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Estate of Mind

Finding meaning in discarded items



One day this summer, I was out running errands when a yellow sign caught my eye. Estate Sale, it read. Turn Here. I made the right-hand turn and continued up a tree-lined street until a line of cars told me I had arrived.

The moment I walked into the house, I knew I was in the midst of a true estate sale. The house was frozen in time. There were tube TVs and cassette decks, and piles of tchotchkes and knickknacks. Everything was analog and 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! Mr. Magoo!) and more 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 former college roommate. He’s a real car guy.

As I reached the top of the stairs, I began to piece this family together. There’d been a husband and wife, and a glimpse of pink carpeting suggested a daughter. A second bedroom off the upstairs hallway heralded clues of 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 yearbook from 1987 on a bookshelf. Next to that sat a box full of hand-dubbed cassette tapes: Peter Gabriel, Bon Jovi, Phil Collins. It looked as if nothing in this guy’s room had been moved or thrown away since Ronald Reagan was in office.

I went through the pile of clothes on the bed and was excited to find a vintage 1980s surf shirt and—wonder of wonders—a pair of Jams! Jams were neon-colored shorts that were all the rage in the late 1980s. Yes, I owned several pairs. Folding the shirt and shorts under my arm and retrieving the car brochures from the desk I headed downstairs. Five dollars bought the lot.

When I got home that afternoon, I tossed the clothes in the washer and put the brochures in the mail, then 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? 

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, and son. Another search told me the husband had died more than a dozen years ago. The wife died in 2013, and the son? The guy whose Jams I’d bought for a dollar? 

He died, too—last year.

So there it was.

We live in a  is a community steeped in history. Wilton Parish was founded in 1726, while Wilton became its own township in 1802. But there is another history here, one that unfolds every day behind the windows and doors of the houses in each neighborhood. 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 estate sales. Instead, my fascination with these sales— in Wilton and around Fairfield County—comes not only with the history of the Lamberts and the Gregorys and the Comstocks but also with the history of the regular, everyday people who live here.

I’ve been to estate sales at houses owned by the very people who built them back in the 1950s. I’ve seen piles of photograph albums and ledger books—the stories of joys and sorrows and lives both remembered and forgotten. I’ve seen shag carpeting and mid-century centerpieces and games and toys and accordions and enough taxidermy to fill a horror movie set. I’ve seen a child’s discarded painting and a signed Alexander Calder print. And it’s these glimpses into another family’s life that reminds me how lucky I am to be living in a neighborhood I love surrounded by people I love.

Next time you see a sign for an estate sale, slow down and take a little time to check it out. Sure, you might find a cut glass pitcher for five bucks or a cool old seltzer bottle for two. 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

And maybe you’ll find a cool pair of Jams. Once summer comes, I’ll be wearing mine proudly. You can count on that.


ESTATE SALE KNOW-HOW 
Not all estate sale agents are created equal. You can avoid being scammed by making sure to thoroughly check references, request a typed inventory after the appraisal process, and insist that they have proper security on the day of the sale to avoid theft.

 

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July 2018

Have tea with a former first lady! Join the Norwalk Historical Society on Sunday, July 15, 2018 at 2:00pm for a Summer Tea with Abigail Adams at the Townhouse at Mill Hill Historic Park....

Cost: $40 - $45

Where:
Mill Hill Historic Park - Town House
2 East Wall St.
Handicapped parking on site only. All others follow signs to overflow parking across the street.
Norwalk, CT  05851
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Historical Society
Telephone: 203-846-0525
Contact Name: Samantha Kulish-Fargione
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Grab your best friend for a Girl’s Night Out of making your own natural skincare products at Red Bee’s Honey House Barn! We’ll make beeswax lip balms, healing salves and honey...

Cost: $125

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

Danny Lipsitz and The Brass Tacks: A Not Impartial Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll Featuring the Saxophone Danny Lipsitz and The Brass Tacks tackle the fascinating history of the saxophone's...

