6:30 PM and I'm in line at the Christ Church Rummage sale. It doesn't start until 7:00 PM, fortunately it's a warm night, and although I'm half an hour early, by the standards of this rummage sale I'm already late, there are about 30 people ahead of me, not a line, strictly, more of mass of people who've read the papers, seen the signs and are here, like me, to find some treasures.

I recognize a few of the Hillhurst flea market dealers, there's the Camera guy and his brother, another vendor with a stall of antiques, a couple of other dealers I recognize but can't place, a few die-hard garage salers and about a dozen strangers. 

I'm here in hopes of a big score, perhaps a fine vintage watch, this rummage sale is one of three big ones that are held semi-annually throughout Calgary that attract crowds. The Samaritan Rummage sale in Hillhurst is a huge one, twice a year creating lineups of over 300 people. The Scarborough Church one is another, perhaps creating lines of 100. And half an hour early on a Friday night the line is growing behind me, up the hill, down the street, as more dealers and thrifters come and join the crowd.

People stamp their feet to keep warm, grandmas slowly edge their way forward into the line, when the doors open at 7:00 there will be a full-court press to get through the doors, each person to the room where their own objects of desire may be sold, my first hit will be the treasure room, down the hall and to the back, to quickly peruse the jewellry and search for men's watches. Camera guy and the antique dealer will be going there as well, but if I hustle I might beat them. From there a quick gad-about to see what else there might be, look at the pictures, the collectables, maybe some antique candlesticks, having moved into a new place a few months ago I find there's still things I'm missing, ...

The important thing is to be open...most often you won't find what you're looking for, but if you keep your eyes peeled, you just might find something better....

Volunteers for the church show up, one, two at a time, have to press through the crowd, knock on the door, give the password and then get admitted. The crowd gets a bit unruly, thinking these people are butting into line, worrying that they might get first dibs on treasures they want, some of the more vocal take advantage of the open door to plead their case, they want in out of the cold, they have other committments....

The volunteers have heard it all before. No one gets in early.

Finally it's 7:00, the crowd parts just enough to allow the doors to open, the volunteers back away from the tide that forces itself through, 4-5-6 abreast, into the church. It's a miracle none are trampled. God was never so popular as when he held a rummage sale.

When I get in I make my way first to the back room, already the old harridans and babushkas have the jewellry staked, I'm lucky, I recognise a thrifter in place at the table who passes me a box full of watches. A quick pick through, find those of interest, pass the box to my left, the antiques dealer got distracted on his way in and so loses out.....but I'll let him pick through and discover that....I scan the jewellry table for anything else of interest, and then on to the next area. If you're undecided you grab first, make up your mind later. Should you take a moment to appraise an item of interest chances are high someone will grab it from under your nose. Hold it while you make up your mind.

I'm out in half an hour, it gets claustrophobic this, the elbows flying, the swell and crush of people at the tables, and I've found my share of the treasures - an antique wooden toybox, $5.00, an antique pressed-glass lampshade - $2.00, 3 watches for a dollar each, none of any great merit, but for a dollar each I couldn't leave them behind. All in all, not a bad haul.