Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
The Gold Lace Tablecloth
by Kathleen Moynihan Greer
The way I heard it, Aunt Joan Loewenguth had bargained for the gold lace tablecloth at Sibley's Department store in the late 1960s, which even back then was unheard of, to dicker in the Linens Department of venerable Sibley's. I don't remember the asking price, but I know she got it for $25, which is upwards of $100 in today's money.
The Loewenguths had a big house and a big family and entertained often, but the gold lace tablecloth was well cared for, providing elegance for many years--until the move to the new house. There, it no longer went with the décor. A number of things did not, hence the Garage Sale on a Saturday late in June.
I got there around 2, and most of the merchandise had moved, but I heard about the sale of the gold lace tablecloth and the woman who bought it. She was unkempt, wearing dirty sneakers, and an old jacket with blown-out elbows. Her gray hair all over the place, a shabby ball cap trying to contain it. She stood out even more due to her annoyance with Aunt Joan for not taking less than $25 for the gold lace tablecloth.
The tablecloth was marked for the full amount paid. It represented a sort of trophy for Aunt Joan, having acquired it the way she did--it was a record-setting score. The shabby woman felt that was too high for the 20-year-old thing, but Aunt Joan was adamant. Twenty-five dollars. The woman grudgingly slung cash at Mary who was in charge of the cash box, then stomped off with her haul: some picture frames that Uncle Jim had refinished, a blown glass bowl that had been a gift from a client, and I forget what else besides the gold lace tablecloth, but, (they told me,) the woman had gotten some "great stuff;" she'd had a "good eye."
The next day after Mass, (I later learned,) the Loewenguths had breakfast at the Frog Pond restaurant on Park Avenue, a favorite Sunday spot. They walked out to a gorgeous June morning, amid rollerblades and Wayfarers. Aunt Joan suggested that they check out the new antiques shop across the street. Clearing the threshold, she spotted it immediately. It was draped over the back of Victorian chair of needlepoint upholstery. Aunt Joan came to a halt, pointing.
"That's my gold lace tablecloth!!!" It certainly was, only now it was marked $150.
There, too, was the same woman, her gray hair sleek, her make-up and gold jewelry on, a silk scarf knotted just so. The woman became incredibly busy with paperwork, MUCH too busy to even make eye contact. Aunt Joan said she didn't mind. As they made their way back to the car to go home, the June sunshine was now warmer, (and though I don't know this part for sure,) I believe Aunt Joan's trophy fairly sparkled in it.
Kathleen Moynihan Greer, Drone from Sector 7G, lives relatively quietly with husband and cat in Rochester, NY.
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