in the old school. I happily obliged. We got ice cream at Sonic on the way home. We unloaded my junkin' goodies. It was a grand time. A great Mish-Adventure, indeed. :)

Ohhh. What did I get, you ask? I'll share a new post soon showing you what I scored. You didn't think I came home empty handed now did you. Never.


Joan B said...

what a great story!!

Tami McBeain said...

Haha, fabulous story, sounds like a great way to spend the evening! Can't wait to see what you scored!

Sheryl Berglund said...

LOVED reading your story! I always watched Little House growing up.....can't wait to see what you brought home!

lisa westphal said...

You really need to write a book!...'The Adventures of Mish'...I can just see it on stands now!! :) I just wanted to hear more and more!! ...And to end with a cliffhanger!! You sneakster!! -lol!!! Soooo dying to see what you scored :) :) :)

Meghan said...

I can see the book now, 'Mish's Auction Adventures!' Thanks for sharing this amazing story. I felt like I was there!

KAREN said...

Thoroughly enjoyed reading your story about the auction. It was very entertaining. Cannot believe that you did not tell us what you got... Looking forward to reading your next post! Hope you got some really good stuff. Go ahead, make us jealous!

Shirley said...

Fun! I liked your account of the auction. I'd be super interested in a historic schoolhouse too!

Eveline said...

I wouldn't mind going to auctions with you. Sounds like a lot of fun.
I'm looking forward to pictures of the treasures you bought.

WinterBerry Glen said...

Loved reading your story and you even threw in a cliff hanger! Ha! Can't wait to see what you picked up. :)

Linda said...

hahaha I loved your post today. So entertaining. Can't wait to see what you came home with.

maryrose said...

Hysterical! Sounds like you're having a fun summer! Can't wait to see what goodies you snagged away from Nellie and Willie!

cjgusloff57 said...

Loved your auction story! It brought back many memories of my "auction days". My husband and I have gone to a lot of auctions in our day, lost out on items and bought items too. We still live with a lot of them...antiques, I mean. I laughed when I read your story as everything you wrote is so true! It sure sounded like fun
though. Thanks for the memories and am looking forward to seeing and hearing about" what you bought at the auction."

Blossom inch said...

Hello! Michelle, how are you?
I love to buy vintage items...totally unique and rare find and good as a home deco.

Love your post, love your PL and I am still catching up.

See you again.

yuzz yusof

Anne said...

Great story. Can't wait to see what you got. Growing up my four sisters and I always watched Little House on the Prairie every Sunday evening before tea time. We used to have a competition to see who would n't cry! Your photos brought it all back. TFS.

Jill Norwood said...

Mish you have such a way with words! Now I can't wait to see what you got! I was mad at Nellie and Willie for you! Hope you did get some nice treasures!

Dell said...

What a great read! Loved the whole adventure.

Robin said...

You were in my old neck of the woods - I grew up right down the road in little itty bitty Gridley. So funny to read your story and so glad you got some good stuff.

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