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Here's a dollar for that old memory

Susan Miles stood in the driveway, her hair pulled back from her face, trading memories for a quarter, maybe a dollar, apiece.

Earrings. Beer mugs. An untouched pat of purple eye shadow. Step right up, folks. Souvenirs of a life for sale.

"I'm a sentimentalist," Miles said, patting her heart. But to lighten her load enough to move in with her boyfriend, David Hayes, she decided she must shed some of it.

Perfume bottles. Shoes. A tie-dyed dress. All up for grabs.

"Will you take a dollar for this?" a woman asked, and she left with a shirt.

Miles spent Saturday stuffing bills into one pocket of her denim shorts and making change with coins kept in the other. She was one of dozens of driveway vendors peddling years' worth of stuff at the Riviera Bay neighborhood's annual garage sale.

By 10 a.m. Saturday, the neighborhood's streets had become a tangled web of clogged asphalt arteries. Lawns pulsed with people eyeing used toasters, half-empty jars of spices, outgrown baby clothes and board games in beat-up boxes.

The crowd was eager. Perhaps a bit too eager for Miles.

"That Dylan book, I was going to give my brother," she said, watching a volume of the songwriter's verses and drawings leave in a pair of strange hands. "I've been saving it for years. Why didn't I ever mail it to him?"

Davey, one of her boyfriend's sons, was all business. Miles accepted a quarter on his behalf as a woman left with a plastic bag of toy cars. Was he sad to see his playthings go?

No way. He happily pocketed the two bits.

A slim, rose-colored book sat on a table in the driveway. It was called Those Who Love and contained 61 pages of Sara Teasdale's poetry.

"Life has loveliness to sell," read a poem called Barter. "Spend all you have for loveliness, buy it and never consider the cost."

Inside the cover was a woman's name and a list of crossed-out addresses. They chronicled the moves of Miles' best friend.

"Oh, is that Gail's?" she asked. "Boy, there's a history here."

A few streets over, Danny and Sheryl Spencer were recalling the garage sale that netted them thousands.

"We sold a car," Mr. Spencer said. Six years ago, someone bought the platinum 1987 BMW on impulse.

"He gave us a $1,000 deposit," Mrs. Spencer noted. "We didn't give him his car until Monday."

The Spencers were selling another Beemer _ a black 1986 _ for $4,500 over the weekend.

"We sell a lot every year," Mrs. Spencer said. Their driveway on Second Street N was packed with bikes, a baby stroller and a mountain of toys. Matthew, 3{, was an ardent pitchman for the things he had outgrown.

"Look at this!" he said, holding up a puzzle for Dale Cusumano to inspect.

Cusumano is expecting a baby in June and was delighted to find the trove of off-price baby things.

"This is my first stop," she said. "I'm riding by to see if I see kids' stuff."

Over on 92nd Avenue N, Nancy Vittone was trying to unload an old family friend. The shabby rust recliner that heats up and vibrates was in her parents' house when they bought it more than a decade ago.

She was asking $20.

"It's a classic," she said. "We want it to go to a good home. All my fillings are loose from sitting on it."

She was hawking her things from sister Lynne Breda's driveway. Breda said she and roommate Donna Remsnyder viewed the sale as more of a social event than an avenue to piles of cash.

"You're not in it to pay the rent," Breda said. "You're in it to have fun. You have to have a good sense of humor because people will fight over five cents."

Saturday morning, the three women were selling pastries and coffee to shoppers. By Sunday, they had lugged out a cooler of soft drinks and were grilling hot dogs, too.

The chair was still there. It was off the market.

"It's going home, poor thing," Vittone said. "Somebody's got to want it. It's so old and so ugly I just had to have it."

Remsnyder was incredulous.

"I couldn't believe it," she said. "She fell in love with it."

Breda and Remsnyder's house is across the street and down a bit from the house where Miles and Hayes were selling their goods.

"This is a fabulous neighborhood," Miles said. By Sunday morning, she estimated she had pocketed more than $125.

"We're exhausted today," she said. Sunday morning's crowd was a trickle compared to Saturday's stampede.

During the Saturday rush, an empty spot appeared on the corner of one of the tables. It was the spot where the book of poems had been. The book whose cover told the story of a dear friend's moves and included the address of the apartment the two women had shared.

Miles would not accept a quarter for the book, or even a dollar.

Like Vittone's chair, it was taken off the block. Snatched from sight and tucked away.

It was not for sale after all.

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