Cost: FREE

Where:
The Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts
40 Jesup Rd
Westport, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

On Sunday, July 15, dance will be the featured performance for the Newtown Savings Bank Fine Arts and Family Series at Ives Concert Park at 7:30 p.m. Connecticut Ballet ...

Cost: Adults $10; children 12 & under $5.

Where:
Ives Concert Park
43 Lake Ave Ext
Danbury, CT  06811
View map »


Sponsor: Newtown Savings Bank
Telephone: 120-383-79226
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Morning exhale flow on the water! Yoga on the Boardwalk returns every Sunday morning, beginning in May, on the Harbor Point Boardwalk.  Led by our Yoga Teacher, Shannon Aleksa. Her...

Cost: Free

Where:
Harbor Point Boardwalk
1 Harbor Point Road
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

First stop—Pedego, where you and your friends explore the waterfront roadways, picturesque winding routes north of the shoreline, and everything in between on a Pedego Electric Bike....

Cost: $50

Where:
Meet-up at Pedego
50 Water St
Norwalk, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Grab your best friend for a Girl’s Night Out of making your own natural skincare products at Red Bee’s Honey House Barn! We’ll make beeswax lip balms, healing salves and honey...

Cost: $125

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Caring for a loved one who is ill is stressful and exhausting. It can be a profoundly isolating and lonely experience. Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County and Wilton Library invite you...

Cost: Free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 203-762-8958, ext. 316.
Contact Name: Laurie Petrasanta
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Grab your best friend for a Girl’s Night Out of making your own natural skincare products at Red Bee’s Honey House Barn! We’ll make beeswax lip balms, healing salves and honey...

Cost: $125

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Back by popular demand! Professional book discussion leader Susan Boyar will discuss 6 short stories published in The New Yorker magazine over 6 consecutive weeks. Each Wednesday's...

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Make and decorate your own house for fairies! July 12th and 19th at 4:00 PM You are welcome to one or both sessions For kids in grades Kindergarten and up. Younger children need to have...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Join the Red Bee team and Stems + Co, a boutique flower design studio, for a bee-friendly floral centerpiece workshop at Red Bee’s Honey House Barn in Weston, CT on...

Cost: $100

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Stems + Co
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Red Bee Apiary's Talk, Tour & Honey Tastings are an opportunity to visit a working apiary and experience honey at its source. Take a tour of Red Bee's apiary and gardens, once...

Cost: $35

Where:
Red Bee Honey
Weston, CT  06883


Sponsor: Red Bee Honey
Contact Name: Emily Sabo, Events Manager
Website »

More information

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Join Grace Farms Foundation for an inspired conversation about how religion is portrayed in the media today. Journalists Wajahat Ali (New York Times and CNN contributor) and Michelle Boorstein (The...

Cost: Free

Where:
Grace Farms
365 Lukes Wood Road
New Canaan, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Grace Farms Foundation
Telephone: 203-920-1702
Contact Name: Regan Hayes
Website »

More information

Nature is on display in “A Reverence For Nature” with pieces that reflect the artists’ admiration of nature or the environment in a multitude of ways. Exhibiting artists include...

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: Nadia Martinez
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Looking for some family-friendly activities this summer? Visiting museums is educational and engaging for even young children, but tickets can often be expensive. Luckily, The Friends of Keeler...

Cost: free

Where:
Keeler Library
276 titicus road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

On June 23, the Bruce Museum in Greenwich opens Expressionism in Print: The Early Works of Richard Haas, 1957 - 64 in the Arcade Gallery. The exhibition will be on display through October 21, 2018....

Cost: Free for members; $10 for non-members; $8 for seniors and students with ID

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


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

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Burn Baby Burn”, a group exhibition featuring works by Kathleen Kucka, Dennis...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: (203)801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Take a 2 ½ hour narrated train and riverboat ride through what the Nature Conservancy calls “one of the last great places on earth,” the Connecticut River Valley. The train...

Cost: $37-$42

Where:
The Essex Steam Train and Riverboat
1 Railroad Ave.
Essex, CT  06426
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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