“It really was a happy ending.”

April 3, 2010

We were making our way to Robinson via the road less traveled. This route takes you through Nevillewood; one of the first golf/private communities that I ever remember seeing here in the north. A lot of Pittsburgh Penguins have and still reside here with the cheap houses close to 400 large.

We see a sign for an Estate Sale and so we turned around and parked. I was convinced that this was someone just having a yard sale and that the real estate sale was around the corner – I mean the stuff in the driveway looked like straight up junk.

The garage was full of shit, no different than the crap that is typical to a Pennsyltucky affair – mismatched glassware, picture frames, cheap bedroom furniture and costume jewelry. We did find a cool Pyrex coffee carafe and matching glasses for three bucks in this mess. As we walked into the barroom basement, which as much smaller than I expected it to be, Gretchen said that “these always make her sad,” because of the circumstance that surrounds such a sale; death and/or debt. Something that I found unusual was that there were several portraits of, what I thought at the time, were the owner’s grand kids as well as several pieces of Judaica specifically for a Hollee Jo Schwartz. G, who is a veteran of these sales, also said that she found it odd. I’m not talking one or two items here – in this first room, there were at least 10, high quality portraits, several caricatures as well as several personalized religious items that I’m betting have to do with Bat Mitzvahs and the like.

They were even selling the half empty bottles of liquor for four bucks a bottle.
We made our way upstairs and the first thing that I noticed was how tacky the place was. Awful colors and Bad (yes a capital B) wallpaper and trim. Making our way into the kitchen, I was shocked, not just by the cheapness of the cutlery and cookware but also because they were even selling the food in the pantry. And I’m not talking canned goods, but opened boxes of raisins, spices and cake mixes were priced for sale.

The living room was also drenched in tack and horrible furniture with terrible patterns. Were my expectations too high? This is supposed to be an exclusive neighborhood and so I would expect All-Clad, Henckel cutlery; maybe Stickley, Audi & Co furniture; and not the sale of half used food.

There were other tacky gems throughout the first floor – like ‘gem’ encrusted hats and clothes, old ass soap that had experienced changes in humidity causing it to leak through the package and a bunch of half used crafting supplies. I was surprised that I didn’t see gold lamé Channel C logo shirts from the flea market. He also left his golf trophies behind. The second floor held more treasures on the disturbing tip, like the individual girls rooms full of items from their youths; more portraits, yearbooks and dolls and their little outfits from when they were babies. It started to seem as though the portraits in the basement were actually of the homeowners daughters. Selling portraits of your kids? What the fuck is up with that. G asked, “…who would buy pictures of someone else’s kids?” My first thought was, “you could decorate a room with them.” Like the bathroom in our basement if the price would have been right.

Making our way to the second floor bar area, I finally got a name to put with the house, Dr. Joel Schwartz.

As we made our way to the money table with the purchases, the man in front of us mentioned that he noticed the same thing I did upstairs to put a name with the stuff, Dr. Schwartz’s pen holder from his desk. See, that was for sale too. And Dr. Schwartz was his ear doctor and so now, a little bit of the Schwartz was with him. The woman running the sale related how this wasn’t your typical estate sale; that the fine doctor retired and left for Florida with a suitcase of clothes and was selling everything. That it was ‘a happy ending.’

“He didn’t take anything with him?”

“Just what fit in his car.”

But he was trying to sell his kid’s history, his historyI know a picture is nothing more than an image, but it is his family’s personal images and history; it’s his kid for Chrissake! I’m sure the caricatures were drawn during a trip to a fun and memorable family outing; the personalized religious memorabilia – how can you just let some greasy auction motherfuckers come in and put a price on that? And how about the scumbag that buys it looking to make a profit? These are the things that your kids are supposed to find when you die; so that they are reminded of the good times; of their kids and their own mortality. Maybe there was a rift, but the right thing is not to scatter these items to the world. These are little pieces of you, Dr. Schwartz. Moments of your life, captured. And every time you look at them they are like a time machine that transports back to a moment which becomes a series of moments that make memories. Maybe he should have burnt them like other items that hold an implicit reverence; love letters, prayers and flags. But it is to late now. They will no doubt end up in some heap to live on, meaningless to all who encounter them or worse yet, tossed into the trash to rot in a dump.
Was this really the ‘happy ending” that the sales woman said it was?

No way.

One Response to ““It really was a happy ending.””

  1. darksider Says:

    It is a shame people give up their history so easliy. My mother in law passed away in December of last year. Her two sons had been planning on selling everything off including a items which meant something to my kids who also inherited a large portion of the trust.

    I had to hire an atorney to put a stop to it last week. Now We get to take a road trip to marin to see how much damage can be undone.

    My wife used to haunt antique shops ( my house is full of them including me ). In them you would always find old photos that were left behind or sold off. She would buy them and say, these are the lives of people. She was right. The Doctor needs to get his life back on track. This was not a Happy ending, it was a tragedy.

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