Last night I went to the Orono-Old Town Kiwanis Auction, partly to get out of the house, and partly because going there reminds me of Granddad. Granddad was a member for many, many years in the Kiwanis, because he was a very community minded man.
I used to go the auction as a child and hang out in the book barn. Once when I was ten I bought a 1914 Italian textbook under the delusion I was going to learn Italian. Under the auction tent, swatting mosquitos the size of hummingbirds, I would watch as the auctioneer enticed people to bid on a new canoe made in Old Town, Maine, an old top hat from days gone by, or a wobbly old table that is "perfect for camp". Camp is the word used to describe lake cottages here in Maine.
Last night I ran into one of my sisters there, and some other family members, too. My sister and I went in to scout out the furniture barn, because I needed a round table to rehab for my living room (found it!) You never know what you would find at the Kiwanis Auction.
In the furniture barn, we came across a white settle bench that used to be in Granddad's barn. My sister and I looked at each other with astonishment. I teared up. The bench was already sold, with a piece of tape on it that said, "M. B." Out of curiosity, my sister asked one of the workers who bought it, and got the story that it was going someplace where someone would cherish it. My sister and I took pictures of each other with the bench with my camera phone, as well as the bench alone (see above).
The truth is, every family member had a chance to take anything from Granddad's house for over a year. And what was unclaimed went to the Kiwanis auction.
I don't really know the story of the bench and how it came to be at Granddad's house. Maybe it was there when he bought the house. Here it was in the barn serving as a glorified weedwacker stand. Granddad and his wife had sent it to the barn at some point to make room for a comfortable table and chairs set on the porch.
When I was a child it used to be on one side of the porch that went into the kitchen. We used to sit on it to put on and take off our boots and mittens. I remember seeing a new litter of kittens in a box there. But while it squeezed my heart to see this at the auction, Granddad would have loved that this bench was making money at the Kiwanis auction, something he believed in strongly.
And so the bench moves on to a new home, and Granddad's vision for helping people goes on, too. Granddad would love that.