Trashy treasures uncoverered at rummage sale

By Sidney Aikorn

What’s better than a good garage sale? One that’s full of stuff you can actually use, unlike the usual knick-knack and outgrown toys. That’s what the Habitat for Humanity’s annual rummage sale fundraiser was like. Donations from the end of last school year made for a veritable wonderland of used goods and gadgets, with no grandmas to fight for bargains. An extra bonus: no actual haggling was necessary. You could carry off as much as you wanted, for as little as you wanted to pay to the cause. No strings attached! Except you couldn’t escape the bottomless pit of guilt sitting in the bottom of your stomach reminding you of the house that the proceeds would fund.The things at a college rummage sale fall into three categories: the useful, the sad and the bizarre. Most useful are the clothes, piled high foot after foot on top of benches, with every article of clothing-from a ski jacket to a teeny pink and purple thong to several pairs of plaid pajama pants and plaid pants in a lovely orange and brown color scheme. A wool sweater that was either left behind by a much younger sibling or else belonged to an owner who ignored the “hand wash cold” instructions was also found among the stacks. If the nip in the air is striking fear in your heart, here you could find an endless assortment of items to keep you warm, from a faded Hamline sweatshirt to a hat made of orange and sparkly yellow-green yarn with both earflaps and a pompom. How can you go wrong with that?

However, some of the clothes did fall into the sad category. There was a camp t-shirt that will forever be marked with the permanance of Sharpie signatures, not to mention a handmade scarf that was knit with the most basic stitch there is. They seemed lonely and I couldn’t help but wonder how they got there and how long they would go unclaimed.

I couldn’t help but wonder at some of the other things, too. Did the same person wh-o donated the silky polyester pants with embroidered mandarin-style cuffs also give the velour stretch pants ornamented with dragons in silver thread? And if so, how could they part with two such stunning items at once? A can of Flaarp noise putty, a snap-on fake fur collar, a polar bear bath mitt (with scrubby exfoliating side, no less) also waited to be taken home. For those who wanted to live in the past, there was a cracked turntable and a stack of VHS tapes, including “Metallica”, “Star Wars” and Disney movies. There were also props for every holiday: a grow- your-own-clover kit for Saint Patrick’s Day, a candle shaped like a Christmas tree, a pink plastic bunny cookie cutter and an unopened craft kit that entreats you to make a Halloween Headband.

On the sparsely populated book section, there was last year’s course catalog, and perhaps most inexplicable of all, one from 1978-1980.

The rummage sale was full of all the detritus that collects and piles up in dorms throughout the school year, cycling through one person’s hands to another. What isn’t claimed will be donated, but a surprising, or maybe unsurprising, amount of stuff goes with a giddy student, on to a new home and a new life. It turns out one college student’s trash really is another’s trashy treasure.