My dad has always been on the lookout for a good deal. On this day he took us to a Potluck auction. I don't know if they still have them, or what they're called now.
Basically, a moving/storage company auctions off unclaimed goods. Some of it is typical, like furniture, but the Potluck part is where they sell off big unopened packing boxes that were never picked up. So you have no idea what you're getting. Every bidder dreams of buying a forgotten box with something valuable in it.
I'd never been to an auction before. It was certainly interesting to watch and listen to. Dad bid on a few items that he didn't win. I vividly remember them dragging a large refrigerator out on stage. After the winning bid had been placed they were rolling it off for the new owner to claim, when suddenly the entire door fell off.
My parents spent time looking over the displayed boxes very carefully. Dad was particularly taken with one box. It was unusually heavy for it's size, and all bound up in tape and twine. It was, as best I remember, roughly 2-3 feet on each side. Across the top, in big letters, it said "TBC".
Anyway, at some point 2 guys carried the TBC box out, and the bidding began. Somewhere in there Dad entered the competition, and after a flurry of bidding, he'd won! My sister and I were excited, and cheered. We had no idea what had happened, except that our dad had won. The box cost $14.83 (including tax). I'd guess in today's terms it would be $50-$60.
It was HEAVY. It took both my parents and a guy pushing a dolly to get it out to the car, and I don't remember if the trunk closed all the way. We got home, and with much pushing and shoving got it into the kitchen.
Mom and Dad got out some knives and hacked their way through the heavy wrapping. We were all excited. It contained...
A Telephone Book Collection.
Yes, someone (who apparently needed a life) had collected phone directories from major cities all over the U.S.: Boston, New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, Seattle, Los Angeles, and many others. All neatly stacked in the box.
With quiet disappointment, the box was closed and put in the garage.
I'd forgotten all about it a few weeks later, when it was my birthday party. I had a bunch of friends over. We had the usual cake, presents, and games. And as they were getting ready to go my dad offered each kid... a phone directory.
It's been almost 40 years. I don't remember if any of them took one. Or what finally happened to the box.