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SCHRADER: Garage sales – a passion, addiction or just plain bargain hunting?

Garage sale season in the Midwest went into full swing last month and veteran shoppers for “treasures and trivia” who circle the block at 7:30 a.m. waiting for that garage door to roll open, looking for that bargain or “Antique Roadshow” find, are out in droves.

I thought it was just an innocent hobby, something to do mornings from Thursday through Saturday, but then my wife and in-laws started to notice the growing inventory in our basement – 10 old typewriters, a hundred or so books I have never read, Polaroid cameras I can never get film for anymore, and all those framed paintings that could be a Van Gogh, but probably instead fall into the Thomas Kincaid class. Not to mention the old Saturday Evening Posts with the Norman Rockwell covers, the December National Geographics with Santa drinking a Coke on the back covers, and the decorative Avon, Rockwell, and Hummel plates that never get hung on the wall. So they have classified me as “addicted” to garage sales.

In my own defense, I called up my psychiatrist friend Dr. Thomas Kirts. He couldn’t give me an instant diagnosis but did recognize some of the symptoms I and hundreds of others must be experiencing this garage sale season.

“I have never had a patient who admitted to garage sales as a problem, so am not sure where to draw the line between a healthy hobby or obsessive compulsive disorder,” he said.

But my family already has me pegged: addicted and out of control. Wait until I score that rare painting or antique Tiffany vase – then I can brag about the big one that didn’t get away. However, I must admit I have been flea marketing and garage sale-ing since back in the 1970s at least, and have yet to score that Van Gogh or Tiffany.

Now about those bargains one can find around DeKalb County. I picked up an ancient Waterman Wolverines team banner in Hinckley for a buck, a sled that is nearly as old as I am for $5, and even found an old Hinckley Review that was published back in the days when my Genoa-Kingston High School classmate Ed Carter owned the paper. He wrote the best homespun Will Rogers-type columns called “CarterSpills” which are real keepers.

Coming back to DeKalb, I stopped by a sale that turned out to be at the home of retired college dean Harry Husa. He had a neat-looking 1976 souvenir collectible Bicentennial plate that I just about bought, but then remembered I already had a half dozen similar ones at home. So I cruised another neighborhood, running across my old Chronicle days co-worker Pat Duffy who sold me his set of relaxation CDs. Next I spotted a sale going on at Brad Pietens’ home and he let me have a 75-year-old Remington typewriter for a bargain. He then offered me a brand new never-before-used nightstand that could serve as a typing table for free, except it was missing all four legs. If I’m lucky, at a sale sometime soon, I will run across four legs without a table.

And to wrap up the weekend I visited a sale along Greenwood Acres where I met Andrew and Shelly Torok. She was a photojournalism major at Northern and even had the same photo instructor I did – Hallie Hamilton. I just had to have that set of instructional Kodak photo books, even though dated before the digital camera age. Next I spotted a document frame for a dollar that contained a third place award certificate from the 1987 DeKalb County Sesquicentennial photo competition. It even had the real signature of former DeKalb County Clerk and 150th chairman Terry Desmond, complete with the official logo of the celebration. Now if I can just find a cement nail to drive into the basement wall to hang that one up. Maybe next week I will find a jar of miscellaneous nails on a sale ...

My wife says she has a better idea for me: Look up the office number for Dr. Kirts and make an appointment!

Barry Schrader was editor of the Daily Chronicle from 1969-1972 and later worked at newspapers in San Francisco’s East Bay. He and his wife are retired and live in DeKalb. Visit his Web site, www.dekalbcountylife.com, for an archive of columns. Reach Barry at barry815@sbcglobal.net or P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115.

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