Sunday, August 09, 2015

Remember Going to Estate Sales? or Things Ain't Like They Used to Be

When I started this blog nine years ago (geez oh pete), I was heavily into getting up early and checking out estate sales for records. I got lucky a few times so I kept it up for awhile, pushing myself to get rise up, on the off chance that there was some golden treasure waiting for me in Upper St. Clair, or Fox Chapel. Or even West Mifflin.

I've pretty much gotten out of the estate sale/record hunting racket over the past few years. I'm not saying I'm not as greedy as the next guy when it comes to this stuff, but there was one time when I got to a sale 15 minutes before it opened and overheard three guys at the head of the line offering tales from the trenches. They seemed to have more of an obsessive streak to their tone,a hardcore devotion that I wasn't ready to adopt. Plus I had the feeling that between the three of them, they'd pick over whatever I might want before I even found the room with the records. It kind of took the fun out of the hunt.

Not only that, I acquired a collection about four years ago that I'm only now pretty close to paring down to the bare essentials.

But every so often something comes up that makes me thing, yeah I have to go check it out. A couple weeks ago at work, my friend Linda introduced me to a friend who was having a moving sale that was part of a bigger, neighborhood house sale, and mentioned there were records involved. I was casually piqued. A few texts to a wrong number (reply: "Stop texting me") and some Facebook messages later, I arranged to check out the records the night before the sale. Don't hate me for that, folks. I have to work almost every Saturday so I miss out on the good stuff.

She had a small pile in the living room and said there was another box in the basement that was pretty water damaged but it might have some good new wave stuff. Fair enough. Upstairs I found Julie London's Calendar Girl, Jimmy Nelson's Instant Ventriloquism (which was sampled on a Nothing Painted Blue record, and which I had as a kid, leading to a long-standing in-joke with my siblings), a Billy May album and a handful of 45s. Nothing great, but not too shabby.

Downstairs was pay dirt, though. Yes there was dirt. Yes, there were records that made that sticky sound when you tried to peel them off one another. But those were the classical records. Within the dusty crate I found Au Pairs' Playing with a Different Sex, two James White & the Blacks albums, two Talking Heads albums, a Billie Holiday Verve compilation and a World Saxophone Quartet album which I figured I needed in spite of the musty cover.

Yesterday was Saturday and it was also the annual birthday party that my son attends for his friend Lucy and her three siblings, who all have birthdays during the summer. It takes place out on the way to the suburbs, so I always end up taking off work for it, which means my morning is free. So I decided to check out a couple estate sales in the early morning, driving 20 minutes out to Bridgeville to a place that listed records in their classified ad.

Seeing "records" in the ad usually means they're worthless, and so far that theory holds true. Several Richard Clayderman albums, Kenny Rogers, some Christmas albums and a Beatles knockoff album on Wyncote Records - the latter priced at $10. You gotta be kidding me.

There were two more sales closer to home and an additional one that I saw signs for, while driving to one. At one, the guy said he had some "old" Spanish records, which he brought out - eight 78s, wrapped in a plastic bag, with a few records sporting some chips and several looking cracked. At another, one of the guys said he had some late 70s/early 80s r&b at his home (it wasn't his house), but he could send pictures if I was interested in Earth, Wind & Fire. I politely declined.

At least I had some time to listen to a whole CD while driving around. And the suspense was kind of fun.

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