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Auctions revisited
JOHN GIBBS is a resident of Gays Mills, Wisconsin. He is an award-winning weekly columnist for the Crawford County Independent newspaper in Gays Mills, Wisconsin.

GAYS MILLS - And another thing about auctions (continued from last week)  I’ve found that it pays to take a roll of $1 bills along. Here’s why: sometimes at auctions lots of stuff is thrown together and sold as a lot or a pile.  Approaching a ‘lucky’ befuddled buyer of such a treasure trove, you can perhaps buy something you want out of the pile.  “Will you take a dollar for this” means one less thing for him to haul home.  At the last auction I attended, I bought more stuff from other buyers than I did through the auctioneer.

I went to an auction sale in Iowa once-didn’t know a soul there.  I got my number and started browsing.  As the sale started and people gathered around the auctioneer’s stand, I was shocked to hear “Sold to John Gibbs.”  

Since it’s a standard joke to not make any sudden moves at a sale, lest the auctioneer mistake it for a bid, I stood really, really still until I heard that I’d bought something else. I was flummoxed.  I went to the  clerk to see how much I had inadvertently spent.  

“Oh, I meant to tell you, we have two John Gibbs here today.” explained the bemused clerk. I breathed a sigh of relief and sought out my namesake. The Iowa John Gibbs turned out to be a very pleasant area hog farmer. We got a good laugh out of my confusion.

I went to a two-ring sale once. It was a regular circus. There was simply too much stuff to be sold by a single auctioneer in a day’s time.  It was a multigenerational sale at a farm where nothing ever got thrown away. I was there by myself and didn’t know which ring to watch.  I kept going back and forth between the rings, wondering what I was missing at the other one.  

That two-ringer was the sale where they “sold the shed,” something I hadn’t seen before and haven’t seen since.  The auctioneer had been selling stuff out of an old garage/shop building for almost an hour. Four or five auction helpers would enter the building and come out carrying typical shop items. Finally after a short conference with his helpers and the seller, the auctioneer announced that the next bid was for “whatever’s left in the shed.” 

There was plenty of stuff left in there, believe me. Several of us walked through the disheveled building as the auctioneer took a short break. 

Soon, the bidding began. The shed sold quite quickly as there were not too many bidders for this volume of stuff.  It went for $15.

The crowd moved on to the next area. A young fellow and his wife and a helper backed a big flatbed truck up to the shed door and started loading it up with the shed’s contents.  I hung around and asked if I could buy a couple of items I wanted. There was a primitive homemade leg vise and a hubcap from a fat-fendered Ford auto,  a ‘46 I think. Within five minutes, the young man had collected at least $30 from other people who had specific items they wanted. He still wound up with a huge truckload of……..well, as they say, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.