Now it can be told. Spring of 1999 was the most successful garage-sale season of the millennium, barring only the sacking of Rome by the Vandals, perhaps, and that can't strictly qualify as a garage sale because the Romans parked their horses in stables.
How has Reader Exchange gleaned this historical tidbit? Elementary. Our mail requesting instructions for everything from diesel carpet sweepers to battery-powered ice-sculpture tools has reached a fever pitch. Therefore, since it is an unwritten law that no item possessing instructions may be sold at a garage sale, and since letters seeking missing instruction have been pouring into the office, we deduce that a boom exists in that segment of the economy.
We have examples galore. Take, for example, the case of Mildred Gardner of St. Petersburg, who several months ago attended a yard sale and purchased a sewing machine.
Here's a twist: The instruction book was actually included with the portable Elgin "Triple-Lock Stretch Stitch" machine, model S-1145, but the book mentioned missing feet and pattern cams for embroidery sewing. (For the uninitiated, we simply add that these terms are sewing machine talk and that, if you don't know what they mean, you aren't going to be much help here.) Mildred asks your assistance in locating these attachments or finding a place where they may be available for sale. Please contact her at (727) 821-8815.
Or consider the plight of Louise Glover of Clearwater, who purchased a Ronco 5 tray dehydrator, which was missing the instructions and the recipe booklet it should have come with. Not many people are able to just leap into dehydration without guidance, so Louise is hoping you have a hydrator like hers and will permit her to copy your paperwork. She is awaiting your call at (727) 535-2533.
Now hear this: Rose Marie Inghilleri of Spring Hill is the owner of a Healthmaster 750 Dual Action exercise bike. (The bike has a Roadmaster Corp. label on it.) She would like to use it properly but cannot because she has no manual. If you have a manual Rose Marie may copy, or you can tell her where she may purchase a manual, please call her at (352) 686-1060.
Doris Crowell of Gulfport hopes you can help her locate a product she has heard about but is unable to find, new product called Eucalan that permits successful washing of silk. Doris has called fabric and quilt shops to see if they carry it, but so far none has. If you know where to find it, please give a call to (727) 384-4859. Doris and her treasured silk blouses will thank you heartily.
Loretta Denton of St. Petersburg was given an organ keyboard, and she wants to teach herself and her grandchildren to play it, but to do so she needs music books. Loretta used to see books for beginners that struck her as easy to understand. They had corresponding numbers above the letters. If you have this kind of music, Loretta would appreciate being able to photocopy it. She is waiting to hear from you at (727) 527-4853.
Richard Toummia of Clearwater has a number of tapes he would like to transfer from Beta to VHS format. He would like to borrow your Beta VCR if you are agreeable. He may be reached at (727) 447-0487.
G. Jennings of Elfers wishes to locate a book, When the Lion Feeds, by Wilbur Smith, preferably in paperback in good condition. Please send your responses in care of this column.
Margaret Harris of Palm Harbor, who is interested in making smocking, has a new home for your Pullen Pleater. She will gladly trade sewing for pleater. Margaret may be reached at (727) 784-4297.
Send questions, answers and tips to Reader Exchange, Home & Garden, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg 33731. Only questions of general interest will be answered. Requests accepted only by mail; no phoned requests. Except in unusual circumstances, readers must agree to publication of phone numbers (include area code) to be considered for the column.