Today we are going to Muse about the holiday stuff. If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.
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Christmas will soon be here. We are excited. My sister and my niece are coming down from New Jersey. They will be here tomorrow.
So, we have been busy putting out Christmas decorations.
The Tree Santa
The Stocking and Angels
Last night I was sitting in the dark with a high ball, listening to Andrea Bocelli, enjoying the peace before the storm.
Teddy was keeping me company.
I was pretty happy with the scene.
Earlier in the day I had been to my barber, Bill, getting cleaned up. He was talking about some original paintings he bought for very little money at a thrift shop. He thinks they may be worth a lot. Hmmm!
Our conversation brought back memories and I thought I would share them with you today.
unclaimed storage auctions
Years ago when I lived in Long Beach, California my wife (now deceased) and I would go to unclaimed storage auctions. They were held in the Los Angeles harbor.
Folding chairs would be set up on the tarmac and containers of storage stuff for which the payment was delinquent would be auctioned off. The containers were large boxes about the size of a van. In them were items that were identifiable, like lamps, chairs, bikes, etc and items that were not identifiable such as sealed boxes.
The boxes were the fun things. It was like a grab bag. You didn’t know what you were getting and they normally sold for around $10.
Three auctions stand out in my memory.
In one, I was caught up in the frenzy of bidding and my wife called out, “Don’t bid on that. There is dirt coming out”. Too late. I got the box. When I got it home and opened it up, what do you suppose I found?
Dirt and gravel. Can you imagine! Someone storing a box of dirt and gravel?! I suppose it was a corporate move and the owner said to the packers something like, “Pack up everything in the garage” and, since they were paid by weight and number of items, they did just that.
A second auction I remember involved a studio. The auctioneer started by saying “This is a large lot. The contents of a three bedroom house can usually be stored in two of these containers. This lot is stored in eight containers”.
The first container was opened and I saw boxes and boxes, the size of three-foot cubes, stacked to the ceiling. Many were marked “Studio”. And there was an easel.
I thought to myself, “This is an artist’s studio. Wow!”
And I got bidding. When I was done I had ten of these boxes, the most I could fit in my van, contents unknown. It turned out they were not from an artist’s studio. They were the contents of a movie director’s studio. They were from the studio of Lyle Wheeler. He received five Academy Awards — for Gone with the Wind (1939), Anna and the King of Siam (1946), The Robe (1953), The King and I (1956) and The Diary of Anne Frank (1959).
The boxes were full of reference materials: pictures of costumes, clouds, pin-up girls, buildings, furniture, etc. It gave me an insight into his process. There were also books, mostly photos for reference.
Two items I have kept all these years. One is a book: God’s Man.
It tells the story of a man who sells his soul to the devil. There are no words in the novel. It is told entirely by woodcuts, such as this.
A second item I have is titled White Feather, continuity sketches.
This is a book of sketches showing the camera shot for each scene in the movie. By reading through the book you can see the entire movie scene by scene.
The third auction I remember was a real treasure hunt. The auctioneer said, “This is an unusual lot. It went into storage in 1942 (this was in the mid 80’s) and it went delinquent nine month ago” . The storage held Persian rugs, a grandmother clock, paintings and things packed in barrels. No one packs in barrels any more.
All I can guess is that someone died in 1942 and the good things he or she possessed were put into storage by their children. They paid the storage fee over the years and eventually died themselves. Whom ever came next in line either had no interest in a forty-year old storage, or no money to pay for it and it went delinquent. It was a fascinating time capsel of nice things.
So what has this to do with Christmas? It is about stuff. We all get stuff. It all goes somewhere, sometime.
more to come
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