Q. What is the strangest garage sale experience you have ever had?
answered by Cynthia Coleman, Retired Reporter, Photojournalist, Historian
One Saturday morning, two men in a truck pulled up into our driveway, got out, and knocked on our door.
The year was 1971.
My father answered the door.
One of the men said, “We’re here to pick up the bed.”
“What bed?” my father asked.
They didn’t know what bed. They were given an address and so, here they were.
“Where’s the bed?” they asked, rather insistent about their orders.
We had had a yard sale several weeks before, but no beds were offered for sale. My father thought perhaps there was a neighbor who had a bed that needed refurbishing or broken down needing removal.
The men puzzled my father but he could make no sense of what they asked. He told them to try at the Vann house across the street.
Dr. and Mrs. Vann had six children. Maybe they had extra beds with one that needed to be picked up. My father was sure there were some broken beds in that house with four boys and two girls.
The men left.
My father didn’t give it a second thought.
Until several weeks had passed by. Dad saw Dr. Vann in the grocery store.
“Hey! Dutch! Did those guys come get your bed?”
In the middle of the grocery store, Dr. Vann began to curse my father. Loudly. The cussing didn’t bother my father. He didn’t understand why Dr. Vann was so angry at him.
“It was you! You!” yelled Dr. Vann.
Turns out Dr. Vann answered the door that Saturday morning when the two men in a truck knocked at the back door saying they were there to pick up a bed. Dr. Vann’s wife wasn’t home and neither were any of the older children who might have known which bed was meant. Dr. Van thought and thought about which bed they could possibly mean. Then he remembered his wife had an old bed in the basement. He led the men down there and showed them the bed and how to take it out using the basement door, rather than go back through the house. He watched the men load the bed and drive away.
When Mrs. Vann returned, Dr. Vann told his wife that men had come for the bed and he gave them the one in the basement.
Mrs. Vann ran down into the basement and to her horror it was true! Her husband had given away an authentic antique French Rococo hand-carved bed handed down to her from her late mother. The bed was in storage until Mrs. Vann found the appropriate mattress.
“What was the name of the dealer on the side of the truck?” she begged.
There was either no name or Dr. Vann had gone blank. Mrs. Vann called all the furniture restorers in the area, but to no avail.
The men in the truck were never seen again.
Luckily, we moved the following month. I don’t think Dr. Vann ever forgave my father.
I don’t think Mrs. Vann ever forgave Dutch.