The Rooster and the Rat

“There are too many places to go!” Lloyd complained as he looked at the long list he had just completed. He sat at our kitchen table, writing the name of each item that he had purchased that needed to be picked up and the name of each item sold that was awaiting delivery.

“I can’t send Ben on all of these trips. I’ll wear him out, and he is already running the roads hard as it is. Dominic only wants to drive locally, and Chase needs to be home for his daughters,” he explained to me. “Do you feel like going on the road with me?” he asked.

Lloyd had just returned from a purchasing trip to South Carolina at one o’clock in the morning Tuesday. If I don’t go with him, he runs too hard. He won’t stop for anything except diesel for the truck. He won’t slow down long enough to eat, and keeps driving late into the night to get home to me, even though I encourage him to stop by 10 pm and get a hotel for the night. I don’t like it when he drives after he gets tired. I always say,” I would rather you get home tomorrow than not at all.” He rarely listens, though. I know if I go with him, he can knock some stops off of that list, and he won’t run so hard. So, I agreed to go on the road.

The truth is that Lloyd get tired of sitting behind a desk at the warehouse. To him, picking through someone’s old junk is the fun part of his job. If he gets to go away with me for  few days as well, that is just a bonus.

We headed out on Friday afternoon, later than we hoped, because a container needed to be loaded in Hagerstown before we could go. Friday night traffic on 95 South was a bear, and because it was President’s Day weekend, it was worse than usual. We passed the time nibbling on the brownies and nuts that I had packed for snacks and listening to the news stories about the meteor strike in Russia.

We decided to stop for the night in Richmond and continue on the next day. Friday had been beautiful February weather, near 60 degrees, but a cold front moved in overnight and we woke up to snow flakes falling outside of our hotel. Never mind the weather, we got in the truck and headed south. Luckily, the road was merely wet and the snow was only sticking to the grass and the tree branches.

It snowed from Richmond to our destination and continued all day

After driving a couple of hours, we arrived in a small town that is not really on the way to anywhere. Lloyd had been in this place many times over the years and had already taken out all but one of the jukeboxes that had been here. That one remains because it is not for sale.

I’ll call our host “Mr. Jones” instead of revealing his real name because Lloyd has not yet picked all that there is to be had at this place. “Mr. Jones” grew up here and his family name appears everywhere around the town. His father ran a restaurant during “the war”, and that was how his dad began to operate jukeboxes.

As Lloyd and I entered the first of the storage areas in the main building, we saw the remains of the businesses that Mr. Jones’ father used to run. There were old console t.v. sets stacked upon one another, antique radios, and signs for Whirlpool appliances. There were also remains of the home-life of Mr. Jones including baby strollers from the 1960’s. Mr. Jones and I chatted about how different life is now for children than when we were kids. We reminisced about leaving the house after breakfast and not coming home until dinner time, before the days of cell phones and constant contact.

The second room had a large hole in the ceiling, where so much water now comes through that 8 or 9 large buckets had been set on the floor under the hole to catch the water. Water damage to the buildings that Lloyd picks in is a problem that we encounter all the time. I am more surprised when I don’t find it than when I do.

We left the main building and walked across an alley to another building. The main floor of this building was more of a workshop and the upstairs attic area was used for more storage. This was where Lloyd started to get really serious about his search for something good to buy.

He looked inside cabinets.

Searching inside high cabinets for something to buy

Searching inside low cabinets

He searched under workbenches.

On hands and knees, looking under workbenches

Lloyd found some title strips for a jukebox and some old flyers for antique arcade games.

Arcade game flyers

He found a box of jukebox parts, including coin slides. He found 2 Coca-Cola signs.

The photo for this coca-cola sign was taken after we got it back our own warehouse.

Years ago, Lloyd bought about 30 old drive-in movie speakers at this place, and this time he found the last 3 remaining speakers to buy.

He found two old Whirlpool banners.

Whirlpool appliance banners

You can see the corner of one of them in the photo below. There was a rotating multi-colored light projector for a theater screen from the 1920’s or 30’s.  He found some dusty old Pepsi menu boards.

He found an Auto Value clock to buy.

Photo of Auto Value clock after Lloyd unloaded back in Hagerstown

I found some advertising for an old Universal Movie, new in the box and never opened. I thought my daughter would like that and Mr. Jones agreed to sell it for a small amount but then gave it to me for being a patient wife.

Lloyd and I climbed up the stairs into the attic of the workshop. Mr. Jones had to go back to the other building to help a customer, leaving us alone to search the attic.This building was not heated and it wasn’t long before my hands were icy. Lloyd was climbing over piles of things that were long-unused, moving things around, pulling things out from their resting places. Before long he was so warm from exertion that his jacket was coming off.

Climbing over piles to reach a battery storage box

Somewhere nearby, a rooster crowed. Then he crowed again, and again and again. “It’s 2 o’clock in the afternoon! Why is that rooster crowing?” I asked. “Aren’t roosters supposed to crow when the sun comes up?” On and on he went, heard clearly through the openings in the walls of the building.

Back into a corner of the attic Lloyd poked around in his search, but suddenly he jumped back with an exclamation. “I just surprised a rat back down there! A big one!” he told me, holding his hands about a foot apart to show me the size of it. “Oh no! I’m out of here!” I told him and made my way through the attic carefully and then quickly down the stairs.

