The smell of composted hay and the curiously thick, fluffy, dry dust it forms was, at Maggie’s Store, formally introduced to me. This introduction was because to get to the desirable unexamined things in the store that were “for sale”, I had to sort of dig in-under and around into places where the other customers didn’t seem to go. Fact is, what would actually happen is my mother or grandmother would “make me” “go in there” and “see if you can reach me that” “No: That other one”. This was because, over the years Maggie’s Store had been in business, she had never cleaned it out or... anything and so had just layer upon layer piled it up and over and under until a whole lot of areas were best accessed by a very small, young and agile boy who would “fetch that” “for your grandmother”. Now once I was “back in there” it was pretty clear even to me that this “stuff” had been there awhile because some of it WAS from WORLD WAR II and that “stuff” caught my eye all along even though “THEY” kept making me “hand all of that” other stuff out to them.
“IT” or “THAT”; all this stuff, was filthy as it was covered with this hay dust compost. Some THICK. So I was a black-brown when we ever DID get home and that’s when the ritual of my grandmother yelling at me to take my clothes of in the shed and “DON’T COME INSIDE” began. I know now they were lucky as having their own auction hall porter to have me to do all that grub work for ‘em and I also know now how come we was always going there. That’s because Maggie’s Store held these mounds of treasure that if these two witches-on-broomsticks MINING ENGINEERS could just get the little grub-boy MINER to “dig it out” of the MINE they’d... discovered in Maggie’s Store... : I should have been paid better.
But it was neat because Maggie had kept everything so I’d find about twenty layers of old soda signs and boxes of ancient mouse eaten candy bars mixed into a mound of boxes with boots and glassware sets and a whole display rack of “LOOK AT THESE” “old fashion” flashlights that NOW some collector has in his LIVING ROOM and his WIFE “HATE’S EM” but even she admits that “EVERYONE” “talks about them”.
The true irony of all that excavating is that ninety percent of that really great stuff I excavated in there one couldn’t GIVE AWAY for the first TWENTY YEARS I was in business. As I write this the SAME people that “don’t want THAT” back then would TODAY “SHINE THE FLASHLIGHT FOR YOU” “to find that”. So would I. But not MY GRANDMOTHER. SHE was stuck on those Windsor Chairs or what they called “the looking glass” and her always mentioned “old settler things” or “some old sea captain’s” this & that. MOST rarely could any of THAT stuff hold my attention such as like that time I found this leather covered square box that had letters and papers and a knife & fork, and an OBVIOUSLY OLD jack knife and all... that. “They” didn’t say TOO much about it AT Maggie’s but THERE AFTER it was kept out in the very, very front of my grandmother’s house under the stairs where she would keep what were her very, very “best things”. That was because no one but THEY could read and it turned out to be this box of letters from a man who was in the Civil War and when they read them out loud to me I could understand THAT IF he had not been SO lucky as to have been “only” hit in the left arm they would have “cut off” more and he’d NOT been able to write about “what happened”.
“What happened” to THAT box beats me because, out there; in the very, very front best stuff area, things changed. The only difference between a change THERE and out in the shed and barn was that the people who went out there (and my grandmother would only let ‘em through the front door OUT THERE because for some reason NOW very clear to me she didn’t want ‘em to “come through the house”... [because it was full of... “great stuff”... she’d “kept”]) was that these were always what one would call a “good customer” and “better folk”. That still didn’t prevent them from getting all huffy over something out there, under the stairs. They’d fold their arms and walk around and sit on a sofa and talk on and on and stand up and fold their arms again and FINALLY old Mr. WALLET would consummate all this ...intercourse. NOW… I KNOW what THAT was “all about”.
And that was a long way from Maggie’s Store and that box of letters when I found it because I was working along this bench by the window on the side of the little room and that had these old tools buried under all these boxes of stuff that I’d had to “hand out”. NOW THERE; on this bench, it was clear to me that this was some sort of some MAN’S workspace because of the tools and THEY said HE had one arm and my grandmother “remembered him” but I didn’t understand THEN that Maggie had lived THERE all her life and that the people of hers had TOO so that, when one looked BACK into who’d lived “there” “forever” it was ALL the same family and NOW I know this was one of the... REAL reasons that my mother and grandmother kept going to Maggie’s store. This was especially true I guess because of the way THEY kept always saying “how when they built the second house” it was the biggest “on the interval” so that it eventually was clearer to me that the “small barn” was originally the first house but most people would never “KNOW THAT” They said. That house was from “right after the Revolution” They said “when they moved up” from Massachusetts.