We pretty well failed at this weekend’s yard saling extravaganza.

It’s not like we didn’t prepare in advance (or Annie did, anyway, while I yakked on the phone with an old pal for upwards of three hours). She had a fancy route all Googlemapped up and ready to go, incorporating destinations both nearby and exotic. Then we slept in until 9:30, somehow forgot to drink any coffee, and found that we had only six dollars in cash and that it was looking like rain outside. Damp clothing, snippiness, headaches, and pre-ravaged arrays of bric-a-brac was the inevitable result. Too bad, so sad, hopefully the entire world catches on fire and everyone but us dies a horrible death.

But it wasn’t all frowning and tense muttering and squinting unhopefully at boxes of Nora Roberts novels. We still got to stop at a few places, and the morning ended on an unexpectedly high note thanks to a risky visit which we’ll go into in a minute. First, here are the few yard sales that we did stop at, and our scant, resultant booty.

We managed to stop at the first destination on our list (I’m not even gonna bother with designating any of them with letters this time around), and there were a few tables with this and that on them. Nothing really jumped out at us. It was one of those yard sales that had too much Christmas stuff for sale. I hate that. It’s summertime. Nobody wants your embroidered Santa napkin holders. You’re disappointing everyone, even the old ladies. Behind your back, elderly women are scornfully grasping their crotches and hawking mustard-hued loogies onto your pine-scented votives and ceramic snowmen. Put ’em in the basement or chuck ’em. We’re here for your outmoded appliances, retro-chic flatware, dog-eared paperbacks, ridiculous tee-shirts…that type of thing. The minute I see Santa Claus at a yard sale, I want to leave. But I can’t, because sooner or later he turns up at ALL of them. I long for the days when the idea of Santa inspired thrilling wonderment as opposed to fantasies of chaining him to his sleigh and forcing him to watch me soldering elves to reindeer, but what can you do, opinions are like assholes: everyone has one, and they allow nutrient-sapped food to pass through the body into a complex underground waste management system.

Again, they didn’t have much, but it was for some charity thing, so we tried hard to find something to buy, however insignificant, and eventually we came across a table covered in old Dell Yearling paperbacks for kids and preteens. Didn’t find any Beverly Cleary that we wanted, but I managed to come across a couple of classics of that era of kids literature that I felt I should own.

Not in pristine shape, but it feels more comfy to buy books that you know were well-loved. I distinctly remember reading “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” more than once, and I’m glad to know I wasn’t alone in my appreciation for this book, which genuinely helped me to put my own pain-in-the-ass Fudge of a brother in perspective, and you can never read those James Howe books enough times. There are a number of beloved examples of young adult literature that I would love to add to my current library, but I only want them if they’re the actual version that I grew up with. I don’t want the new jazzed-up covers. It’s Dell Yearling and Avon or nothing. By the way, I think that guy in the pickup there thought I was taking a picture of him. It got weird for a second.

PURCHASED: Two kids books: “The Celery Stalks at Midnight” and “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” (.50)

We needed more money, or so we thought, so it was necessary to hit an out-of-the-way ATM. In the future, we will have our cash situation well in hand before embarking. There should be neither dillying nor dallying when you arise to hit the yard sale circuit. Up at 7, shower, coffee, and go. We’ve learned our lesson. En route to the ATM, we happened upon an unscheduled sale, and those are usually the ones where we end up finding the best stuff, so we stopped and checked it out.

Pretty furniture intensive, which made sense as this turned out to be a moving sale. We’re not big on buying large things at yard sales, so this one wasn’t really for us. A lot of chairs, Danielle Steele novels, and religious-themed hangings, but we did find a silly mug that we liked, and we never pass up a silly mug.

Ha ha ha! The cook goes to stir his soup, and what should he find but an improperly euthanized duck! “The World’s Greatest Cook”, indeed! How embarrassing that must be for a chef of his stature! Ha ha ha! Classic! And very reasonably priced!

PURCHASED: “World’s Greatest Cook” mug (.05)

So we went and got twenty bucks out of the machine and then drove back to the Old Town YMCA, where we’d heard tell of a supposedly mammoth yard sale going on. I’m scared of the Y, so this was the first time I’d ever been. Outside on the sidewalk there were a lot of suspiciously new-looking (and, again, holiday-themed, grrrrrrrr…) items in boxes, but thankfully inside there was a roomful of the old musty weird crap we enjoy so much. Closer inspection revealed a greater abundance of golf-oriented merchandise than we ideally would have liked, and the room itself was a bit too cramped and populated to really examine the wares with any thoroughness, but perseverance won out in the end, and we found something to our liking.

