In his hale and hearty days, there was nothing that would stop him on a Saturday morning from scouring all the yard sales the upper Florida Keys had to offer. Our weekly phone call would be filled with tales and tallies-- how many yard sales he hit, how many things he found, who he ran into during his adventures and what he ultimately paid for his pirate booty.
(He did not hit any sales on his archaeological tour of Easter Island, but I hear they're pretty strict about letting you take the old, unusual things home. Also, I think the moai statuary wouldn't fit in his carry-on.)
During the week, he was led to his local thrift store, where he'd come back with whatever caught his eye-- from antique engravings to Star Wars character cups from Pizza Hut and items even he admitted he bought because he had absolutely no idea what they were.
Those items were apparently the best. Because they afforded hours and hours of detective-work fun.
Sundays, then, were devoted to the Upper Keys' flea market, rows of storage units opened up for business. Dad's favorite haunts were the Fifty Cent Bins, which he would dig through with relish to find his latest electronic gadget, kitschy collectible, or hidden bauble...
It was compulsion, entertainment, and history wrapped up in one fascinating, musty package.
So I learned my love of the thrift at the second-hand deck shoes of the master.
While I never gained the patience my dad did to weed elbow-deep in boxes of questionable origin, I do think fondly on my own childhood garage saling adventures with Dad. The 50 cents a week I earned from chores, I had learned, stretched far toward dollies and clothes, art supplies and Wonder Woman comic books.
And when it came to books, Dad was usually happy to kick in an extra buck or two for me. I recall more than once walking away with a giant grocery bag full of Nancy Drews for only a few dollars. Dad was proud to say he had a reader. And I was trembling with anticipation for stories not yet read.
As regular readers know, Dad and I got to a number of weekend thrifting forays while he was up here in Pittsburgh getting cancer treatment. He would come back with this trinket or that bit of "guy stuff" as he called it, a souvenir of his day out and a conversation piece for him back at assisted living.
This weekend, I donated some of his things back from whence they came-- the thrifts. It wasn't easy exactly, but it had to be done-- and the nice thing about thrifts stores is, now the ever-spinning cycle of ownership continues on.