However, we soldiered on, most of us in four wheel drive, collected all the auction donations and spent the afternoon laying out the tables, setting up the dessert station and worrying. It was also enormous fun to see everything we had to auction. The big items we had used on the publicity posters -- we had a Peterborough cedar boat, a time share, an antique clock, beautifully handcrafted bowls, artwork, and other very generous donations, a tandem truck load of gravel, for instance. (In the hinterland, this is big. Our household, for one, tractors that much gravel every year or so to patch the laneway, the apron in front of the barn and the worst potholes in the saw yard and landing.) But when the small stuff came out of the bags, it was fascinating. Pashimi scarves, beautiful Christmas decorations, lots of gift certificates (one for haircuts, of which more later) and not least, the gorgeous red purse from Damier Leather.
The hall looked spectacular. We were lucky enough to have a local pancake restaurant, Temples, (On the Fergusson Falls Road, for those of you in this area) donate the use of their building. It is brand new, post and beam construction, and really beautiful. A fire was burning in the big stone fireplace at the far end, the staff loaned us cream tablecloths and the whole room glowed.
We were due to start at 7:00 pm, but shortly after 6:00 pm the doors opened and people started arriving, wanting time to look the tables over. By 6:30 they were streaming in and I was torn between tears of thankful joy and terror lest we run out of dessert. One of the team offered to donate all of her already done Christmas baking (now that's organized!) and after frantic phoning I managed to get a driver to collect some pies I had forgotten to pick up earlier. (They fetched $16.00 each!) By 7:10 we had three workers on the dessert table serving, and there was barely room to move around in the hall.
The auction was a mix of live and silent bidding. Our auctioneer, Charlie Hollinger, is an elderly and highly skilled professional, now retired, who generously helped us. We planned three short sessions of live bidding and had twelve silent auction tables, which we closed serially throughout the evening. In this kind of silent auction, you announce the imminent closing and people rush around, trying to be the lowest closing bid. When the table with Danier's purse closed, there must have been half a dozen women hovering beside the bid sheet. Into this crowd sailed our mayor, a large and jovial man with a considerable fundament, who simply cut a swath through the ladies like a tanker among pleasure craft and got the winning bid.
Most couples had one bid number between them but I had picked up my own before the crowd arrived and JG got one of his own when he got in. Now JG can get a bit carried away at an auction, especially when people keep buying him glasses of wine. True to form he got the winning bid on a 3' long stuffed moose, which he plans to give to Little Stuff as her Christmas present. He also got the load of gravel, and numerous other items. We had a lot of gift certificates to auction, one of which was for haircuts from the barber who cuts JG's hair. I decided to bid on that. I checked back at intervals and found that someone had always bid after me. About the third time this happened, I took a close look at the handwriting -- JG was trained as a draftsman, and makes a very distinctive number 4 and 8. I rushed over and asked him what his bidding number was and, sure enough, I was bidding against him. He is going to have some pretty expensive haircuts.
It wasn't just JG and the mayor who were spending generously. By the time we closed, we knew we had done well and when the poor beleaguered staff got the money counted Friday morning, we had approximately $10,000, not counting straight donations, of which there were several. One of our new Board members phoned me Friday morning and said she was amazed at the warmth and generosity of this community and felt extremely lucky to be living here. And so do I.