A pastel turquoise electric hand mixer from the late 50’s/early 60’s. It has a crack in it, and we had no way of testing it to see if it works (still haven’t done that, actually), but whatever, we like it just the way it is.

PURCHASED: Possibly broken vintage hand mixer (1.00)

Before we take leave of the YMCA for even browner pastures, I have to share with you a picture of the car that we parked beside:

This wasn’t a situation where a demolished car was abandoned in the parking lot. Somebody actually drove this car to the YMCA yard sale, duct-taping the back window (or possibly the door itself) to the car to prevent it from falling off. Safety first! This is actually a fairly flattering shot of this car. There were less forgiving angles that common courtesy (in the form of my exasperated wife) prevented me from capturing on film. I have a feeling that car isn’t going to pass inspection this year, but if it does (or already has), I want the number of that mechanic, if only to get the sticker without hassle. I’m not altogether sure I’d want him working on my car in any capacity, although I can’t help but admire his low-tech spirit.

Next we traveled to the rarely-considered community of Bradley. By this time, a moderate rainfall had fully engaged, enough to ensure that tarpless sellers would be dragging their unsold items back into the house. The yard sale we’d marked on the Google map was still in effect, but there wasn’t a whole lot there, other than a friendly old basset hound (he wasn’t for sale) and a standee of Tom Brady that we didn’t feel inclined to bring into our life. And that was about it for that.

Across the street, what appeared to be a potential yard sale turned out to be just a bunch of shit on a lawn. It happens.


It was raining and nearly noon, so any hope that we’d manage to squeeze in a few more sales was swiftly dashed. We kept on driving through Bradley, as lately we’ve taken to cruising through unfamiliar townships, and kept on through Eddington, Brewer, and then Bangor. Hungry and desperate for coffee, we almost chose to go to a perfectly good diner that we’ve been to many times in the past, but something compelled us to try Judy’s on State Street in Bangor.

We’ve long known of Judy’s, and we had it on good faith from some friends of ours that it’s a good place to get a bite to eat, but we’d never gone inside. Dingy-looking greasy spoons are one of the many shared interests that firmly seal our passionate bond of love and tenderness, but that being said, Judy’s is a hole, and it scared us. Well, no longer. Actually, that’s not true. We’re still totally scared of it. But that’s okay.

I’m afraid I don’t have any pictures of the interior or the food. There’s not a lot of mood-lighting in Judy’s, and the flash would have attracted attention. I didn’t want them to think I was documenting anything for the Department of Health or anything like that. I just wanted to enjoy my breakfast.

And enjoy it I did. The instant we entered the establishment, we were cheerfully greeted by an older lady who was the perfect embodiment of what a waitress at a rundown dive should be. Efficient, upbeat, able to dish out both blue plate specials and sass with equal aplomb. The booths were comfy and well-worn, the tables were formica, the decor wood-paneling and various signs featuring beer advertisements (it soon became clear that there’s generally more drinking than eating at Judy’s) and mildly-upsetting quips (“Shirts and shoes mandatory. Bras and panties optional.”) The menu had plenty of the usual offerings, along with some less typical fare, including a quarter-pounder fried bologna sandwich that I fully intend to tackle in the hopefully near future, but whenever I find myself fortunate enough to be eating in a “breakfast served all day” type of place, it’s well nigh impossible for me not to take advantage of that. You can’t beat breakfast. It’s as simple as that. Bacon, eggs, and toast are cherished pals of mine, and that’s just what I ordered for myself (the very house special advertised on their wonderful sign above). I normally don’t like home fries very much (I’m a hash browns kinda guy), but I guess I just haven’t been eating the right ones, because Judy’s were top notch. I also ordered a blueberry muffin for myself, a move I initially felt might have been overkill, but once I learned they were going to grill it, I became immensely proud of my gluttony.

Annie had a better view of the kitchen area than I did, but evidently our meals were prepared by the toughest-looking men in the greater Bangor area. I myself got to watch a rather desperate looking pair of characters tremblingly negotiate their way through two servings of wiggly yellow pie of some sort. The rest of the clientele were equally colorful. A pair of crusty fellas who went by Rickle and Dick sat at the far end of the bar, getting an early (11:45 AM, to be exact) start on their bender and complaining about this and that. Rickle was taking issue with an outlandishly outfitted clerk he’d encountered at a neighborhood video store, who apparently had holes in his ears “that a poodle coulda jumped through”. He spent a good amount of time on this subject, quite effectively hammering his point home thusly: “You think that’s cool now, but whaddaya do when you’re 65 and they look like your grandmother’s tits?”. Then another crusty guy walked in, looked at Rickle and Dick, and said “Hey look, it’s Mutt and Jeff” to which Rickle replied “Well, now it’s Huey, Dewey, and Louie”. This sort of gruff ribbing seems to be the norm at Judy’s. We were most pleased.

