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A Yard Sale Tale

September 27, 2010

Scriptures admonish us “do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.”

Translation:  Do not pack your grandfather’s old cow barn slam full of all kinds of stuff that you think you might someday need.  Moth and rust may destroy, mice and squirrels may break in and build nests, and mold and mildew may invade.

And sooner or later you’ll have to clean the place out!

With lots of help from five energetic teenagers, I cleaned out my barn. I found five P.H.D.s – posthole diggers.  One pair purchased in Louisville, Kentucky, forty years ago, now has a broken handle. The second I bought in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.  I inherited a pair from my father-in-law, Mr. Jack, and another from my Uncle Asbury. The fifth, I borrowed from my dad when I was unable to find any of the other four.

I hauled four pickup loads of trash to the dump.  I contributed three loads of assorted items to a church yard sale.

Several years ago, my large family had a yard sale.  We were successful in selling our junk. We bought as much as we sold, hauling stuff from our siblings back to our own homes.

I found this story in Chicken Soup for the Soul.

Bob loved yard sales. Every Friday Bob examined the newspaper, plotting the locations and mapping his route for the next morning.  Bob’s wife hated yard sales.

Bob arrived at the first sale before daylight.  The guy setting up was annoyed.  Bob walked down the line of plywood tables with a flashlight, examining everything.  He turned the corner and followed the display the length of the driveway.

He found nothing he wanted.

In the garage, he noticed something covered with a tarp. Bob peeked underneath. Voila! A vintage Harley-Davidson motorcycle!

“Is it for sale?”

“You don’t want that. It’s seized up. You’ll have to put in a new engine. That would cost more than it’s worth.”

“What’ll you take for it?”

“Forty dollars.”



Bob paid. He pushed the motorcycle that would not run down the driveway to his truck. Using a couple of two-by-six’s, he rolled the old Harley onto his pickup and strapped it down.

Circling the block to be sure his wife was still asleep; he backed into his driveway, unloaded the motorcycle in his garage, and covered it with old sheets.

Several weeks later, he took a look at the old motorcycle. If he was going to fix it, he would need an owner’s manual.  He called information to get the number for the Harley-Davidson Company.

He spoke to a person in the service department. “I’d like to get an owner’s manual for a motorcycle.”

“Do you have the serial number?”

“I’ll call you back.”

Bob found the serial number, wrote it down, and called again.

After Bob gave the man the number, the representative put Bob on hold.

He came back apologizing, “Sir, I’m not able to match that serial number with an owner’s manual.  We’ll call back at the first of next week.”

Sure enough, on Monday morning Bob received a phone call from the vice-president of the Harley-Davidson Company. “Bob, I want to check this serial number.”

Bob found the card where he had written the number down. He read it to the vice-president who read it back to him.

Bob said, “Yes, that is correct.”

The vice-president requested, “Bob, I want you to double-check that serial number to be sure you have it right.”

Bob went back out, checked it, and came back to the phone.  The vice-president was still holding the line.

“Yes, sir, that is the serial number.”

“Bob, do you have a Phillip’s head screwdriver?”

“Yes, I bought one at a yard sale about three weeks ago.”

“Go back to the Harley. Remove the three screws that hold the seat on. Bring the seat to the phone.  I’ll hold the line.”

Bob did as instructed.

The vice-president asked, “Turn the seat upside-down, and tell me if anything is written on the bottom of the seat.”

Bob turned the seat over and saw two words printed on the bottom of the seat.

He said, “There are two words.”

“What are they?”

Bob answered, “The King.”

The vice-president said, “Bob, the Harley-Davidson Company will offer you $100,000 for that motorcycle.”

Ever the haggler, Bob said, “I am going to think about this for a while.”

The vice-president said, “Okay, Bob. We’ll be back in touch.”

The next day, the president of the Harley-Davidson Company called:  “Bob, we’ve decided to offer you $250,000 for your motorcycle.”

Bob said, “I have to talk to somebody about this before I sell my motorcycle.”

Two days later, Jay Leno called, “Bob, I have a thing about old motorcycles.  I understand you have a Harley that was owned by Elvis Presley.  I’ll give you a half-million dollars for it.”

The Morningside Yard Sale is being conducted by our youth group.  The yard sale officially begins at 7:00 A.M. on October 2 at 897 South Pine Street in Spartanburg.  It will be inside the Fellowship Hall, rain or shine.

I don’t think you’ll find a motorcycle previously owned by Elvis.  I have it on good authority that there are some mighty fine posthole diggers to be had.

Kirk H. Neely
© September 2010

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