What can I say, it’s the closest thing to gambling that I can aspire to do. That’s Jane. She’s the auctioneer. She knows us. She poked fun at me. Last year we had to rent a van late on a Saturday afternoon in order to cart our purchased loom home from the fair. Yeah, it cost more to rent the van than it cost to buy the loom. And the bench that came with it was worth more than the whole lot. Ha ha, the joke was on me. You know you’ve been marked when they remember you for that stunt.
That singer sewing machine is old – 1910’s – according to the index of serial numbers. The great wheel we would win was one that I’d seen early in the day. Little did I know we’d have to make more room in the car going home. And of course, it rained (just like last year). So our purchases had to reside under the umbrella while we bid onward. You can guess (me) who was wet, “taking another one for the team.” At least I wasn’t on the ‘net looking for a van.
Actually, we know Jane’s significant other too. He’s from WV too. He has a part we dropped off with him two years ago. This is second year now in which we have cajoled him for not producing the part we need for a spinning wheel that he had promised. We know where he lives. We’re not worried he’ll run away. That’s a lot of trust considering we aren’t in his neighborhood too much these days. It doesn’t look like it we’ll see the part any time soon. ….kind of like the leaky barn on a sunny day.
Hand weaving and spinning is a lost art. Wrong! There are many enthusiasts. It’s not too common. Your average person does not weave or spin. But the gatherings – so called festivals – draw thousands – of people, sheep not included. There is fiber on the hoof and fleece and finished product. Lots of money changes hands. There was a classic auction complete with rapid fire auctioneer. His job is to rev up the crowd and grow enthusiasm and drive the price ever higher. The tapestry loom he was standing in front went for $20. Really!? The wood was worth more ( a whole lot more). But there were other things that sold for a lot more. Last spring I bought a loom – sight unseen – for a mere bagatelle. This time around I stood pat. Yes, there are llamas – and alpacas – and sheep – and goats. A good time was had by all.
While spinning wheels are on my mind I’d like to tell you another story. Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. Worldwide and from across the USA people come. The traffic line was more than a mile long. And no one cut in. My my, what a polite crowd. Big? You bet! And just to see sheep, really? Yup. I was pretty impressed. The hillside was covered with cars. They’ve done this before. And the fairgrounds were packed.
Gambling? There was an auction. People were selling. Part of the sale went to support the next fair. You name it, there were things of value and junk. Outright junk. You sort and figure is all out. A single spinning wheel, a very special one, never before on the auction block went for more than $2000. And junk was sold for $5. You had to bid. It was friendly as long as you weren’t bidding against a nut case. You also need to have an idea of price. Oh yeah! Like I know spinning wheels and the cost of looms. Good stuff. As is. Who knows. Old things and brand new in the box. So I watched. Saw that $2000 wheel go to a woman whose husband approved. My my, that’s a lot. And then I put in a bid on a flax spining wheel. I got a nod. The auctioneer was not looking my way. I had to make noise. You sort of grunt ascent and wave your hand. Don’t look like you are scratching your head. And then it comes down to two or three women who stay in and drive up the price until the determination in my eye or the price exceeds their desire. Got it. As in, I bought it. No, silly, I didn’t take a picture. I don’t shoot everything.
The last time I did an auction was back when my kids were 8 or 10 years old. Their school auctioned off a large white stuffed bear. How large? Bigger than my two kids combined. They were impressed. Me too! I got it for about $20. The very next year at the same auction I got another but smaller bear for another $20. After that never again. I’m not a gambler by nature. I think that I would be tempted and lose the family farm if I were in Las Vegas. The worst I ever did was lose $5 in Atlantic City. (We had to pay for parking to enter the casino.)
I was in Puerto Rico at a spine meeting and the hotel had a casino. An orthopedic friend of mine handed his girlfriend $20 and told her to have fun. She went to the roulette table and damn if she didn’t parlay that money into $5000. Wow. She bet corners and lines and …. She hit the number a few times. Double wow! So years later during a family vacation at the Tyler Place in Vermont, lo and behold – Casino Night! $5 got you a Styrofoam cup of chips. Using my knowledge of roulette, I lost that cup of chips in less than 30 seconds. I walked away much the wiser. Nope. I don’t gamble.