The Old Guard and New Blood at the Meadowbrook Garage Sale

The Old Guard and New Blood at the Meadowbrook Garage Sale

Angela from Stanley, NY 5/21/16

After Buy orbs at the Sotheby’s in Brighton and Buy complete set of Howard the Duck (1977) at the Meadowbrook Garage Sale, our wishes for the sale were granted by the sun gods on a sparkling weekend on Avalon Drive.

Reliable Ralph with his baseball. Being first meant he had the pick of the litter. [Reader Sid Rosenzweig reports that “Reliable” is Ralph Black from the SUNY Brockport English Department. RR runs the Brockport Writer’s Forum. Margaret Atwood is coming next fall.] 

Almost everything sold. And Howard may find an appropriate pond. What Dean had leftover, he kindly donated to the Brighton Memorial Library, Good Will, and his Barbie Playhouse to RCSD teachers at School # 2 and # 6.

Her 5th birthday. (Barbie Doll House donated by Dean to the RCSD)

Like the first day of school, an annual neighborhood sale is the chance to see old friends and make new ones, even if just for a few minutes of yard sale conversation about childhood toys or life in Canada.

Every year, Ralph seems to be the first customer, ritualistically buying his one baseball. Ralph mentioned the baseball was for his dog. Perhaps a 25 cent tennis ball would work better for fetching, but a ritual is a ritual.

Will, an admirable young man

Soon the neighborhood boys came by for sports equipment and baseball cards. Will Kelly was the first customer, buying four lacrosse balls. It was early in the sale, and not having a solid feel for the lacrosse ball market, I offered 4 for a dollar. Will, pausing for a second, said that seemed like a really low price.

Will was right. The street value of a lacrosse ball is $1.  We agreed to 4 for 2 dollars. Perhaps I should have stayed with the original offer, but I very much appreciated Andrew’s reverse bargaining. At its core, a neighborhood garage sale — and the pricing and bartering — is about building community. Had the price been 25 cents a piece, I might later have felt a tinge of seller’s remorse; while Will might have felt a lingering sense of having taken advantage. But upon our gentleman’s agreement, we both sensed all was fair and square.


(l-r) Steven Korn, Lucas Mark, and Josh Paine 5/21/16

The same 4 or 5 boys were there. Lucas, whose Dad had gotten him a Fleer Ken Griffey Jr. rookie card two years earlier, looked three inches taller.

One yard sale pleasure is bringing out treasures not necessarily for sale. Alas, Lucas had heard about and seen at least once before the glove signed by Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Frank Robinson at the 1989 O’s-Red Wings exhibition game and once displayed in the Rundel Library. But others liked the story  — if not coveting the glove for sale only for a king’s ransom — as well as the battered DiMaggio glove. Alas, not Joe or even his All Star brother Dom, but the third — and third rate — brother Vince, whose battered glove could be sold at a neighborhood garage sale.FRANK HOWARD

boys and cards

Building a baseball card fan base early in life.

Also heartening to see the boys pouring over older baseball cards. Lifelong customers in the making!  Actually, a couple of years ago at the sale Brighton Schools Superintendent Kevin McGowan bought several thousand non-star cards for his kids (and maybe himself), half bemoaning that the cards  remain boxed somewhere in the basement.

One boy bought a neat Frank Howard card from the 1970 Milton Bradley baseball board game. Alas, mine was no where near GEM MT 10. So another fair price at $5.

This woman, at the U of R, is new to Meadowbrook. From now on, she can mark her life with trips to the Get Some Balls stand.

I also learned that Canadians and Canadian-transplants enjoy a more leisurely yard sale pace. Chris Faulkner visiting from Ottawa stayed for a bit. I asked him what a sports equipment sale in Ottawa would look like. At first, Chris ventured about the same, but then noted a few differences. First, lots and lots more hockey stuff, street and ice.

John from Buffalo gives thumbs up at the Get Some Balls stand.

Also, apparently, Canadians have different sized balls than Americans. In Ottawa, you might find a Canadian Football League ball that has different dimensions from its NFL counterpart. And Canadian college women — unlike in the US — use the same sized ball as the men. Looking dismissively at my five Yankee caps, in Ottawa it would be Blue Jays gear.

I was surprised Chris said in Ottawa you wouldn’t see lacrosse balls.  Later, Doug Collier, a Montreal transplant, was shocked at Chris’ claim. Doug thought Chris was out of his mind and would say so to his face. Unless Chris was bigger, then he’d be right. As Doug left Canada in 1987, his credibility is perhaps limited. And Chris did look a little bigger than Doug.

from Columbuis, Ohio

Kate, from Columbus, OH, should have enough balls to last until next year’s sale.


When will America drink Canada Dry? The Sampers (l-r) Robin, Cecillia (age 11), Nick, and Lucia (age 8) at the No Crates sale

Kate also came from relatively far away, Columbus, Ohio, as she and her friend were going to a Writer’s Conference at St. John Fisher College. Whether Kate had seen our promo pieces in Ohio, I did not ask. But Kate did buy 75 softballs and 76 baseballs. Families in her neighborhood are organizing sandlot games, which is pretty cool. John from Buffalo bought 40 baseball for batting practice with his son, which is pretty cool.

Steve would have voted Howard for President in 1976. see “Howard the Duck is not for the Birds! Buy complete set on Howard the Duck (1977)”

Every year, someone wants to buy the vintage Canada Dry crate housing balls. Robin Samper wanted to use it along with an old Coca-Cola crate as a lamp base.  The Sampers accepted that I was not trying the old bait-and-crate-switch.

In Steve, I met a bonifide in-the-flesh Howard the Duck fan. While too young to remember Howard from the 1970s, Steve has read every issue on line. I asked about the discussion as to whether Howard can be considered a metaphor for Jewishness. Steve knew of the argument and felt the idea had merit. Mentioning the claim that one of Howards’ nemesis, Dr. Bong, was covertly gay (if so one of the first in comic book history), Steve didn’t think the hypothesis valid as Dr. Bong was hopelessly infatuated with Howard’s on and off again human girlfriend. Steve didn’t buy the set, but texted a friend in Canandaigua who might. Steve also know another huge Howard the Duck who might be interested, local actor Phil Frye.


Also there was Nina Swart coming from Irondequoit with her grandmother. Apparently, Nina’s grandmother has a passion for yards sale; actually Nina said I could use the word, fanatic. And would Nina become like her grandmother? Nina says time will tell. Noticing a striking family resemblance in the two, Nina might be a good customer for the next 50 years.

Also at the sale were Mennonite families from Stanley, NY.  In Howard the Duck is not for the Birds!, I wrote:

A group of Mennonites once bought a bag full for a baseball team they were forming. Turns out the church elders approved of baseball as a wholesome, if not godly, pastime

They were back again. Angela (featured pic) bought several baseballs for her team. Angela’s accompanying elder briefly looked at the footballs. But she said the church does not approve of football games. Perhaps football is too warlike and less peaceable than baseball as a pastime. On a sparkling May day at a neighborhood yard sale, I can accept that.

Tonight I will take the last pleasure of the sale. As I often can not make the less well attended Sunday sale, we leave some balls on the curbside lawn with low prices and a box for payment. Every year when I open the box, the missing balls exactly match the bills and coins in the box. And I expect the same this year.


Another good year for the Get Some Balls stand. 5/21/16 [Photo: Dean]


Iconic America at the Brighton Little League Parade

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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