From field trips to long-lasting friendships: The stories behind Crown Hill’s 6th Annual Garage Sale

Families, friends and even dogs gathered onto the streets of Crown Hill for the 6th Annual Garage Sale on July 28, where over 50 households filled their front yards with antique furnishings, old clothes and a variety of odds and ends.

While most of the residents were looking to clean house and get rid of outgrown items, a few people set out with another goal.

Caroline Thompson has been participating in the Crown Hill event the past four years to make room to rearrange her house. But this was also a chance for her to display her quilting skills, a hobby she has enjoyed for the last 15 years.

Though she sells more quilts at the craft fairs she attends than at garage sales, Thompson still hung her projects across her front porch.

“It’s really nice when a kid walks away with a quilt or a pillow case and it’s really fun,” Thompson said.

Among her knitted accessories, Thompson was trying to sell her 13-year-old daughter’s clothes and books to help her raise money for a class trip to Washington, D.C.

Thompson’s daughter was pulled away at the last moment due to a birthday party invite, but the money she raised selling her personal items will go to help her daughter raise $250 towards the trip.

“We wanted her to earn part of the way so it wasn’t just ‘Give me the money, Mom and Dad!’” Thompson said.

A few blocks down from the Thompson family, resides the Stinsons, Meredith and Graham. With things left for them by their neighbors, their church and anonymous donors, their garage sale featured items from eight or nine households in total.

Meredith Stinson said she’s attended and shopped every year since the garage sale event started, but this is only the second time her family has participated.

This garage sale was important, specifically, because her and her family are trying to help a friend who is planning to adopt a child from Eastern Europe. Looking to raise $25,000, Stinson decided to donate any money she raised from the sale to her friend.

While Stinson’s main reason for participating was toward a special cause, she said it was also because she loves the community she lives in.

“We love Crown Hill; we love the neighborhood,” Stinson said. “And we wanted to support the garage sale.”

Her pieces ranged from 10-cent gift bags to mid-century modern chairs, and even a $50-dollar silverware set she had received as a wedding gift.

“We used it once,” she said. “It’s hard to clean, but it’s a really fun vintage piece.”

Stinson’s uncle had brought it back from Thailand for her parents’ wedding gift before it was passed on to her and her husband.

“There are four layers of silverware,” Stinson said of the wooden-boxed set. “Some of which I don’t even know what it’s used for. It’s just a really fun piece.”

Off a main street in Crown Hill, a block community consisting of eight sociable families set out antique armoires, small knick knacks and even a featured a vintage children’s personal ice-cream maker in perfect working condition, selling for only one dollar.

But to some of the residents who have lived on this block for more than 20 years, the annual Crown Hill Garage Sale meant a typical hang out — sitting with good company and chatting with new and familiar buyers while the children sold flavored shaved ice and cookies.

“Basically, we like the camaraderie,” said Emily Mabus, a resident of the block for 22 years. “And you meet amazing people.”

Mabus recalled meeting an elderly couple one year who bought a pair of training wheels from her. When she asked who they were for, the man said it was to teach his 50 year-old wife how to ride a bike.

However, one of the most interesting characters Mabus met while living in Crown Hill was Betty Mulholland — to those on the block, she was Grandma Betty.

“She would sit on her front porch and smoke and we would say hi,” Mabus said. “Ultimately, we would all hang out over there.”

Grandma Betty first moved into the house with her parents in 1948. Now, Merrilee Mulholland, Betty’s granddaughter owns the house with her family. Mulholland is the youngest homeowner in age on the block, but with four generations of her family having lived in that house, she is considered the oldest neighbor.

It’s said that Grandma Betty was part of the reason this block became so close. The front porch became a spot to meet all the neighbors. Some even got to watch Merrilee Mulholland grow up in the house she now owns.

“[Grandma used to go to all the local pubs,” Mabus said. “She was a Crown Hill-Ballardite since always. You would never find a more loving and kind and sharp-tongued woman. She’s just a character and just a real gem.”

From homemakers to chefs to lawyers, this collective tight-knit group now meets for impromptu get-togethers, fire-pit chats and white elephant gift exchanges throughout the year. And the Crown Hill Garage Sale is only another way for this community to get closer.

“I don’t know if it’s because we have a unique group of people or we just make the time for it,” Mulholland said. “I don’t know what the common thing is … It’s just so fun to come home and see everybody. We have fun.”

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