DALLAS — This year, the Back Mountain Library Auction featured 70 candles on its birthday cake.
It started as a livestock auction. Then there were the years when people could buy puppies and kittens. Even sheep. Sale items changed as often as hemlines. Now it’s plants and jewelry, crafts and tchochkes. There are basket raffles and book sales. There are food stands now with organic offerings.
But some things are still the same. For one thing, there are still dollars needed to keep the library running and this is still its major fundraiser.
On the last night of this year’s sale, organizers and volunteers still hauled merchandise to the stage and made sure all visitors were welcomed in fine fashion.
There is still the community spirit.
“I can’t say enough about the wonderful volunteers who come out and help us with absolutely every aspect of this, from the committee meetings and the organizing down to getting workers for every task,” said this year’s auction chairman, Gerard Geise.
Keeping with tradition
There is still the incredible piece de resistance that closes the show: the original painting by Dallas artist Sue Hand.
“It’s a wonderful thing to offer each year,” said the auction’s publicity chairperson, Carol Sweeney. “Each painting brings in thousands of dollars and that really helps the library.”
This year’s artwork is the first one that has two auctions in one picture, Hand said. The main color rendering shows a current auction and there is a black-and-white inset, a re-creation of the news photo of the first sale.
It will now hang on a wall of a Hanover Township man who had the winning bid of $3,000.
Like the auction itself, the project involved friends and community. She started with the first drawings on July 4, then worked through the week, sometimes side-by-side with fellow artist, Mike Hiscox, to come up with the final product. Husband, Joe Hand, did the framing.
Two of Hand’s students, Nicole Jacobs and Alexis Lanza, also created paintings to be auctioned off prior to the masterwork. Family came into play here as well. Jacobs’ father bought her painting for $300 and, not to be outdone, Lanza’s grandmother spent the same amount on her granddaughter’s work.
“I guess you could call me a newcomer at this,” Hand said.” “The auction is going for 70 years. This is only my 26th year.”
And there are the “new” traditions.
This year, members of the Dallas American Legion post marched in with flags for a short program honoring those who did serve and still do serve the nation in our military forces. State Sen. Lisa Baker noted that the library itself was dedicated to those men and women who served in World War II and called for a moment of silence to remember their service. And the Wyoming Valley Barbershop Chorus sang the National Anthem.
The final gavel came down at the end of the evening, and all that is left for the final page of the 70-year album is taking down the tents and picking up the last of the garbage.
But, that’s only the latest chapter.
Ready for more
Geise said he’s ready to roll up his sleeves again.
“This is a wonderful demonstration of community coming together to make things happen,” he said. “I have a feeling I’ll chair this again.”
Sweeney said she isn’t ready to put away her phone list or press releases. The Boy Scouts manning the parking lot aren’t ready to move their last traffic cones just yet.
This show must go on.
And it’s partly because Diane Piekanski, of Larksville, just got her first taste of the annual sale on Sunday evenings. And she already wants more.
“For years, my sister has been asking me to come to this, but I always had to work,” Piekanski said. “This year, though, I retired, and finally got a chance to see what it’s all about. And it’s great.”
She and her husband, Stanley pulled up their chairs next to the bleachers in front of the auction site and waited for the sale to begin. But even before that, she bought some table linens in one of the booths behind the library.
“Too bad it’s the last night of this year’s sale,” she said. “Now I can’t wait until next year.”