Granny's Notes - the writing of Sue Gerard

Uncle Manuel bought ice skates out of seas...

Uncle Manuel bought ice skates out of season and resold them in winter by putting a sign in his lawn announcing, “Ice skates for sale or trade.” After his death, his skates were sold at auction, with his other personal property, on a sultry August day. They were displayed as matched pairs, clean and neatly hanging over a wooden fence. There were hockey skates, racing skates, figure skates, antique skates, new skates still in boxes -- skates for all sizes of feet. And there were double-runner skates for tots, old-time Keen Kutter clamp skates and one pair with leather at the heels, like the ones Joe Garity gave me when I was 10 years old.

“How much for the skates?” the auctioneer asked. No answer. “How much for choice pair? Take as many as you want.” Still no response. “One with the privilege, how much?” Silence. Since these skates had belonged to a relative, I thought it well to start the bidding. “Five dollars.” Nobody else raised that bid so I chose six pairs of various sizes, for our grandchildren. The auctioneer chanted on, and there were no takers at any price. Then he said, “Look, folks, I have to sell them. How much for the whole batch -- all of the ice skates?” No bids. No one wanted skates on that hot summer day, at any price! I asked myself, “What in the world would anyone do with all of those skates?”

Pondering that, I recalled that kids outgrow their skates every year and in some winters, there’s not enough ice to warrant the expense of new skates. Like uncle Manual, I had occasionally bought good skates for a dollar or two per pair, just to have them to lend to guests, friends, 4-H members and others. When ice thickens, my phone rings. “Do you have any skates to fit so and so?” I say, “Come and try them on.” When our son, Walt, owned the bike shop, he’d buy, trade and sell ice skates, but natural ice isn’t safe for skating some years, so it wasn’t a very profitable venture. The auctioneer’s voice droned on, “Bid something, anything.” Suddenly I heard my weak voice say, “five dollars,” and the man pleaded for $6. Then, “Sold, to Sue Gerard for five dollars.”

Strangers stared, my husband frowned in disgust and friends asked, “What in the world will you do with all of those skates? Walt drove the pickup truck close to that fence full of skates and began to load my sale bargain. I counted as Walt and bystanders tossed skates into the truck -- 180 pairs of ice skates! It was a rounded pickup load, and I have a picture to prove it!

That winter I gave skates to adults and children at Olivet Church, neighbors, friends, Amish children and 19 pairs to a 4-H group for their garage sale. I had reserved enough pairs to supply our own family as feet grew through the years. And there are still about 40 pairs stored away. When winter comes, I’ll offer the rest to our grandchildren. All seven of them are teenagers, needing spending money. Perhaps, like uncle Manuel, they’ll put a sign up some real cold day. “Ice skates for sale.”

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