First time readers, kindly read the first entry for October 27, 2012, when this story began . . .
* * * *
I lived in Ohio for 25 years, after marrying and subsequently divorcing a law school classmate. For many years, friends and I met at various Amish schools on Friday evenings in the summer, where the church district that supported the school held an annual auction to raise funds for the next school year. After overcoming my fear that I’d scratch my nose and wind up purchasing a live chicken, or a bunny in an aluminum hutch, I became an enthusiastic bidder.
The auctions were the perfect ending to the week. There were long tables bearing slices of homemade pies, cakes, cookies and doughnuts, bags of popcorn, ice cream sundaes and fresh fruit. Saran-wrapped paper plates piled high with a stunning variety of baked goods and plastic bags containing freshly made bread were lined up on others. Mason jars filled with pickles, corn relish, piccalilli, jam, jelly and honey filled another.
I was invited to a lot of baby showers over the years, because I quickly accumulated a number of tiny hand-stitched quilts, crocheted or knitted booties, caps and sweaters. I made an occasional purchase for myself, including a white ash wine rack that held a dozen bottles of wine and an equal number of goblets, a rocker made of bent hickory branches and a number of quilts – which hung behind my couches in the living and family rooms, over the side-board and even in the hall leading to the bedrooms.
I never left empty-handed. I became friends with the bearded Amish auctioneer, who raised Haflingers and Belgians. He always walked over to me with a big grin and shook my hand when I arrived. He knew where I was seated, and knew that when I placed my cardboard paddle beneath my chair, I was done bidding.
Friday nights became sacred time for me. I have fond memories of the barefoot children in bonnets or straw hats, swinging on the schoolyard swings, holding hands as they stood in the line for one of the outhouses, or running among the items awaiting auction. I once threatened to bid on a bleating goat tied to a cinder block and have it delivered to my friend’s home as a practical joke. She laughed, but was so fearful I’d follow through, she snatched my paddle and sat on it until the bidding ended.
The location of each auction was announced weekly in the Middlefield “Good News,” which could be purchased at local supermarkets or was available by mail. An annual subscription cost something like $15. One day, while searching the classified ads for the name of the school and its street address, my eyes fell upon a small box, containing the words, “Wedding Dress - $100. Never worn.”
I thought of my own wedding pictures – blurry polaroids taken in the apartment my husband and I shared our third year in law school. I’d gone to class that morning, accepted the hairdresser’s offer to do my hair as her wedding gift and picked up the cake, before my car got a flat. I jacked up the car, changed the tire and ruined my hair in the drizzle that had begun while I was seated in the salon. I returned to our apartment, opened the hatchback and saw the small sheetcake that would serve the 12 family members who would attend my first and only wedding. It had a crack through the center that separated it into two, irregular pieces.