A CHANGE OF VALUES
911 changed the
whole world forever. And in the auction business, we are constantly
reminded of that.
In the affluent
times (70s, 80s & 90s), everyone who was anyone collected something.....
remember coming to an auction or even at a dinner party when someone asked you,
"What do YOU collect?" In the mid-seventies, we were young
and had no idea how society thought on this, we were invited to a buffet
lunch after church by the goodly church people (would you believe?) and
after viewing the beautiful china and silver in their home, was questioned, "What do you
collect, dear?"......I answered honestly, "Sobey's dishes" (You know, the
ones we used to got for a dollar each when we bought $5.00 worth of grub).
Can you imagine the looks I got!!!! (We left that church soon
perhaps a better word for it! Many houses we have gone into contained
literally thousands of useless "things". Little old ladies just bought
and bought everything and anything....the doctors, lawyers and Indian Chiefs
had to outdo each other.....even the common Joe was a big buyer.
Much of this
can be attributed to the lack of stuff for many years--during the
depression, then the clamp in the wartime. With so many men back after
1945, it was just a matter of getting a job. And then a bit of a
depression in the late 50's put a freeze on everything, so, when the
money started rolling in again, "stuff" became a status quo
thing.....the more stuff you possessed, the better off you
were--particularly antiques! They were prestigious!
People just kept
buying and buying for years.....auctions flourished, to say the least!
antique shops were hopping!
Then came 911.
The change was not striking....it took a while.
began to get calls from people with big collections saying they were selling
out all but a few things. None of them really needed the money.
They had just come to the conclusion that "things" were not that important.
Most of them spent the money making others happy--like giving their
grandchildren a trip to Disneyland, buying their daughter a Dishwasher or
giving their son a Deed to the piece of land he's always wanted but could
not afford.....just things to improve the quality of life for someone else.
They spent the money as if it was their last day alive and they just wanted
to do some good for somebody!
Along with that,
many people did not want to hang onto furniture from "before 911", that
related to those affluent times and they no longer wanted any remembrance of
those times....the average Victorian piece of furniture
died! (The high-end stuff held its own, but that's a different
clientele). If you go back in history and study furniture, you will
find that the Louies (X1V, XV & XV1) that were really big for years,
sometimes selling for up to $100,000 per piece before the fall of 1929 never
ever regained their former value. People who could manage to hold onto
such pieces during the big depression felt everything would recover
afterwards, but that furniture never did. It seems things relating to
that time just before the fall left a bad taste in people's mouths and they
just looked for something else after the depression. Same thing with
911, Victoriana seemed to leave a bad taste and people just looked for
something else after that. Victoriana is coming back a little now, but
nothing like it's former value. There was a time in the affluent era
when we could get $2000 for a good sofa, today we are lucky to get $400 for
the same thing. It just seems like "bad times" leave bad memories and
people don't want to stir those up with things that makes them remember.
Before 911, a
collection of Royal Doultons consisted of 200 figurines plus; now a
collection is around 10 to 15. And they don't "love" them anymore;
they "like" them.
The change has
not been good for our business, but it is nice to see people become real.
Australian Gun Law Update
Here’s a thought to warm some of your hearts
From: Ed Chenel, A
police officer in Australia
Hi, I thought you all would like to see the now available data from Down
Under. It has now been one year (12 months) since gun owners in
Australia were forced by a new law to surrender 640,381 personal firearms to
be destroyed by our own government, a program costing Australia taxpayers
more than $500 million dollars.
The first year results are now available: -
Australia-wide, homicides are up
Australia-wide, assaults are up
Australia-wide, armed robberies
are up 44 percent (yes, 44 percent);
In the state of Victoria alone, homicides with firearms are now up 300
percent as compared with the last one-year period when private ownership of
a firearm was legal.
(NB: the law-abiding citizens did turn in their personal firearms, the
criminal element did not and thus criminals in Australia still possess their
While data for the 25 years preceding the confiscation of privately owned
guns showed a steady decrease in armed robbery with firearms, this has
changed drastically upward in the past 12 months as criminals now are
assured their victims will be unarmed.
There has also been a dramatic increase in break-ins and assaults of the
elderly, while the resident is at home.
Australian politicians are at a loss to explain how public safety has
decreased after such monumental effort and expense was expended in
‘successfully ridding Australian society of guns.’
This story of well intentioned government intervention in the rights of
lawful individuals to own and possess firearms won’t be seen in the either
the Canadian or American mainstream media or on the evening news.
If President Obama advocates a similar confiscation in the US, there will
not be any reporting any of this to you.
But, the Australian experience speaks for itself. Guns in the hands of
honest citizens save lives and property and, yes, gun-control laws affect
only the law-abiding citizens.
Canadians and Americans may want to take note before it’s too late!
