Cash Only

The woman smiled up from the table, her mouth a wonder of dentistry. “Welcome,” she said. “Remember, cash only.”

The house was modest, yet overfull. Every item bore a small yellow tag with its price. I stood in the living room in front of an empty china cabinet, its contents arrayed on the table behind me. I picked up a plate bordered with green and decorated with a Christmas tree.

A group of old ladies shouldered in. I set the plate down. A lady picked it up and flipped it over. “Spode,” she said to her friend. The friend came over to look.

I went down a flight of wooden stairs into a basement workshop. Shelves lined the walls, each stacked with tools of every description. A box on the floor contained calendars. I picked one up from 1956. Each month was adorned with a leggy girl.

Everything was for sale.


What Pegman Saw: Rapid City, SD


Add Yours
  1. Dale

    There is a restaurant in Montreal, in the antiques section of Notre Dame Street, like that. Even the plate you eat on is for sale. It is the weirdest thing, ever.

  2. 4963andypop

    The ladies and their find was so vivid, the tool wall so poignant, and the girly magazines so human. Nice innuendo that selling a dead person’s belongings, no matter how practical, is pretty darn profane.

  3. bearmkwa

    I would probably be considered one of those old ladies, looking at everything, turning it over, mentally assessing it’s monetary value… then, you’d probably find me digging through any old books, admiring copyrights… and, much to my husband’s chagrin, buying a few. And yes, I do read them when I buy them. Love old antique stores, estate sales… estate sales are really interesting as you get a glimpse into the “private” side of their lives…sometimes quite shocking… Like finding old playboys at the Pastor’s estate sale.. Now, that, was an experience.

  4. Alicia Jamtaas

    Being an ex-bookkeeper at a dental office, your sentence about a wonder of dentistry hit me two ways: too many porcelain crowns to make her teeth perfect or too many missing teeth. You captured the sale of my mother-in-laws collection of interesting things right down to my father-in-laws car calendars. No leggy blondes or brunettes.

  5. Lynn Love

    I remember my Dad’s house being taken over by solicitors, the contents being valued and sold off. Most of what he and his wife held dear was deemed junk and sold off in a cheap lot. All those decades accumulating what other people see as rubbish. You captured the feel of the sale so clearly – from perfect teeth to girly mags. Wonderful

  6. k rawson

    I like what is unsaid in this piece (namely the death and the fact that everything left behind is for sale) as well as what is said. The line about the wonder of modern dentistry is great! Really paints a picture.

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