Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Estate of Mind

Finding Meaning in Discarded Things



You never know what you might find at an estate or tag sale. Gott likes to think of the people and the memories behind the items he sometimes buys.

Last summer, I was driving up Fairfield Woods Road when a yellow sign caught my eye: “Estate Sale,” it said, “turn here.” Never one to disobey a sign, I made the right-hand turn and continued up a tree-lined street until a line of cars told me I had arrived.

Those of you who enjoy estate sales know that there are, generally, three kinds. The first are glorified moving sales, in which homeowners try to price mass-produced Ethan Allen furniture and Home Goods gewgaws at high retail so they can make a few bucks to cover the down payment on a new place in North Carolina. The second are junk sales, in which exhausted, bereaved family members attempt to unload years of accumulated detritus for pennies on the dollar. But then there are true estate sales, in which a home becomes a museum where buyers might find wild and wonderful treasures.

The moment I walked into the house off Fairfield Woods, I knew I was in the midst of a true estate sale. The house was frozen in time. There were tube televisions and cassette decks and piles of tchotchkes. Everything was analog, solid state, and injection molded. The prices clearly screamed “Get rid of it all!”

In the living room, I flipped through a box of records before entering the kitchen, where I found vintage gas station collector’s mugs (Rocky! Bullwinkle!) and more Cornflower Corningware than I’d seen outside of my own parents’ kitchen circa 1984. The dining room held a multitude of surprises including a few original automotive brochures (“The 1986 Volvo 240 has a number of advanced features”) that I picked up for my college roommate. He’s a real car guy.

As I reached the top of the stairs, I began to piece this family together. Surely, there’d been a husband and wife, and I caught a glimpse of pink carpeting that suggested a daughter. But the second room off the upstairs hallway heralded another clue: there must’ve been a teenage son. I’ve got pictures on my phone of an original Miami Vice poster that had been neatly rolled up and stuffed in a box in the corner of the room. I spotted a Fairfield Warde year book from 1987. Next to it sat a box full of hand-dubbed cassette tapes: Hooters, Peter Gabriel, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins. It looked like nothing in this dude’s room had been moved—or thrown away—since Ronald Reagan was in office.

I rifled through the pile of clothes on the bed and was excited to find a vintage 1980s surf shirt and—wonder of all wonders—a pair of Jams. (If you weren’t a teenage boy in the late 1980s, Jams were neon-colored shorts that were all the rage.) Five dollars bought the lot.

When I got home that afternoon, I tossed the clothes in the washing machine and the brochures in the mail, and went about my business. But I couldn’t shake a feeling. There was something about that house. Who’d lived there? What had happened to them? Why did it seem like everything in that house had just stopped, more than thirty years ago?

While in the son’s room, I’d pulled the yearbook off the bookshelf and seen his name inscribed in the front cover. So I googled the house’s address and the boy’s last name. Sure enough: there they were—husband, wife, daughter, son. Another quick search told me that the husband died more than a dozen years ago. The wife died in 2013, and the house, it seemed, had been closed up since then. And the son? He died, too—last year. So there it was.

Fairfield is a community steeped in history. Our town was founded in 1639, and we still encounter the names of our own towering historical figures—Burr, Osborn, Penfield—every day. The Fairfield Museum and History Center is, of course, an incredible resource that helps us understand the broad, deep, and occasionally unsettling history of the place we call home.

But there is another history here in Fairfield, and it’s one that unfolds behind the windows and doors in our own neighborhoods. When I bought my first home, I frequented estate sales so I could find furniture for the guest bedroom and flatware for the kitchen. Now, I rarely buy anything at an estate sale. Instead, my fascination with these sales comes from my fascination not with the history of the Burrs, Osborns, and Penfields, but with the history of the regular, everyday people who live among us.

So the next time you see a sign for an estate sale, slow down and take a moment to check it out. Sure, you might find a cut glass pitcher for ten bucks or a cool old seltzer bottle for five. But you might also find your curiosity piqued as you ponder the connections we make with each other and the bonds that connect us. Maybe you’ll think, as I do, about the people in our community whose stories must be told—because we need to hear them—before it’s too late.


ONE MAN’S TRASH  In the midst of a 55-acre field in New Milford, an oasis of vintage and repurposed finds abounds at the Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market. Open from April through mid-December, it’s New England’s largest market, and is often the backdrop for HGTV’s “Flea Market Flip”. 

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

               

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

A Curling We Will Go

Trying Out an Olympic Sport

Art of It: Finally Making Sense

Rolling Stone's photographer Jay Blakesberg's captured many of the greatest musicians including the Talking Heads

Fairfield Out & About - Oct & Nov

Walk This Way

Brick Walk Tavern has surprisingly interesting food served in an upscale, friendly environment

The Queen of Kind

At home with Lisa Lampanelli

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Join us for a Forum on the Worldwide Refugee Crisis comprised of two panels in the Dogwood Room of the Barone Campus Center on Tuesday, November 13 from 3:30 - 7:00 p.m. Panel 1: The Syrian...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Join us in viewing a Sudanese-American Coffee Ceremony as representatives of the Sudanese-American House in New Britain, CT demonstrate how to prepare and serve traditional Sudanese coffee. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield University Art Museum
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

In 1920, the 18th Amendment was enacted banning the sale of alcohol across the country. However, in our "land of steady habits," alcohol consumption was a habit that proved hard to break. In the...

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Members of Fairfield’s Arabic Language Club will offer a fun introductory language lesson—learn basic greetings, introductions, and more! Join us on Wednesday, November 14 from 7:00 - 7:30 p.m....

