Although I’m a big lover of estate sales, this is the best example I’ve seen of Estate Sale Gone Wrong:
Before I saw this box of 1960s feminine napkins (No pins! No belts!) in a basement on Friday, the most baffling personal hygiene item I’d seen for sale at an estate sale was an opened box of Depends pads. But those seem downright logical compared to this box of pads in the cellar.
I’ve talked to a few people about this find and they all claim there are people out there who collect old product boxes. Hmm… I guess people do collect old food containers, tins and boxes. But I have yet to hear of anyone who collects old feminine napkin and tampon boxes.
It’s a collection that would be odd to see in someone’s house. Perhaps on display in glass cabinets or lined up on shelves with track lights trained on them? Imagine going over to a friend’s house for dinner and, before they serve up the lasagne, they want to show you their collection, a Walk Down Menses Lane.
“See this here? This is a handsewn pad from the 1860s. That’s Civil War time! They used to take them down to the river in metal buckets and beat them on the rocks to get them clean. Had to keep a lid on the bucket so bears wouldn’t get wind of them… Then we move forward in time to these pads from the 1930s that actually had belts toÂ keep them in place. No adhesives yet, that’s why. We can thank World War II for that. And then here’s my latest addition, found this at an estate sale this past weekend. The first pads with no pins or belts required. I only paid 50 cents for this, can you believe it?”
Naturally, the box of pads raised many questions in my mind. Here are but a few:
1. If you are going to sell the box because it’s an old box someone might collect, could you or should you throw away the pads inside? When I moved the box over into a patch of sunlight to get a better photo of it, a pad went flying out. By the way, they didn’t scrimp on the layers of padding back then. It was a cotton brick. [Yes, the box says they are flushable but only if you never want to flush your toilet again.)
2. If something is only going to garner you 50 cents, and it’s that strange, should you just toss it out?
3. Is this a failure on the part of the estate sale company to protect the image of the woman who had recently moved out? There were neighbors of hers in the house, looking at her stuff. She had recently moved to a nursing home, so it’s not as if she’s on vacation and will be back any day – the likelihood of her seeing these people again is slim. But somehow it seems as if the sale clerks were allowing a little secret of hers to be let out that could easily have been obscured by tossing the box in the garbage.Â Why she held on to it in the first place is anyone’s guess but it’s not fair to leave it there for the neighbors to see, possibly sealing her legacy as the The Sanitary Napkin Hoarder.
4. Would anyone buy this who was not a collector but because it’s utilitarian? For example, a female friend could be over to watch a movie and say, “Oh, shoot, I just got my period and I don’t have a tampon along. Could you…?” And you could say, “I bought a box of extras just for this very scenario,” and hand her the cotton brick to place between her legs? [I seriously hadn’t seen pads this big since a trip to Italy two years ago and over there I just figured that it had something to do with Catholicism.]
In answer to my own question #4, the answer would probably be, “Yes.” I’ve seen people carting out other products from estate sales. A top seller is laundry detergent. I don’t know if it’s considered a pricey item at the grocery store but there are many old women only too happy to swoop into an estate sale and buy open containers of detergent. Same holds true for wood polish. This doesn’t necessarily strike me as wrong (someone should use it up, I guess), but if we draw conclusions from this fact, I’d say there might be some takers for the pads.
By the way, for what it’s worth, I did wait for everyone else down in the basement with me to leave before I took the photo. I figured that maybe the only thing more strange than being the person who buys the box of old pads is the person who just takes a photo of them. I had to wait quite a while for a couple to decide they were not going to purchase the hand ringer washer (!) and leave the basement. More proof, I guess, that you can sell just about anything.