“Come look at this,” Lloyd called down to me.

“No! That rat might bite!”

“It won’t bite,” he replied.

“How do you know?” I asked. “I bet he has a family up there.”

“No. It won’t bother us. He wants to be as far from me as I want to be from him.” said Lloyd.

My curiosity overcame my concern, and I timidly climbed back up the stairs and through the attic, carefully watching my steps as I went, ready to bolt at the first sign of a hairless tail or beady eyes.

Back in the opposite corner from our rodent encounter were two U-Select candy machines.

Lloyd definitely wanted to take those home, so he dragged them across the wooden floor of the attic and down the stairs.

Down the attic stairs with the U-Select candy machines, one at a time

After a while, Mr. Jones came back. I reported our encounter with our furry friend.

He said, “Oh that was squirrel. They come in through the openings in the walls.”

Lloyd answered, “No, it was not a squirrel.”

“Are you sure it wasn’t a squirrel?” asked Mr. Jones.

“I’m sure. I got a very good look, up close, ” Lloyd assured him.

The results of our treasure hunt were gathered together on the lower floor of the workshop.    Lloyd began to make offers for each item and Mr. Jones made his counter offers. The two found purchase prices that they could agree upon and they loaded up the truck. I went back into the first building where there was heat so that I could warm up. Finally, we said our goodbyes and drove off in search of something to eat. It was 3pm and we had missed lunch.

We debated about where to head next. Staunton? No. Too far. Charlottesville? No. The snow was still falling and we worried that the roads would get slick as the day wore on and temperature dropped. We decided to return to Richmond, back to the same comfortable hotel where we spent the previous night. We would find a snack somewhere on the way to tide us over until dinner.

The next day was cold but clear. No snow remained from the previous day. Nearby lived an old friend and collector that was in the mood to sell. He agreed to meet Lloyd and we met at his home Sunday morning. At the house, Lloyd made a deal to buy a Roman Head slot machine in great condition while I played with a couple of cute pups.

This very nice gentleman asked if we would like to drive to his country home about 45 minutes away to see some other items that Lloyd might want.

We agreed to the plan and followed him there. We arrived at a pretty home built in the 1700’s and completely furnished with antiques. Our friend gave us a tour before taking Lloyd to the outbuildings where some of his collection was stored.

The 1700’s country home

Lloyd made a deal for a 1950s National Candy machine and 3 Arizona shooting gallery games from the 1960s.

Loaded up and ready to go

When we left there, we stopped by a village that was created by a nearby collector. Lloyd had heard about the place and had been wanting to see it, so we drove through to take a peek.

There must be nearly a dozen buildings in the village. I don’t know if the owner of this village built each building or found them and had them moved here. They are covered in antique signs and have antique gas pumps outside and antique cars.

Our truck bed and backseat were full and it was time to head home. Lloyd had managed to get his jeans filthy while picking and loading the truck.

“You are going to change your jeans before we go in to a restaurant for dinner, right?” I asked.

“No, I’m not.” he replied, smiling.

“Really? You could change in a bathroom.”


Dirty jeans!

Seriously, both legs looked this bad and his jacket too! But we had survived on a bag of Doritos and peanuts that I found at a country store that I walked to from the old house that Lloyd was picking at earlier, and dinner at one of our favorite restaurants sounded really good. Lloyd is wonderful, but stubborn, and he was determined to go out as he was. He is not manageable, I always say, and I really like this about him most of the time.

When we arrived at Matchbox, he headed for the side entrance that led directly into the dimly lit bar. “See,” he said, settling onto his stool,” Nobody noticed a thing!” Well, okay then.

As we made our way home for the final leg of our journey, Ben texted Lloyd that the work on his truck cost more than expected. As Lloyd was driving, he asked me to send Ben a text, asking “What did you do to it?”

A moment later, Ben’s response appeared on the phone. “F u” was all it said. Lloyd asked me, “What did he say?” I began to laugh. That didn’t seem like something Ben would send to his dad. Then the rest of the message appeared on the phone and began with the words, “Fuel pump…”  Oh! That makes more sense. For some reason, only part of the message had come through.

Lloyd couldn’t wait to post his finds on his Facebook page as soon as we got home. It was a successful weekend of picking for him and a chance for me to meet a couple of Lloyd’s business acquaintances and spend some time hanging out together.

Why would I spend my Saturday afternoon in a dirty, cold, rat-infested attic with my husband? I think of last winter when he took me to Universal Studios on vacation and he turned green from motion sickness on the rides with me, just because I enjoy amusement parks. I think of the lazy river at Discovery Cove where he took me for a Dolphin Encounter, when he floated along with me, convinced that I was trying to drown him in spite of his flotation vest and noodle, because he couldn’t swim. He does things that make him uncomfortable to make me happy. So, that attic was the least I could do in return. After all, it’s the give and the take that makes it work!

FYI, If anyone wrote a comment to a previous post or emailed me at the Yahoo address, I was unable to read or respond because my blog became flooded with spam, in the thousands. I have had to delete everything until I get a better spam filter set up. If you have something important to tell me, send it to Lloyd through his facebook page for now.



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