Cost: Free

Where:
Quick Center for the Arts
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

Join us for a FREE lecture! Falls are a leading cause of injury among older adults. However, the fear of falling doesn’t need to rule your life. Learn strategies for preventing falls and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Health Tully Health Center
32 Strawberry Hill Court
1st Floor Auditorium
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Sponsor: HSS Sports Rehab
Telephone: 203-705-2933
Contact Name: Pamela Villagomez
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Mishka returns as a duo to perform your favorites and new music off of his forthcoming album. An 'organic' singer mixing the relaxed styles of Jack Johnson with a deep reggae groove. His...

Cost: $25 Members Save:$3 /tckt

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOned
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

 BRODY WILKINSON EMERGING ARTIST SERIES Rambunctious Danish indie rockers New Politics formed in the late 2000s around the talents of vocalist David Boyd, guitarist/vocalist/keyboard player...

Cost: $28 Standing Room Only Limited Seating First Come First Serve No Member Discoun

Where:
The Warehouse at Fairfield Theatre Company
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: BRODY WILKINSON
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Wine & Cheese Reception: 6 – 6:30pm; Program at 6:30pm. Register online at the link below: A panel of journalists and professors, moderated by Larry Rifkin, will examine the state...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Each event in our Art in Focus series offers an opportunity for an hour of close looking and informal discussion around a single work of art, led by Curator of Education Michelle DiMarzo. On...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

 Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Brooklawn Country Club Host a Business After Hours: November 15, 2018   The Fairfield Chamber of Commerce and Brooklawn Country Club will host its November...

Cost: $20 Chamber Members, $30 Non-Chamber Members

Where:
Brooklawn Country Club
500 Algonquin Rd
Fairfield, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Chamber of Commerce
Telephone: 203-255-1011
Website »

More information

Learn winning plays, key strategies, and new vocabulary in a fun and friendly environment. For grades 3-12. The club is taught by Dusty Brown, who competed in both the 2017 North American Scrabble...

Cost: $125 per student

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Fairfield Museum and the Fairfield Chapter of the National Charity League are pleased announce our 4th annual Holiday Pop-Up Market!  We have had tremendous success with this event and we are...

Cost: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Celebrate a Fairfield tradition from the early 1800s. Before Thanksgiving, friends and families visited neighbors, sampling a variety of pies at each house. As the revelers moved on, they grew...

Cost: General admission $5; Seniors and Students: $3

Where:
1750 Ogden House
1520 Bronson Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Natural Pet Outlet is hosting Pictures with Santa! Bring your pet on Saturday November 17th from 10am-5pm and join The Natural Pet Outlet staff and Santa for a free 5 x 7 photo. No...

Cost: no cost

Where:
Natural Pet Outlet
3380 Fairfield Avenue
Bridgeport, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

The Fairfield Museum and the Fairfield Chapter of the National Charity League are pleased announce our 4th annual Holiday Pop-Up Market!  We have had tremendous success with this event and we are...

Cost: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield Museum and History Center
Telephone: 203-259-1598
Contact Name: Visitor Services Manager
Website »

More information

Join us Saturday November 17 from 11-2 in the Sportsplex in Fairfield to find out about LivenUp's custom IV Drips, Hyperbaric Chamber, Beaner, and Wellness Support Systems. Dr. Salerno...

Cost: $39-$275

Where:
LivenUp in the Sportsplex
85 Mill Plain Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

St Joseph High School's Maroon & Gold Gala is a scholarship event that casts a spotlight on the school’s strong commitment to community service and leadership. It is a fabulous...

Cost: $150

Where:
The Waterview
215 Roosevelt Drive
Monroe, CT  06468
View map »


Sponsor: St Joseph High School
Telephone: (203) 378-9378
Contact Name: St Joseph High School
Website »

More information

Described as “one of the sharpest, funniest storytellers in rock” by Rolling Stone and “an exceptional songwriter” by NPR's Fresh Air, Todd Snider’s due diligence...

Cost: 38

Where:
Fairfield Theatre Company StageOne
70 Sanford Street
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

ReTooled: Highlights from the Hechinger Collection, an engaging and thought-provoking look at the unexpected subject of tools, will be on view at the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, CT, from September...

Cost: Members and students with ID free. $10-$25

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 2034136735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Celebrate National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with the first annual Pequot’s writer’s conference. Join Tim Tomlinson of the New York City Writers for a day of workshops focusing on your...

Cost: $100 lunch included

Where:
Pequot Library
720 Pequot Avenue
Southport, CT  06890
View map »


Sponsor: Pequot Library
Telephone: 203-259-0346
Contact Name: Pequot Library
Website »

More information

Parenting is never easy, but raising children with learning and attention disorders presents unique difficulties. This conference will help parents focus on developing their children's...

Cost: 50

Where:
Winston Preparatory School
57 West Rocks Rd.
Norwalk, CT  06851
View map »


Sponsor: Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities
Telephone: 203 682-1664
Contact Name: Alison Brown
Website »

More information

Please join us on Saturday, November 17, for Family Day: Life in Ancient Greece. Family Day activities include arts & crafts and a child friendly gallery tour designed for ages 4-10. Session 1: 1...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bellarmine Hall
200 Barlow Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Sponsor: Fairfield University Art Museum
Telephone: 203-254-4046

More information

On Saturday November 17 at 6 p.m. join a wonderful team of astronomers and view planets, stars, and constellations. Note: Families are invited to a special preview in the Learning Center...

Cost: $4/New Pond Farm member ($16 max/family), $6/non-member ($24 max/family)

Where:
New Pond Farm Education Center
101 Marchant Road
Redding, CT  06896
View map »


Telephone: (203) 938-2117
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags