Our Town – February 28, 2013

The Soupster observes serious business at the White E

The Soupster observes serious business at the White E

Originally published April 10, 2008

At 6 p.m. Monday I was standing in line behind Secondhand Rose, Soupster and a dozen other regulars at the Church of the White Elephant waiting for it to open. We were singing “Praise be to the ladies of the White E, Jan and the holy clan, Lori of the hallowed window and Jeannie of the Monday ministry.”

Well it is not really a church but it does border on a religious experience to many regulars in Our Town.

One of the stalwart volunteers came around the corner with an armload of free books. She told me they have about 75 volunteers with an accumulated age of just over 64,000 years. Each one has a specialty such as pajamas, jewelry, t-shirts, men’s boxers, Barbie dolls, books, front window display, and so on.

“The good gentleman that tests the electronic donations is prematurely gray. He had some bad luck working on home appliances rewired by an amateur. Now we call him Sparky. And did you know that this place has been in business for over 50 years now and all the proceeds go back into Our Town?”

“Yes, Soupster told me that. Just what kind of donations have you been getting lately?” I asked.

“Well last week I found 11 cents in the watch pocket of a pair of levis, a moose hip bone, an African Masaii necklace, a Lionel Hampton T-shirt, a souvenir spoon from Toledo, a wig, and a half a loaf of bread. When folks are making a run to catch the ferry we get everything that won’t fit in the trunk. A coffee pot was donated with a little coffee and the grounds were still warm and a roaster complete with turkey bones.

“One of the boxes was like an archeological dig. The top layer was a big, frumpy housedress, followed by big men’s T-shirts and blue jeans, under that was a layer of toddler clothes and then baby clothes and then maternity clothes and on the bottom a size 6, red fringed, shimmery, sequined, strapless dress, high heeled shoes and frilly under things. It is fun to speculate on the history of some donations.”

“Does the really nice stuff get snapped right up?” I asked.

“Not necessarily. If it is too glam or razzle dazzle for Our Town or too big to fit in small spaces or has only a decorative use it can hang around a long time. But they are the most fun to put on display. The Xtra Tufs last about a minute,” The informative volunteer offered.

“I hear you can sometimes get original Gucci bags, Waterford crystal, White Stag sweaters, and leather biker pants for ten cents on the dollar.”

“Oh, those are rare but it happens. Dumpster diving is the only place you can get things cheaper. Are you looking for anything in particular tonight?” she asked.

Oh, I have a list of things; a piece of fake fur, a teapot and a helmet.”

“You shouldn’t have a problem finding those.Do you need a yarmulke? One came in yesterday.”

The doors were opening so we couldn’t talk unless I wanted to be trampled. This was serious business.

– Submitted by Rose Manning


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