Around the Island

Richard’s Almanac: Second hand

I wonder how many readers out there remember Billy Gauvreau. He maintained for many years a perpetual yard sale out in front of his trailer on Midway Road.

I thought about him recently because of all the talk about requiring permits for yard sales. Billy called his place Fox Woods with a sign and an image of a red fox. His place was always busy on Saturdays during the summer, as I recall. You must realize that I am digging back almost a half century to when I first saw his place.

My wife and I were cleaning out the bungalow that we had just purchased. Some of the items were usable, but dated. We had more up-to-date stuff. Like a stand-up mixer and bowl. It was among the many items that I left at the “take out” area of the dump on Bowditch Road.

As I have mentioned before, there were two trucks backed up to a parking area.

You drove your car in and unloaded the garbage. Anything that you thought someone might be able to use was left on the shelf. And there was always a variety of items to sift through. I remember seeing cans of soup and bottles of wine. Not that I would ever think of taking them.

I guess that this was the precursor of the “Goody Pile.”

So, one Saturday morning we decided to take part in going to the plethora of Island yard sales. There on a table at Billy’s place was our old mixer with a $2 price tag on it. How enterprising, I thought. As I looked through his inventory I also noticed things that I had left for take out.

I didn’t realize it then, but this was an exercise in very real recycling. And everyone won. He made a few bucks, I got rid of stuff I didn’t need, and someone else scored a bargain. Can’t beat that.

In the late 70’s or early 80’s my daughter went to Billy’s and bought a T-shirt that said “Scorpions” on it. She remembers that I wouldn’t let her wear it because I thought the scorpions might be some kind of cult. I don’t remember that. She also said that Mrs. Gauvreau gave her a religious statue for free.

To my knowledge, no one ever sought to close Billy’s place down. His forever yard sale was just one of those charming quirks about this special little island.

I do recall a feature story in the Reporter many years ago about Billy and his wife. I don’t remember many of the facts, but do seem to have heard that he was a retired puppeteer. And now, while Billy and his place are long gone, he will always be remembered for his yard sales.

Our Recycling Center is unique in the respect that many do use things discarded by others. Just the other day I had to dump a dead microwave oven and saw someone picking up a few lamps that looked usable. You actually do need a permit to go through the metal and construction debris piles. I think that’s for insurance purposes.

That’s why the Goody Pile is so important. Everything is there for the taking and giving (with clearance).

My granddaughter is a big fan of second-hand stuff. She loves going through the Goody Pile. She also spends time with her brother picking up things to wear from the Op Shop in Greenport. The prices are very reasonable and the merchandise is usually of good quality.

It makes me a bit nervous getting previously worn clothing, but I guess if you wash it thoroughly or have it professionally dry cleaned, it should be O.K.