Saturday, July 14, 2007


I stopped by an estate sale in my town the other day. It was a very old house, kind of run down, the yard not very well tended. I'd driven by it a hundred times.

I wandered in, and looked around. It was the last day of the sale, and there wasn't much left...the usual beat up pots and pans, the old clothing that no one ever buys. I go to a lot of estate sales, and sometimes I wonder about the people who lived there; their lives, who they were, what they did. I've found that you can learn a lot about a person from the contents of their homes. What type of books they read, whether they traveled, sometimes what their profession was.

It's kind of sad sometimes, to think of the treasures and memories of an entire life, being sold to strangers for a few dollars, because no one else wants it.

I looked around this place, saw in the basement that this man had been a fisherman. Lots of rods and equipment for tying flies and making lures. He liked to work with wood, he camped a lot.

Then in the bedroom I saw two uniforms hanging in an empty closet; A Boy Scout leaders shirt, old, faded, well-worn. And a Word War II Army uniform - with medical insignia.
I asked the people running the sale if they knew anything about him. A middle-aged woman said "He was my uncle and he was in the War. I think he stayed in the US, but I'm not sure."

That's all she knew about what was probably the most memorable experience of this man's life. Since his niece was running the sale, it seems that he didn't have any children of his own. That means he was a Scout leader not because of parental obligation, but just because he wanted to make a difference. He was a medic in the War too; that's twice that he made a difference.

I offerered to take the uniforms, just because I hated the idea of them ending up in the trash. She gave them to me for a buck.
On the way out, I went back in and asked what his name was. "Phil".

Here's to you, brother. Welcome home.



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