July 2004


Americana Revisited

One thing I have been doing a lot of in the past few weeks is doing things that will be rather difficult to do once in Germany, whether for cultural, geographic, or linguistic reasons.

Certainly in the linguistic, and perhaps cultural, category is the weekly auction held in downtown Bloomington. Somehow I convinced Mateo and Mike to join me there last night.

The auction first came to my attention back when I lived downtown and hung out with Nathan quite a bit. I have no idea how he found the auction, but it is located in the alley behind the Chocolate Moose between 2nd and 3rd.

I’m not quite sure what is more interesting: the other customers or the crap that is for sale. Usually the prices start high and go down from there, and most of the merchandise would be lucky to sell at Goodwill: old rusty meat grinders, “brass” objects, velvet art, and other assorted stuff goes under the hammer every Saturday night.

My most distinct memory of this auction was when Nathan had decided to buy a clock for a lounge in his department, and the offer was a choice clock for a dollar or two. He hesitated for a second and stuck his arm up. Unfortunately for him, the auctioneer had given up on trying to sell one clock and was selling the lot of clocks for one price. Nathan got 7 clocks that we then carried off.

Last night we were at the auction for about an hour: all three of us managed not to buy anything, not that there was anything we wanted to buy-although Mike briefly was interested in a stack of Star Wars materials.

I wondered what the houses of the purchasers looked like, many of them were well recognized by the auctioneer as regular guests, and they weren’t hesitating to buy stuff. The couple in front of us purchased three meat grinders-the previously mentioned rusty ones, a box full of knickknacks, and several other items while we were there. Their purchases were stored on the floor in front of them and on a chair to their side.

Even if I find an auction like this in Germany, it won’t be the same. I lack the language skills to understand the bidding and probably won’t acquire them for quite some time. I would probably end up bidding way too much for some “brass” object.

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