Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bonnie and Gene

Fashion over function.  Sometimes the city girl forgets country reality.  As I looked over my footwear situation yesterday morning around 5:25 a.m., I pulled out a pair of grey and green tennis shoes.  St. Patrick's Day determined the need to wear green.  I slipped into my knit black crop pants, a grey t-shirt and an aqua sweatshirt and pulled out of the driveway by 6 a.m. to attend a southern Missouri farm auction.

Here in the Kansas City area, it has been dry and warm.  I just assumed the entire state of Missouri was the same way.  So when I arrived at the farm auction and looked at the thermometer that read 51 degrees, I knew I was in trouble.  The cloud base was thick and the fields were a mix of newly-turned mud.  Many fellow auction customers were parking on the gravel road, but I decided to follow the red and white auction parking sign that indicated we could pull onto the property.  I parked right inside the gate and immediately was told by someone with the auction company to pull back behind the barn.  As I started to pull forward, I noticed a huge mud pit that I'd have to drive over and decided then and there, this was a bad idea.  So I pulled past some orange cones to turn around and one of the auctioneers came up to me and said I could certainly go back to where I started, that he was so happy to see that I drove that far and said it wouldn't be a problem to park out front.  Good business.  I like this auction company for a reason.

As I got out of the van and started walking, my feet sunk in the wet, cold ground and it wasn't long before my tennis shoes were water-logged and muddy.  I was kicking myself then and there for not grabbing my boots in the morning, but decided to just grin and bear it.  Next time I would wear my boots.

The auction was to settle the estate of the couple who lived there and had passed away.  All of their personal belongings as well as the items they used out on the farm were up for sale as was the house.  The home was quite old.  These pictures were taken by the auction company:

There were some oldies out in the field ready to be passed on to new owners like this McCormick-Deering tractor:

The picture that caught my eye, though, was this one showing these delightful blue outdoor chairs:

I started browsing in the pole barn where the furniture was located.  Passing by a large oak dining room table, an elderly woman pursed her lips and said to no one in particular, "Hmm.  I served up many a meal around this dining room table."  She placed her right hand over the top and rubbed along the edges as if touching the table would somehow bring the past to the present. "Was this your family?" I asked.  "Oh yes," she answered, "Gene and Bonnie were my aunt and uncle."

She continued her inner reminiscing while going from piece to piece.  You could tell each piece unlocked a memory within.  I stood quietly and watched her as she ran her fingers over the furniture like one does the spine of a book after they've read the final chapter.  Estate auctions are like that.  There are always so many memories and so many final chapters.

Later, as I was looking through the household items, she found me and started talking as she picked up a drinking glass with orange and black butterflies decorating every square inch.  "Oh my, Bonnie loved butterflies."  She chuckled.  "She sure did love her butterflies.  Maybe I'll buy a glass as a memorial to Bonnie."

About 2 feet behind where we stood was a small grouping of daffodils rising out of the ground.  "Did Bonnie love to garden to attract the butterflies?" I wondered. She smiled at the visions crossing her mind's eye and turned around to face me.  "See this front yard?  It was full of flowers.  So many flowers.  She had the largest garden I had ever seen and everything was so beautiful and oh, the butterflies were everywhere." Suddenly her smile was gone.  "But then, Bonnie died and Gene, he was too busy to water the gardens and everything died and was gone."  As abruptly as the conversation started, it ended and she walked off.

The auction began and I purchased a delightful yellow enamelware pan, a chippy paint red-handled strainer and primitive pot lid metal wall hangers.

The wind continued to whip, the sun never came out and my teeth started chattering, so I left early without the blue chairs or many of the great primitives that were going to be auctioned off later in the day.  What I left with, though, was a priceless peek into the lives of Bonnie and Gene. And to me,  that was yesterday's greatest treasure.

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