Urban Archeologist: A Treasure Trove in Norwalk

Intuition over Positive Thinking leads to a more appealing sale.


I don’t go to every sale in a 50-mile radius; I don’t set out at the crack of dawn and wait until first light to tap on the door of a sale. I don’t want to spend the bulk of my weekend driving and digging, driving and digging. I have a family. I have friends. I have a job, and don’t want to lose sight of what’s important. But I do like to find treasure.

This past weekend I had to balance family responsibilities and the weather with several opportunities to dig. There is only so much time in a day and that quickly wastes away when trying to choose a direction. By 12:30 p.m. (a time most sale-ers pack it in) my daughter and I were free to search for treasure. Our choices were these: the estate of Norman Vincent Peale in Pawling, NY or an estate sale south of Route 1 in Norwalk, CT.

This is where it helps to have a network of friends. Justin Krul, estate sale-er and picker first class, had texted me the day before with a tip about the Norwalk sale. As much as I would have liked to go to the NVP estate, I felt that I should go based on Justin’s four-text description. My daughter hung with me for the first 20 minutes and then slept the rest of the 50-minute journey.

The Norwalk sale was a typical suburban home in a quiet cul-de-sac — an estate sale service was helping the family empty out years of collecting by their parents. One of the parents had been a well-known genealogist in Norwalk and before that a librarian and bookseller. As we approached, the signs said, “All books are free” as if they had been held prisoner and now could see the light of another bookshelf.

When I stepped in to this sale my jaw dropped. Every so often I find a “dig” that is as though a portal to the past opens very briefly and I can rush in, access what’s there, collect some samples, and then slip out before the portal closes.

Though we arrived in the late afternoon, I was amazed at the volume of books and periodicals that filled the garage and basement. This sale was not unlike the Chuck E. Cheese “ticket blaster,” a stand up wind-tunnel in which you have 36 seconds to grab tickets inside the eye of a tornado—my daughter’s favorite. It was impossible to look at all the shelves and decide what to keep and what to leave and so we began by grabbing a few boxes of old newspapers and magazines.

It wasn’t until we heard “10 minutes to closing!” on the second floor that I started to panic. What of the other numerous small items would I buy and make a deal for? I walked around a table, picked up the nearest box of old bits of paper and approached the desk offering $10 dollars for it and everything else we’d chosen.

“Sure. Sale’s over. Please exit through the front.” I felt as though with another five minutes I could have gotten more books, more old papers, but the time portal closed and I had to return to reality. 

You can see by the images that what I did grab was gold. In the hopes of enhancing the content of my blog, I think I found enough to cover weeks of new posts. My favorite piece from the box (right now) is the Post Card from 1875. Read what travel was like out west by clicking here.

Greg Van Antwerp is a Brookfield resident and blogger, who can be found on the weekends in search of a good “dig” or a good story.  You can read more about his adventures by visiting his blog.

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