December 04, 2023

Estate Sale

New record hunting adventures in the Pacific Northwest!

Carlos Cuéllar
Carlos Cuéllar @cuellarfr

Reading time: 1 min

Tags: music

Last week, in one of my multiple moments of procrastination, I found on Craigslist an ad about an estate sale (for non-Americans, a general sale of all the material belongings in a household). Not something I’d normally be interested in, but the highlight of this one was a vinyl record collection of a thousand albums, 60s and 70s classic rock, fair prices, all in mint condition. It sounded promising and it wasn’t too far from my home so… why not?

It’s Saturday morning, I got there a bit early and there were already 20 people in line, all prepared with those huge blue Ikea bags. They let us in, and they take us to the living room where there’s a dining table full of boxes, and a couple of bookcases with more records. There’s a guy wearing a baseball hat that looks like Larry David, he’s ruthless (at least as ruthless a hunting record collector can be) and he’s talking to another guy: I’ll look up here while you look there, and then we switch. There’s another younger guy with his girlfriend, he looks at every record and asks for her opinion (‘yes, no, maybe’). And then there’s me, behind all these people, looking depressed while they quickly get all the records I wanted (bye-bye, Badfinger’s original pressing).

After 10 minutes or so, Larry David was satisfied enough and I finally got to look at the boxes. I wasn’t expecting to find many treasures but somehow I did. And then it hit me. In one corner of the room, there was a vintage Pioneer turntable and a Sansui receiver, and in the other corner some old crutches and a walker. All the records were signed by the original owner, Bill. And there were also handwritten notes, tickets to concerts (Neil Young at Portland’s Civic Auditorium, January 1992)… I wasn’t just buying old records, I was taking memories of somebody else’s life.

I ended up taking home fifteen of Bill’s records. Wherever he is, I hope he knows I’ll take good care of them.