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by Elli Williams 3 days ago in culture

An Estate Sale

The store sat at the corner of 8th. It had transitioned between stores until finally ending up where it was. At one point it was a butcher, an eye glass store, and a corner market. Now it was a consignment store. A little paradise in a city of cookie cutter houses and chain food restaurants. The store was different and it was busy. I worked at the store working through college. I knew who was a serious buyer and who was a browser, I knew the people who would bring in 1980s crap and call it “vintage” and the pickers who would bring in something beautiful. Like lemonade pink glass Fostoria pitchers, Victorian teacups and saucers, or mid-century walnut furniture. Yes, it was a lot of work to filter the important from the junk, and sometimes clients felt that I wielded my power-axe of “no” too often. Maybe. But, no one could accuse me of taking something that you could find at the next antique store. I took beautiful. I selected it. I handpicked it. And I was good.

Lynn, an old time consignor brought in an old cardboard box full to the brim of brown tinged curios.

“Here you go, Mae. Go through it when you have time” He glanced back at the line of people nervously holding their boxes.

I nodded, thankful. It was a busy consigning day. I glanced inside the box.

“Looks good?” I asked scooting the box across the floor with my foot.

“Eh, you go through it. Got it from an old estate sale over in Rose Park.”

Rose Park. It was a suburb of Salt Lake. Now, it was a mix of drug-attic ghetto, old people, and rich Californians in gentrified homes. It was built in the 40s. I like the 40s. I shrug.

“Sounds good. I‘ll write down what we take and you check the prices tomorrow.

I handed the paper to Lynn who waved it over his head in a farewell as he walked out.

That night, once I’ve herded the customers to the checkout, and brought in the last display board from the front lawn I got to work sorting through the box Lynn had brought.

At first, I wasn’t impressed. Rooster and wheat motif recipe boxes from the late 1970s. Pass. Oak Bread box from the early 80s. Nope. It went like this until suddenly, Out of the box came a set of hobnail milk glass, white, cake pedestals. “Beautiful”. Under that an antique train light. “ Hmmhmmm, that’ll do.” I say writing them down.

I kept filtering through the hodge podge of items. In the very bottom fell a tiny, yellowed, journal. On the front in gilded letters, read, “Thoughts.”

I flipped open the journal to the first page.

Rose Park, Utah, 1943

June 24

Mama told me to write to clear my mind instead of talkin’ about you. I miss you. The words sound cliché, but they’re the deepest I can find. I told Aunt Ginger that the thing about having your man gone during the war is not only do you live in constant uncertainty about the future, but you have to do it so alone. Not that I’m alone, I have mama, and Ginger and Baby Kate, but when your man’s gone you lose the small talk, the pillow talk. I have people I can tell the important news to, but the unimportant minutia, the pillow talk, the fact I lost 70 cents between here and the store, or twisted my arm lifting the food barrel. The little complaints you can only tell a lover. I miss telling you those things.

October 7

I laughed. This girl writes a journal like me. I glanced out the window. The sun was still up, people were still out walking past the store. I decided to keep reading.

Sunday the Bishop announced 2 men in our church who were killed in action on the front. Both of them were young, maybe 19 or 20. I didn’t know them. I saw their mamas though. Crying under their black veils. I try not to look. But I can’t stop looking at grief. The Bishop spoke of the Reunion these boys had with their Lord. I liked to dwell more on that. I decided that when my time comes. I’ll meet my maker in a beautiful mountain. I expect heaven has mountains. A mountain with a river. And we’ll walk and talk over my life, just the two of us. Before I meet everyone again. I hope those boys have a chance to do that.

I hope You don’t have that chance for a long time. Not ‘til we’re old. Real old.

December 24

I’m not feeling very festive this year. So mama told me to do something nice for someone else. I decided to make a cake. Ginger and I Combined ration tickets for the sugar. These ration cards. They feel like a noose that’s about to tighten. Anyway, we made a chocolate cake. Ginger wanted to do a little tiny cake with two levels. I said that looks silly seeing as we don’t have enough sugar for frosting. We decided on a chocolate bundt cake. By the end of the day it looked pretty nice. A swirled cake stuffed with candied cherries in the middle of it and around it. We got some holly off the tree and garnished the cake with it. It looked like Christmas. There was enough for twelve slices. The Relief Society loved it. Mama was right. I’m feeling a little better.

That was it. Three entries in the entire journal.

“Hm, I thought.” I looked through the small journal looking for a name, or an address. I wanted to Google the name, just to see if I could find out more about the writer or the man she seemed to be writing about. Nothing.

I set the journal aside. I looked down into the large box again. And found three perfectly shined bundt cake molds. One was the shape of a rectangle with a Victorian revival motif on the top, one was a copper circle. With cherry molds gracing the top. The last was a round mold, with swirls on the top.

I smiled.

Elli Williams
Read next: My Adventure in Greece Part II
Elli Williams
See all posts by Elli Williams

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