Garage Sale

thMJXEQL1JThere was no destination, just driving. Eventually I found myself in a small town on Oregon’s rocky coast. I spotted a place to eat that looked local and inviting and made a turn at an intersection to circle back.

The parallel street was covered with patches of sand swept by the wind. There was a garage sale sign at a handsome but small cottage. Tables made from planks and sawhorses were scattered in the driveway.

There was no idea in my head what I was looking for, but for some reason something attracted me to this place.

Beneath one of the makeshift tables was a box full of assorted items. It looked more like junk than the rest of the items displayed more prominently on the tables’ tops.

I struggled to remove it.

Inside was an old reel to reel tape recorder. I recognized it immediately. It was exactly like the one my parents purchased for me as a teenager. I recorded hours of music from the radio to play back at my leisure. Inside the box was a stack of reeled tapes in their boxes.

“The recorder still works,” an old man said sitting at a card table.

“How much?” I said.

“Name a price?” the old man said.

“I’ll give you $10,” I said.

“That’s nearly and antique,” the old man said.

“So that’s why it’s under the table,” I said. “This is probably the forth garage sale you’ve tried to sell it and I’m the first guy to offer you anything for it.”

“$10,” the old man said.

“That’s if it works like you said it does,” I said, smiled, and handed the old man $10.

“Plug ’er in and give it a try,” the old man said.

I lugged it to the garage and plugged it in. The “play” button was depressed. It immediately began to play Del Shannon’s Runaway.

“What did I tell ya,” the old man said.

“She plays alright,” I said and rummaged through the boxes of reels..

“You ever listen to these?” I said.

“A year or so ago,” the old man said. “Probably belonged to some kid that played with it all the time.”

I picked out reel labeled “interview” written on it. I threaded the tape and pushed play.

“Good evening everybody,” said the voice of a teen age boy. “This is you reporter Bill Garland interviewing old man Garland. Hey, old man, what’s cookin’?”

A voice of a man laughed. “Get that thing our of my face.”

“Come on, Dad,” the teenager’s voice said. “Let me interview you.”

I pushed the stop button.

“I wonder if that kid ever became a news reporter?” the old man said.

“He probably tried it, gave up, and sold hardware supplies the rest of his life,” I said.

“Well it works,” the old man said.

“Did you buy this at an auction near Rochester, New York?” I asked.

The old man looked at me strangely and grinned. “Why yes. How did you know that?”

“That’s me and my Dad on the tape,” I said. “It’s been 40 years since I heard his voice.”

“So you sold hardware supplies,” the old man said.

“Yeah,” I said.

“Well it’s a good thing,” the old man smiled. “Because you’d have starved as a reporter.”

“That’s what my Dad told me too,” I said.

The old man handed the $10 back. “I can’t sell a man’s memories back to him.”

 

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16 Comments

      1. Your welcome! I’m curious, do you have an identifying tag on your posts that say which are fiction and which are actually peeks at your own life? This one had me stumped for a bit…which is, of course, a testament to your writing skills. 🙂

      2. This is fiction. I will sometimes mention if somethings actually happen or not.
        I had an old tape recorder that mom and dad sold at an auction. It did have some boyhood things on it. I did record my dad, but I only wished I could find it.
        Thanks for asking and of course reading.
        Kenton Lewis

      3. 🙂 I did catch this one was fiction, but I had to think about it for a bit. Technically speaking, you could tag it with “Based on a True Story.” 😉

        Speaking of which, do you feel old yet? *Tape recorders… I remember thinking they were sooo high tech! 🙂

      4. Yeah, tape recorder, transistor radio, and typewriter.
        “Based on true story” always sounds manipulated for dramatic effect. I suppose that’s what I do, but just don’t like to admit it.

  1. Loved this piece. My sister found an old ‘mini’ tape recorder that featured my late father recounting some of his stories from WWII. It was priceless. Hearing his voice again after 15 years was very moving. Thank you for the memory.

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