At times, I believe I ventured into the resale business just so that I could continue to feel this rush long past the time when my own house is furnished and my own collections are complete. This is certainly evident on a day like this one – an overcast October day where the temperature barely tops forty degrees. Yet here I sit outside, bundled in several layers of clothes, as I bear witness to one of my favorite pastimes: an estate auction.
Each auction is as unique as the person who owned the estate. The products are a glimpse into their personality and past. Countless treasures are divvied up, finding their way into new homes where they will be loved and appreciated by the people who buy them. For some, it seems a sad affair: a life torn apart and divided amongst the masses.
For me, there is joy in it. It is a recycling of the energy of a household. New life is breathed into old objects, allowing the energy of the person who first owned them to carry on in some small way – and in doing so, connecting each of us together.
Today’s estate is especially unique. A former stagecoach inn built in the Town of Meeme, WI in 1847, the stately property houses more decades worth of mementos and memorabilia than I have fingers to count. It is the property of Valeria Sessler, the 92 year old proprietor of Sessler’s Meeme House, who passed away in June after having run the business for nearly 60 years.
She and her husband John had purchased the property from her parents, who had also operated it as a bar. In all, her family had owned the property for over 100 years, having purchased it in 1909. In that time, the spacious tavern and hall had been home to several generations, and had hosted weddings, town meetings, magic shows and plays.
I had the opportunity to meet Val once when I was researching the area with a friend of mine. Having heard of her wealth of knowledge, we had stopped in one day for lunch and a chat. She presided over the historic little barroom and its patrons from her stool. Above her was a photograph of her at 27 –lovely and elegant.
Time had changed her, but had not stripped her of her beauty. Spry and vivacious; even
at ninety the little woman glowed with life. Her mind was sharp, recalling facts and names going back to the early years of her childhood. Surrounded by vintage bar signs, antique furniture and highly collectible glassware; it was this woman who was by far the building’s greatest treasure.
I remember her fondly as I watch the contents of the bar and building being sold off. The auction is well attended and the prices are high. I won’t be buying much, if anything, on this trip. I am not disappointed, though, for as I watch the smiling faces of the people with winning bids as they receive their “new”treasures, I smile too. For out of sadness and loss, it is joy we are choosing to create.