A 3,000-mile sale

May 22, 2005
CAÑON CITY - There’s no telling what people were picking up along Highway 50 in Nevada, Kansas and Virginia on Saturday. But on this stretch of road there were doodads galore.
The 3,073-mile gimmick to promote tourism paid off in this community, part of the “Great U.S. 50 Yard Sale” conducted in cities and towns on Highway 50 from California to Maryland. “It is nicknamed ‘The loneliest highway in America.’ It isn’t lonely today,” local coordinator Jackie Johnson said as hundreds of bargain hunters descended on the town. Six other Colorado towns, from Montrose to La Junta, joined in the sale, which continues here today at two city parks along Highway 50, plus more stands along side streets. Highway 50 was once the main road into and out of Cañon City as it was in many other towns, Johnson said. “After they build the interstates, everyone is so busy going as fast as they can, nobody takes time to stop and smell the roses. This stops them.” Bob “Toots” Ellard stopped pedestrian traffic inside Veterans Park. He was determined to fetch $10 for a rusty farm thingamajig — even if it meant doing some fast fabricating. “It’s an ear trumpet,” he said. “You can hear everything. This lets you hear so good I can hear what you’re thinking.” Helen Bertoli paused to listen to his spiel and give it a gander. “I’m tempted,” said Bertoli, who divides her time between Colorado and Arizona. “But I’d have to figure out what to do with it when I get back to Tucson.” She contemplated a place to display it while heading off to check out the other deals. Walking away is part of the whole yard sale karma. “We can go back to see if it is still there. If it is not there, well, it wasn’t meant to be,” said her husband, Don. Maybe so, but Crystal Traywick wasn’t taking any chances. “I am still kicking myself for not buying jewelry at the sale last year,” she said. Minutes into the sale scene, she saw an old Kenmore metal fan. “It spoke to me,” she said. She didn’t like the $5 price tag. She offered $3. “I’m the local haggler,” she said, clutching her prize. Resident Kenny Smoot watched as shoppers sifted through his spread of handmade mirrors, cow jawbones and “pretty much just junk.” He set up shop at last year’s sale. “I did pretty good. I made about $400.” Cañon City newcomer Burt Parsons welcomed the chance to meet neighbors and de-clutter. “It was time to get rid of stuff,” he said. “Stuff my nieces, nephews and children don’t want.” His stuff included old cameras, tools and his mom’s 1930s hand mixer that made thousands of cookies, cakes and pies that he helped eat. Jo Bowan didn’t need 3,073 miles of yard sales to scour. By midmorning Saturday, she was taking her second armload of loot to the van, the bells on her $1 Christmas wreath jingling as she walked. “I’m a pack rat,” she said. “I should be out here selling.” Next year. CONTACT THE WRITER: 636-0253 or abrown@gazette.com
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