albuquerque, New mexico

October 24 – 25, 2014

Friday, saturday

Distinctions blur between an advertised “Estate Sale”, “Estate Auction”, and “Garage Sale” (“Tag Sale”, for those from the east).  It’s often more about form, than stuff.

the estate auction

We’ve all seen the ads for Estate Auctions that offer Picassos, jewelry, guns, cars, European furniture, cut crystal, art, pianos, oriental rugs, lead glass lamps, signed sports memorabilia, billiard tables, and mid-century modern collectible pieces –  maybe even a Van Gogh or two.  These “auctions” are usually held in a vacant 5,000 square foot house (“mansion”), that it just so happens is also for sale.

Of course these “sales” have nothing to do with the possessions of the owners who dwell (dwelled) there.  All the stuff is trucked in, the cars are trucked in, everything is carefully setup and staged.  The event is like Hollywood viral.  It appeals to Hollywood tastes and Hollywood values and the Hollywood illusion that you can get it all if you just have enough money.  One of these “auctions” is one too many – they are not, “the real deal.”

the garage sale

The typical Garage Sale is a typical affair.  Worn clothes, worn tools, worn or worn out goods that were bought as mistakes to begin with mark the typical wares and discards of the national penchant of consumerism.  Only economic need keeps most garage sale stuff from being donated to a thrift store; that, and the thrift of recycling or repurposing stuff from someone that doesn’t need it to someone that does, with the thrill of, “money changing hands” as the process.  Been there, done that.  Who hasn’t?

the estate sale

The Estate Sale is supposed to be different.  The theory is someone actually died and left an estate, not just real estate.  The reality is that (like estate auctions) much of the stuff is trucked in, it is the flotsam and jetsam and detritus of earlier estate sales where less than everything was sold, and the company selling the stuff is not inclined to give anything away, ever.

Peggy

Peggy Cavett-Walden was just “Peggy” to her friends.  She lived in the Huning Castle neighborhood.  She lived in her house at 1605 Park Avenue, a two-story house on a double lot.  She was from Austin originally, she was an architect.  She was also an artist, a teacher, a writer, a researcher, a story-teller, a traveler, a conversationalist, and most importantly perhaps, a philanthropist.

She inherited a 12 foot tall four-poster bed once used in the family home in New Orleans.  It required a house with at least a 14 foot bedroom ceiling.  She designed and had built a semi-attached “Cassita” on her double lot just to accom0date this bed.  That was Peggy.  That was just one, “Peggy story.”

About the same time as she built her “bed house”, she also built a storage room (not a “shed”) for her Snow Babies collection and a few other collections she had.  She had maybe 1,000 Snow Babies, all different, most in the original boxes.

Peggy was never a mother, never had children.  She did quarter and entertain hundreds of exchange students during her life.  They were her children perhaps, perhaps they were more like just friends.  Peggy wrote lots of letters.

Peggy’s collections

Peggy was not just a consumer, she was a collector.  Peggy didn’t buy just one or two of something, she bought one or two dozen.  Peggy loved to cook and to entertain and to show off her collections.  If a decorative plate or platter was good enough for her favorite guest, it was good enough for every guest, so she did not buy one piece or one place-setting, she would buy a whole set.

Every party was different, every dinner party, every buffet.  Every time a new collection would emerge and be put on display.  Peggy would talk, everyone else most likely would listen.

Christmas was a favorite theme of Peggy.  She also loved Easter, the bunnies and all, mostly.  She also loved China; the country, the porcelaine, the plates – everything China.  She collected Kimonos.

Her wooden jumping jacks ornament collection was world class.  She had maybe 1,000 of them, all different, maybe less, maybe more.  She collected Chinese roof tiles, the collectible ones with the animal motifs.  She had a stuffed animal cat, not a real one.  It lived in the living room and always looked real, always curled up near her over-stuffed divan.

the sale of the century

Not all “garage sales” or estate sales in the Huning Castle neighborhood are as grand or as interesting as the sale at Peggy’s.  When Peggy died she left her stuff, her collections, to the financial benefit of the Albuquerque Community Foundation.  Just about Everything.

An estate sale company was retained, it took ten people two weeks just to price all the stuff.  Eight or ten hour days, and that was just for the Estate Sale “Act 1“.  A picture is worth a thousand words, it is said.  A thousand pictures of the sale items would leave anyone speechless.  Act 1 is over now, the marked prices were fair, sometimes a real deal.  Hundreds walked away with a, “piece of Peggy,” a piece of her life, a garage sale find.  Sometimes some new stuff (new to you) can make life better, and can help the community too.  Maybe two-thirds of the Act 1 merchandise wasn’t sold.  Part will be there for Act 2, part was given away to other charities.   Peggy wanted it this way, and the neighborhood and Albuquerque are richer for it.

location, location, location

It is about 400 feet from 1514 Silver SW to “Peggy’s house” at 1605 Park Avenue SW.  It is about 3,000 feet (2/3 of a mile) from 1514 Silver SW to the Albuquerque Community Foundation office at 624 Tijeras Avenue NW.

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