Uncle Stan And Garage Sales Filled Our Tool Needs

3 Jun

Every time my husband has to fix something around the house and uses a tool, I think of his Uncle Stan. He was a bundle of energy, with an ever-present unlit cigar hanging from his mouth.   But, he had one guilty pleasure, he loved garage sales. More important, he needed a reason to go. He wanted to go, but I think he knew he really did not need anything. So he searched for a reason to ‘investigate’ garages.

When my husband and I got engaged, we presented him with the perfect solution. My husband would need tools. Uncle Stan knew there was no way my husband’s Dad would supply tools or even know anything about tools. He was not capable of fixing things. In fact, whenever we came to their home for a visit, my husband’s Mom had a list of things for him to fix. We would definitely need someone to fill the tool void. And Uncle Stan was our man!

Uncle Stan believed it was unnecessary to spend lots of money on tools, when some people were basically giving them away at garage sales. He had a limit on spending. Most tools he bought were for under $5.00. Really most were for a dollar or two. And the best for my husband and I, we never paid a cent for any of these tools.   Uncle Stan did not pay for them either. He got all payments from my husband’s Mom.

After I was married, I was able to witness one transaction. We lived in a different city than my husband’s parents and Uncle Stan and his wife, Aunt Mat. Uncle Stan and his pals would go to garage sales early, early on Saturday mornings, when the sales were at their best, and before Aunt Mat awoke. When he was done, he would take his bag of goodies to my husband’s mother at the family travel agency.

Then the bickering would begin. The time I saw it, it went something like this.

“Hi Bubbles,” Uncle Stan said as he opened the door. ‘Bubbles’ was my mother-in-law’s family nickname.

“Not another bag of junk!” She said, as Uncle Stan entered the agency carrying a plastic bag that jingled.

“Bubbles, this isn’t junk,” Uncle Stan said. And then he saw me. “Hi Precious (everyone was precious to Uncle Stan) I got some more tools for your husband. Right here in this bag.”

Then he turned to my mother-in-law. “You owe me $20 this time,” he said.

“Twenty dollars! For that junk! Let me see it!” She exclaimed.

Price tag is still on this homemade nail and screw holder that Uncle Stan got for us for $1.00.

Price tag is still on this homemade nail and screw holder that Uncle Stan got for us for $1.00.

And out the stuff came. There was a screw driver; a really neat set of wrenches, all different sizes, in a pouch; a file; and some other stuff, including this very strange contraption that was somewhat circular and had tiny glass spice bottles attached by the lids and were filled with nails.

“This screw driver was a bargain, a bargain. I got for just $1.00,” He said. “It is a great one.”

“What’s this thing?” My mother in law asked, holding up the round spice jar thing. I wanted to know as well.

“It’s wonderful. You keep all your loose nails and screws in there. Someone actually made it. It is a great idea! It even hangs on the wall,” Uncle Stan announced. “He’ll love it.

“Well, I know where the loose screws are,” my mother-in-law answered. She was looking for her purse as she said it, but we know she meant Uncle Stan.

And we all laughed.   You see buying the tools at the garage sales was just the first part that he loved. The best part was haggling with my mother-in-law. She was a younger sister of his wife. Left an orphan when she was a teen, she came and lived with her sister and brother-in-law when she went to college at Washington University in St. Louis.

They had a most loving relationship, and buying the tools just gave them a reason to tease each other. Not that Uncle Stan ever really needed a reason to tease in the most friendly and loving way. He was always ready for teasing.

The tools were paid for, and Uncle Stan went on his way.
“See you next week,” he said as he walked out the door. My mother-in-law shook her head, “Not if I see you first!”

She turned to me. “I have lots of bags of tools and other stuff for you at home,” my mother-in-law told me. Maybe you can take a few with you.”

Not really. We were living in a small apartment.

But several years later, when we bought our home, and moved furniture there, the bags of tools came in the moving van. They filled an area of the basement. Besides tools, Uncle Stan got my husband containers, a toolbox, and even some power tools in carrying cases. All the power tools worked, Uncle Stan tested each one before he bought it. My husband set up a workshop in the basement with most of the tools, but some tools he put in the garage. Not to sell, but for easy access outside.

To be honest, there are some things that for the past 29 years, we still have no idea how to use or what they do. But we keep them, because Uncle Stan thought we might need them one day. And you truly never know.

I also have to admit there were some tools he could not find for us. But that turned out to be a blessing. It gave my Dad something to do. Once we bought our home, my parents would come to visit. It was my Dad’s great pleasure to go to an home improvement store with my husband. My Dad loved the Home Depot! He and my husband would spend hours walking up and down the aisles. And my Dad always found a tool or two that we needed to finish a project or start one, besides the items they really went to purchase.

Dad, Uncle Stan and my husband’s mom, Bubbles, are all gone. But their memories live in all the tools that help us keep our house in good shape. Most important, I cannot pass a garage sale without wonderful memories of Uncle Stan’s excursions to find us tools.

2 Responses to “Uncle Stan And Garage Sales Filled Our Tool Needs”

  1. Sherry November 1, 2016 at 6:49 pm #

    Hi. Garage sales, thrifts–me. Dolls, bears and toys–yes!! Thank you.

    • zicharon November 1, 2016 at 7:44 pm #

      I love garage sales too!

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