As for the food, it was very good. Diner food, no more no less. Filling, tasty, and cheap. Annie got a steak and cheese omelet that got better with every bite she forced me to eat (she liked it a lot, but was getting full, and didn’t want them to confront her about not cleaning her plate, which I understood). My breakfast was just about perfect, and the grilled muffin made me want to perform cartwheels while singing selections from “The Music Man”. I opted to resign myself to silent rapture. I could have eaten eight of them, no problem.

So if you’re ever in one of the seedier areas of Bangor and you’re wanting to dump some grease down your gullet, Judy’s is the place. It ain’t much to look at, and my Dad informs me that somebody got stabbed there once, but try not to think about that too much. Despite the fact that we obviously didn’t resemble their typical patron, not once were we made to feel uncomfortable or unwanted. The food was brought out in less than five minutes and was immensely satisfying, the service was the best we’ve had in months, and the grimy uncertainty of the atmosphere was precisely what made it so great. We brought our bill up to the front counter when we were done, catching our waitress, who was back to and in the middle of enjoying a platter of chicken fingers, completely off guard. “Oh shit!” she cried when she saw us standing there, and proceeded to complete the transaction.

Needless to say, from now on whenever anyone visits us, we’re going to force them to accompany us to Judy’s. Consider your hands officially tied. After the initial five minutes of panic subside, you’ll be glad you’re there. Trust us.

In closing, here’s a big disgusting pile of cigarette butts we found by our car outside of Judy’s. Enjoy your day!



  1. I was telling Annie that I have patronized “Judy’s”. I can’t diss the food- maybe the atmosphere? But I hadn’t come to expect it to be much different than it was (up the street from ‘Divas’). It is a great place for overhearing headscratching/nauseating conversations!
    Have you ever been to the ‘New Waverly’????

  2. Judy’s always had quite the seedy reputation when I was growing up. Not quite as “yeah, you’re probably gonna get a broken bottle shoved into your face” as the bar located next to the Greyhound station (which I believe is called “The Tavern” in a desperate attempt at some level of class), but still shady just the same. Someone once saw one of the lunchladies walking out of there one time, and for the rest of time, she was “the one from Judy’s,” and therefore the one lunchlady no one messed with.

    Em, have you been to the New Waverly? That place was always an enigma to Bangor kids, too. Is the inside as desperately stuck in 1973 as their sign is?

  3. My friend and I used to be on a mission to leave no Bangor establishment un-visited (we omitted ‘The Tavern’ for safety purposes). We went to the “New Waverly” for grilled cheese, chocolate milk, and a beer. We sat next to a dirty mirror and listened to a drunk woman tell a very long story about how ‘she’d had it with ‘him'”. Good times. I can’t recommend the food. I think it was like two pieces of Wonderbread with Kraft singles or something. Nothing you wouldn’t be much better off/safer making at home. Does that place still exist?

  4. Well, it’s ‘big trash day’ in our neighborhood tonight in Portland (for the last time ever), so if anyone needs any free warped pressboard TV stands or broken ikea booshelves, tonight’s the night to score some great bargains. Emily and I have finally put out two plastic porch chairs so bemossed with fungus that you’d contract something like Stephen King got in ‘Creepshow’ if you ever perched your dainty buttocks upon them. While E&I havn’t begun yardsaling in earnest yet, we do make regular trips to Mardens, which is like a yard sale where everything has the added cachet of nothing being worn or used by unnamed strangers and everything being made by Chinese slave labor. Recently, we bought a coarse martini-emblazoned tablecloth which we have absolutely no use for, five black t-shirts (can never have enough), and a four pack of nearly-expired ‘muscle milk’ as a gift for Sam at Videoport (he said it tasted ‘different’, but hasn’t died yet). We also went to the Salvation Army on Warren Ave. which Emily asserts hasn’t changed its stock sonce she was there 20 years ago (and where I helped McMillan pick up as used couch which he revealed a few days later ‘smelled kind of funny’), and the Goodwill near there where Emily bought me a pristine hardcover copy of Mick Foley’s first autobiography (he has three now), ‘Have a Nice Day’, which I’m about 4/5 through in a day (it’s fabulous, by the way).

  5. Epithalamium says : I absolutely agree with this !

  6. Somehow i missed the point. Probably lost in translation 🙂 Anyway … nice blog to visit.

    cheers, Amidst!

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