.....................another report we recently received is that the
lowest criminal rate in North America is in the State of Texas--the only
place in North America where a person is allowed to pack a pistol and there
people are often seen right in the city wearing holster and pistol.....does
that make a statement?
THE HERMIT OF GULLY LAKE
Probably most of you have read the book published in
June 2006 about Willard MacDonald (or as they called him "Kitchener" MacDonald). ....but
we all knew him as "Willard" the Hermit of Gully Lake.
My take on the story is somewhat different for we knew
the MacDonald family well.
When I was in my teens, Jessie (Willard's mother) lived
across the street from us up on Beaches Road in Pictou. She was a
beautiful person, not just her personality, but physically--she was in
her 70's then & her face was clear baby pink & she didn't have a wrinkle.
She was a lovely lady altogether and I learned much from her. To my
knowledge, she never spoke a bad word about anybody. She would not lie
to people, but if she knew the truth was going to hurt to the point of
causing a problem, she would not render a comment or an answer.
She was a positive thinking lady and always saw the good in everyone.
And she was a very Godly lady.
But the story goes back a lot further than this....my
brother, Alden, became close friends with Ronnie (Willard's brother--or
nephew as the books says). I know nothing about that; but I do know
that Jessie and Fin (Willard's parents) dearly loved Ronnie.
Unfortunately, the book says he was considered a shame unto them--that is
not true for he was the apple of their eyes!
Now to get on with names, "Fiddlefoot", as we all called
him, was Willard's father and why they ever called him Howard all through the
book beats me, for as long as I can remember, Jessie called him "Fin", short
for Findlay. His full name was either Findlay Howard MacDonald or
Howard Findlay MacDonald--whichever, but to everyone, he was known as
Findlay or "Fiddlefoot".
Now "Fiddlefoot" was a very fine concert violinist and
when he was in the States, he played in the Boston Symphony Orchestra
(although the book says he didn't). Mrs. MacDonald told that to me
with her own mouth. And Fin told my brother, Alden, the same thing. That is
why they lived in Summerville for he was able to board the elevated railway
from there to get into the City in short time for work at the Orchestra.
The MacDonald family came back here from the States in
the "hungry 30's". At one point, it was mentioned to my brother that
they felt they should return here since war was imminent and Willard would
surely have to go to war in the States. At that time (before the war
and a few years into the war), Canada advocated its abstinence from conscription....and
thus Jessie & Fin felt Canada would be the better place to reside then since they were against killing
at all costs.
Later, of course, Canada did conscript soldiers and that is how the whole
basis for this story occurred when Willard was conscripted and jumped the
train that carried the soldiers off to war and headed for the hills instead. He
was a fugitive and had to hide. Had he been found in those times, he
would probably have been shot.
The book implies that Fin (Willard's Father) was not
much of a breadwinner, in fact even indicates that he was a lazy man.
However, the fact is that he knew no other trade except professionally
playing the violin & working with violins. And so he did all that he
could to earn a living--he made and repaired violins....I can still picture
that sign at the end of their lane at the West end of Pictou. "Violins Repaired"
(then they lived out in a little one & a half story house very near to
the Causeway exit from the Rotary....Ben Humphrey's house was right there
where the Hardware Store is now, then MacDonald's little place and then the
old stone Tyrol Inn, now the site of Rollie MacDonald's immense
place). Things got a bit better in the 40's but in the mid 50's in
Pictou County, you couldn't buy a job...everybody was hurting. And
certainly nobody was having violins repaired. So Fiddlefoot did the
next best thing he could--he packed up his little pouch of files every day
and peddled away to town on his bike and went door-to-door sharpening knives
and scissors for 10 to 25 cents apiece....it was long and tedious, but put
some bread on
When Willard realized his parents were so strapped for
money in the 50's, my brother remembers they got a message for his father to
ask someone to take a
truck out to to meet him at such-and-such a point in the country to pick up pelts. Alden said Willard had trapped all winter
and gave his father a large truckload full of mink, beaver and muskrat pelts
which took in thousands of dollars which sure was big money in those days. And that went on
every spring as long as Alden could remember. So neither was Willard a lazy man or uncaring of his
family, for he provided for them liberally for several years. Not only that, but
after Willard jumped the train and went to the woods in the 40's, he would slip back home for 4
or 5 days every year when the weather got fine and worked the ground &
planted a huge vegetable garden for his folks and then came back in the fall
to harvest same. These visits were kept secret.
As I mentioned earlier, my brother, Alden, and
Ronnie (Willard's brother) were close friends since Grade 7. My
brother played the guitar and Ronnie played the violin (which he, of course,
learned from his father "Fiddlefoot"). That, in fact, was the
start of a little band that Ronnie & Alden formed for playing at the local
dances when they were in their late teens.
