Saturday, September 12, 2009

A Once-In-A-Lifetime Auction


I'm finally coming up for air after what seems like an eternity of work. Do you know when you're a work addict? A couple of things will give you away...
-You don't feel like you've been fully constructive with your time if you haven't worked past midnight for several weeks in a row.
-When you have a few moments free, you don't know what to do with yourself.

So there you have it readers, the writer of this blog is a workaholic who is lucky to have an occasional hiatus to pound out Laura's journey in the most nouveau of bites (remember nouveau cuisine from the 80's?).

Construction-wise, the ceilings of the Laura Hawkins house are being replaced totally. The cracks, water stains and large chunks that have been littering the floors demand this. So we're having the ceiling plaster removed and replaced with dry wall and then smooth plastered over, the old-fashioned way. But this is not what this blog post will be about.

I'm switching from posting construction-related stuff for now and treating you to eye-candy. I'm going to show you the furnishings for the innards of this old lady.
First, I'll take you back to last summer when the contents of the Becky Thatcher House were being auctioned off.

The Becky Thatcher House, girlhood home of Laura Hawkins.
The house is located at 211 Hill Street
right across from Mark Twain's boyhood home.

Mark Twain's boyhood home,
located on 208 Hill Street in Hannibal.

The interior of the Becky Thatcher house before the 2008 auction.

In August of 2008, Hannibal was the scene of an auction of the contents of the historic Becky Thatcher house. This was done to make way for a million dollar restoration. Oh, few if any items were original to the house when Laura lived there as a child. Most of the antiques were staging props used to make the house look like it might have back in the mid-1800's (Laura's day).
Nevertheless, Becky Thatcher house items are a real draw for us history buffs and folks wanting to restore a similar house.

The widely-advertised auction held at Hannibal's Quality Inn drew a crowd of locals and out-of-towners alike. I noticed a few familiar faces, such as Henry Sweets (curator of the Mark Twain Museum), Wesley Knapp (new Director of Downtown Development), Barbara Errako Taylor (local artist and author), Candace Klemann (President of the Hannibal Arts Council), other civic leaders and some merchants who would later resell their winnings.

Members of the crowd position themselves.

One fun part of course is the pre-auction perusal.

Even these props were being sold.
This Becky Thatcher mannequin has a very mid-century
(20th, not 19th) look about it. I'm so glad it's out of that house.

That goes double for this prop, supposedly Becky's mother.

This adorable hand-carved baby bed went for a mere $235.
I passed on it opting instead for items representing
Laura's later years as a child and woman in Hannibal.

The auction begins...

I'm a regular at auctions, and when I want something badly, I will keep my head down and continue raising my arm to display my assigned number. Other bidders realize I will get that item no matter what. Sitting in the back of the room and jumping in just as everyone thinks the bidding war is over is also great tactic for throwing off the competition.
Of the two things I bid on and got, this is one of them - a hand-carved youth bed from the early 1800's. Laura Hawkins would have slept in something similar as a child. I won it for $230.

See the rocking chair on the left?
This is a hand-carved rush seat rocking chair circa 1835.
This too will go into the Laura Hawkins house.
Here is the other item - a pier mirror, circa 1875. I got it for $400.

Here's the glorious crown on that pier mirror.
Items went for amazing prices with folks "stealing" deals left and right. In looking back, I wish I'd have bid on more items, but you know what? These are props, albeit nice antique props, and we all know where the best deals for these are.
That's right, good ol' eBay.
For my next post (and I promise it will come very shortly), I'll show you some of the furnishings going into the Laura Hawkins house, compliments of this very popular auction site.
So long for now...

Amish folks are regular visitors and this group visited our town
during the auction, right after the flood of 2008 subsided.
Here they are riding the Hannibal horse-powered "trolley".
In the background is the Mark Twain Hotel
(now a restored subsidized apartment for seniors)
with the open lot about to be infilled by a new theatre.

See the sandbags on the levee in the above photo? The flood had subsided from its peak in June 2008 and the levee gates were left open.
For your entertainment, here's a video by Richard Boggs that I discovered on U-Tube about the flood in Hannibal during this period. The haunting background song is "When the Levee Breaks" performed by A Perfect Circle: