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The Hilltop Guild Bazaar
People will stand in line for the real thing. Oh, we stand in lines for lots of things, but we complain about it. The only time we don't complain very much is when it's the real thing. Live theatre, a Bruce Springsteen concert, or the Hilltop Guild Bazaar, that sort of thing.
Of course I went to the Bazaar on the 2nd of August, and if you missed it, I can only hope you'll be in line next year for the 34th annual Bazaar at the Kelly House, where they've been holding the Bazaar since 1954. Or maybe I hope you won't be in line.
About 200 people all tried to get into the Kelly House at once at 10:00 A.M. on the nose, as John Love counted down the seconds. No sale at Harrod's was ever greeted by a more frenzied but cheerful group, as they snatched at potholders and baby comforters, place mats and rugs, blueberry pies and peanut fudge and brittle, and much more.
My mother was in charge of white elephants and seemed to be doing a pretty good business, so I went to see Sam Wegenast, who sold me enough jam and jelly to get through the winter and I then joined my wife, who, along with 30 other folks, was rifling the baked goods counter. Not much salesmanship needed here.
After the first 45 minutes the crowd calmed down in anticipation of the lunch, which this year was an outstanding chicken pot-pie and cole slaw, French bread, home made cookies (of course) and ice cream. For only $3.00. And they tell us we gouge the tourists.
The Guild works all winter on this single day, and it's really mostly over in the first hour and a half. When John Love gets the countdown to zero it reminds you of a cross between the Oklahoma land rush and Hitler's assault on Poland. Next year it might be a good idea to sell tickets just to watch the crowd attack the Kelly House.
After lunch the white elephants, what remains of them, go for half price. I suppose that included the two kitchen sinks I saw. But before noon Sam was down to seven lonely jars of Apple-Mint jelly, and people were busily writing their names on raffle tickets for the usual spectacular prizes. Back in 1955 my father won a quilt, so we've had our turn, but I always buy some tickets anyway. I didn't win.
But I'll be in line next year, because I'll be out of chokecherry jelly and there may be a treasure among the used books, and who knows, I may even win in the raffle. But even if I only have lunch, it's in a good cause and it will be worth waiting in line, again, for the real thing.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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