Curly top goes to yard sales

My curly-topped granddaughter came grinning down the stairs to welcome the day and me. I had arrived after she had gone to sleep.
“Good morning,” I said from my bed on the couch.
She giggled and grinned. “Hi. Ge-ma.”
Her momma followed with a rubber band. “I have to comb her hair at least twice a day.” She sat down and began pulling the bangs up into a Pebble’s topknot.
Quickly the sleepy princess became a little shopper in coordinating brown and pink polka-dotted outfit with pink sneakers.
We were going to a neighborhood garage sale. Signs directed us to the long street with a couple dozen yard sales. The annual event empties the closets, cupboards and garages and provides us with a few hours of entertainment. The only thing they did not have is a public bathroom – a concern for shoppers with a two-year-old.
We stopped at a sale where my daughter found a large Radio Flyer wagon with seats. “I have been wanting my neighbor’s wagon for years,” she said and asked the seller “would you take $15 for it?”
They agreed and Curly-top boarded. Pulling her, we walked down one drive after another, perusing tables filled with toys, clothes, games and electrical gadgets. Curly-top gravitated to the boxes of books. She wanted to buy all of them, to have us read all of them to her, to carry all of them – until she realized she needed to go potty, NOW!
Her mom asked permission for the child to go inside. The owner, a former school teacher, directed them down the hall. Afterward, as her mom looked through the books, Curly Top identified several books and pictures. The former teacher observed, “you must read to her a lot.
“Oh yes. We have lots of books and we read a lot.”
“I can always tell,” the teacher said.
In fact, the worst thing you can do to Curly-Top is to take her books away when she is not behaving. At nap time, when her mother puts the books out of her reach and insists on sleep time, the child sobs, “But, I want to be happy. I want to be happy.”
I did what I could to ensure her future happiness and added a couple more books to her stash. The wagon filled with bags of books, toys and miscellaneous household items. As the morning waned and we still had not reached the end, we found a family selling chips, hot dogs, hamburgers and cookies. Curly Top got a juice box, cheesy chips and a hot dog. I anointed the dog with ketchup. The child sat in her wagon and began eating chips. Cheese quickly covered her fingers, mouth and shirt. Then she began licking the ketchup on her hot dog and taking a few bites as we pulled her down the next drive. Ketchup smears mixed with the cheese powder. Four houses later she needed more drink than her juice box. Somehow she ended up spilling our large mug of flavored drink down her front.
We sighed. Our car was several houses back and we had a couple of sales to go. I left to get the car.
By the time I returned the child not only had a wet, sticky top, but a wet bottom. It was time to pull out the wipes and clean up the child. I found some blue jean shorts and a gray car T-shirt I had picked-up for her cousin. We slid them on the princess. The tag said 2T, but the shorts dragged over her knees and the shirt slumped off her shoulders.
The child looked at the shirt. She giggled and laughed at dressing like her brother. Her mother was mortified. They did not match her pink sneakers, but would suffice until we got home.
At the next house, our street urchin discovered a practically new pair of black patent leather shoes with tiny heels. She didn’t care that they were a couple sizes too large. She loved those things. She slid them on and stamped to make the heels click.
Her mother paid more than she wanted to get the shoes and picked out a feminine short set in the child’s size. “If she is going to wear those shoes, she is not going to dress like a tom-boy,” my daughter declared.
We returned home with enough books to keep her happy for hours and a pair of shoes to ensure we knew that she not only looked like a girl, she walked like one, too.

(Joan Hershberger is a reporter at the News-Times. E-mail her at