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Jun 9th, 2016
The Annunciation Rummage Sale is not any old rummage sale. Like many parts of Annunciation Church and School, it is part of tradition.
The Founders: “I can remember mother sitting at the checkout table,” recalls Leslie Smith, Annunciation 5th Grade Teacher for many years. Mrs. Smith’s mother, Margaret Kennedy, and two of her friends, Lou Peterson and Nora DeGonda, spearheaded the school rummage sales, with Peterson and DeGonda being two of the sale founders.
The work on the sale started every year as soon as school was out and was held in the school gym, all summer long. “The sale was a very social activity,” says parishioner Mary Lockhart. “We would hire neighborhood teenagers to babysit to get away from the kids for an afternoon! It was a very good way for newcomers to meet and get to know one another. This sale helped you to know people, the only really social event for women other than the bridge club or the women’s club.”
Tables were set up all over the gym and the sale was staffed every day, with workers sorting and stacking and selling, everyday, all summer. Items were stored in the school garage and when more merchandise was needed, it was hauled down those long stairs to the gym. On the last day of school, the 7th & 8th graders would form a fire brigade line to move stored items from the school garage to the gym.
Wonderful antiques were at the sale. With Founder Mary Lou Peterson’s estate sale background, she knew the buyers to contact. College students would also be called for bargain purchases. To get into the sale, people would line up from the gym door all the way to Garfield Avenue. Shoppers came from out of state as a tradition to attend the sale. Antique dealers lined up to get to the choice merchandise. Groups were called to early shop. A St. Cloud group came down before the official sale to get clothing for the prisons and other charities. Arriving at 8:00 with large trucks, they’d spend the day. A list of families from the parish who needed items would be contacted for a “private sale.”
At Septemberfest, part of the entertainment would be a fashion show with rummage sale items with great and . . . not so great fashions. Although there was not advertising during the summer, the big sale time was always the one week after school started in the fall. At the end of the school sale, a man would come in and buy it all.
Proceeds earned went to the Altar and Rosary Society, the women’s organization of Annunciation Church. Once school classes were no longer held in the rooms of the church basement, the sales proceeds paid for furnishing the church kitchen, dining room, community room, hospitality room and carpeting.
Sale Evolved Over Time
When Sr. Robert Mary became Annunciation’s Principal, the change was made to have the gym more available to the school and the sale was completed before school began in he fall. Church records show that the sale was moved from the gym to the auditorium in June 1980. That summer included five days of sorting, five days of sale time just for parishioners, followed by a week of public sale.
Neighborhood churches such as Mayflower, St. Luke’s Episcopal, and Mt. Olivet, all had boutiques at their rummage sales. In 1992, parishioner Betty Elsbecker, “borrowed” an idea from Our Lady of Peace and began (Betty’s) Boutique, now set up in a classroom. The Boutique is still a popular and important part of the sale.
In 1995, the management of the sale was transferred to the Annunciation Parent Organization where it became one of the volunteer opportunities for parents and a major fundraiser for the school. Key management after this transfer were former school parents and current parishioners Theresa Orth, Laura Pigozzi and Marilyn Posl, who now manage the stage “antique” area of the sale.
The rummage sale that started decades ago has changed some; it still remains a wonderful opportunity for service and fellowship within our church and school community.
(By Terri Gerdes-Bettin with thanks to Leslie Smith, Helen Weides, Mary Lockhart, and the late, but forever great, Betty Elsbecker)