Often Alden went out to Ronnie's place after
school where he and Ronnie played their instruments together. Alden was intrigued
with the MacDonalds. They were very knowledgeable people - both Fin
and Jessie. Alden said he learned much from them.
It was there at the MacDonald home that Alden met
Willard on several occasions when he came home to see his folks and do the
gardens for them. Usually, he said, when Willard came home, no one
knew he was coming (even though the war was over then, he was still
considered a deserter)--the way it was, the folks would just wake up some morning and
Willard would be out there
working the garden or fixing something for them. He left the same
way. Alden recalls one time walking into the house when Willard did
not know he was there and Willard was playing away on a bagpipe chanter--and
very good music, too. Alden said Willard was very distant in those times
(he attributed that to Willard living in the woods by himself), but he was very
One time when they were still of school years,
Alden and Ronnie hitchhiked out to Diamond and they walked up the old road
to MacIntosh Lake where they fished for the day. I believe Alden said
Willard made his abode around MacIntosh Lake in those early times and then
later at Gully Lake. They never saw Willard at all going in or at the
lake. Late in the afternoon, they though they'd better get going down
the old road to Diamond and get on their way home before dark. Although they
hadn't seen Willard, he obviously had seen them earlier and though he'd have
supper ready for them on the way out. He met them on the old road and
invited them over to the cabin. There Alden said he had the most
fantastic meal he had ever eaten. It consisted of venison and
vegetables of all sorts, but nothing he had ever seen before. When
asked, Willard said they were wild vegetables that grew in the earth and
Alden said they were delicious, but he never saw them again in his whole
lifetime. Along with that he had fresh sourdough bannock ready for
them, and, of course, cold spring water to drink.
Over the years, Alden came across Willard many
times. Once he recalls he came into the old Saturday night dance at
West Branch where Ronnie and Alden were playing the music for the dance.
Willard just sat there in the corner and never bothered anyone, just
listening to the music. However, some young thing went over and tried
to play up to Willard. Her boyfriend noticed this and came over to
pick a fight with Willard. Other guys joined in. That episode
ended very fast. Alden recalls that within 3 to 5 minutes, Willard
walked out of the hall and rode away on his bike. Every other male in
the place, except the band members, were lying on the floor trying to pull
themselves back together again. He had taken on the whole hall by himself!
As Alden says, "Willard was one able lad in his day!"
And so the saga has continued for over 5 decades.
When Donnie and I were just young, Jessie,
Willard's mother, moved into the little house across from us on Beaches
Road. Fin was deceased by then. Once a month, Jessie would pay
us to take her out on a Sunday afternoon to see Willard. She must of had some
way of letting him know when she was coming. We would park on the main
road just past Earltown and she would walk up an old road by herself, but
sometimes we caught sight of Willard meeting her on the lane and always
walking her back to the edge of the woods before darkness set in. He
would wait up there and watch from between the trees until she got into the
car. Jessie took a little bag of things out to him every time she
Later, our nephew, Duane, who is an adamant
hunter, came across Willard in his travels and began taking a 50 lb bag of
flour out to him every fall. On one of those occasions, Willard asked
him into the cabin for some bannock. The sourdough bannock was make right on
top of the old stove--no pan. Willard just wiped the worst off the
stove and put the dough right on top to cook it. That's when Willard
was getting old. To my knowledge,
Duane did not have any of the bannock. But he recalls Willard with great admiration
that he could resist the world all that time and be his own person.
The last time that Duane took out a bag of flour was the fall before Willard
died. At that time Willard told Duane that that was the last bag of
flour that he would be needing. A couple months late, he found out
Note: There is now
a Movie-Documentary out now about Willard. We saw it at the theatre in
New Glasgow on 25th of November 2007 and now they are occasionally showing
it on television....It is exceptional....very accurate
and had several short video clips of Willard.....it is a true to life thing.
Don't miss it!
YARD SALE CAN BE BAD FOR
SELLER; GOOD FOR BUYER
Quite recently in the States at a yard
sale, a lady put out a still life painting she had hanging around the house
& ticketed it at $10.00.
It was snatched up by someone with a bit of knowledge who consigned it to a
quality auction where it sold for $52,000.00.
Another interesting recent
An American lady was willed various items from her mother's home including a
painting which the local art gallery told her could fetch several thousand
dollars. She consigned that into a quality auction hoping to get
enough money to offset her son's college tuition. The lady and her
husband were painting a closet while watching the auction online and when
their painting reached $30,000.00, the husband fell off the stepladder, but
when the hammer fell at $620,000.00, they both fell back in shock. It
is expected the painting was by the mid 17th Century Italian Painter, Pier
Francesco Mola (although unsigned), but apparently 16 bidders from around
the world must have identified it.