The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Estate sale offering blasts from the past
By CATHY DYSONAs Tom Johnson has gone through his parents’ estate, he’s decided their habit of never throwing anything away was both a blessing and a curse.
“They had so many things of sentimental value, some things of financial value and a lot of clutter,” he said.
This weekend, people who never met Thomas “Penny” and Verena Johnson—who ran Johnson Auto Parts near Four-Mile Fork from 1965 to 1981—are getting the chance to look over the couple’s collections. The estate sale runs through Sunday, or until everything is gone.
The assortment of household goods included wringer washers and an old refrigerator that was cooled, not by electricity, but with a chunk of ice. There were medicine bottles and poison bottles, bottles that once held Welch’s Grape Juice and had Howdy Doody’s picture on the side, and milk bottles from the former Farmers Creamery in Fredericksburg.
The living room was full of one-of-a-kind Fredericksburg memorabilia, such as calendars from Princess Anne Tire, World War II ration books still in their original folder and old newspapers, most before 1960.
In the wooden buildings out back were six of the classic cars restored by Penny Johnson.
“I’ve been doing this for 24 years, and this is the biggest sale I’ve ever done in terms of how much cool stuff there is,” said Pam Weldon, owner Liberty Park Estate Sales.
She pointed out a souvenir program from a Nov. 22, 1935, homecoming football game at Fredericksburg High School.
“It’s signed by all the players, and it’s from Fredericksburg,” she said. “You’re not gonna find that anywhere else.”
The Johnson home, off State Route 208 in Spotsylvania County, opened Friday for the sale. Every item, from a 1929 Model A Ford pickup to a Remington typewriter in mint condition, already had price tags on it.
Customers started lining up in the rain three hours before the doors opened at 9 a.m. to get first dibs on the merchandise.
Carrie and Donald Delaney drove from Charles County, Md., and were among the early-birds—and big spenders. He made a beeline to the garage to claim the first items: two porcelain Mobilgas signs featuring a red Pegasus.
The smaller sign from 1946 sold for $475, the larger, from 1952, for $1,200, but neither was Delaney’s biggest purchase. That title went to the 1932 Chevrolet sedan that sold for $17,000.
The Delaneys bought the old car as an investment and the smaller items, such as a metal Washington Post paper tube, for sentimental reasons.
He’s a carrier for the Post, and she’s not into modern merchandise.
“I prefer things my neighbors are not going to have, and that’s usually the older stuff,” she said.
She’s not the only one who had an eye for all things vintage. Kat Parker, 26, who works for Liberty, said women younger than she were the first to scour the racks of 1940s-era women’s clothes.
“They took everything,” she said. “It’s amazing how many young girls my age love this stuff. Fashion comes back, I guess.”
Parker believes some of the shoppers will sell the vintage clothing to other antique dealers. If there’s anything left when the sale ends—and she and other staff members get a chance to buy—she’ll add to her collection, which she also sells privately.
“It’s a huge, huge market right now,” she said.
Lynn Harris of Stafford, who bought a never-been-used washboard and various holiday items, said walking through the Johnson house was a trip down memory lane. She saw a Kenner Give-A-Show projector, the same kind she had as a kid, as well as items she’d never seen before—round cardboard chips that were given as change from ration tickets.
“This sale had a wonderful amount of old memorabilia,” Harris said, “things you do not find at all.”
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
ABOUT THE SALE
The estate sale at the former home of Thomas “Penny” and Verena Johnson, is scheduled through 4 p.m. Sunday. Whatever is left is marked down by 25 percent on Saturday and 50 percent on Sunday.
The home is at 10610 Rollingwood Drive, off State Route 208. People can park in the lot of Eastland United Methodist Church on Saturday and after 1 p.m. on Sunday.
More information and photos of the items available can be seen at estatesales.net/estate-sales/302685.aspx.
NOT FOR SALE
Thomas “Penny” Johnson died in 1984, and his widow, Verena Carter Johnson, died Dec. 4, 2011. She was 92.
Since her death, her son, Tom, has spent at least four days a week, going through the couple’s belongings in their Spotsylvania County house. He was surprised to find a gold ring with a -carat diamond setting in a jewelry box.
With the ring was a note from his mother, who said the ring belonged to her Grandmother Carnohan. She chronicled how it had been passed through the family until 1978, when she inherited it.
“The last line of instructions was, ‘Please take good care of this,’” Tom Johnson said.
He and his two sisters plan a family meeting to decide who in their generation—and the next, and the next—will get the ring so it will remain in the family.