Walking up to the curb, I saw power tools and wooden shelves. New signs, old posters and light fixtures on folding tables. “CONTRACTOR’S SPECIAL” a cardboard box boasted in hand written letters. I peered inside. Light switches—lots of them. A man picked up the box and carried it away. I decided to keep moving, up, up the driveway, past the table saw, past the chipped mirror and into the garage. This was, according to the poster board taped to a light pole a couple blocks back, a garage sale after all.
Earlier in the week, there had been rain, lots of it—the kind that floods parking lots, slows traffic and gives the local newspapers a little more to talk about. But the skies were clear now, and it all seemed like a distant memory as I ventured deeper into the sale.
Like many houses in San Francisco, the garage and the basement were one and the same. I stepped inside. Sockets. Screwdrivers. Overalls. Five-gallon buckets filled with everything from heavy chains to gardening gloves. The place was in a state of complete disarray, probably picked through by poachers prior to my arrival. It was Sunday afternoon, and things were winding down. I kept to myself. Nope, not looking for anything, just brows…
And then I saw something familiar—a toolbox that was piled up with a bunch of other toolboxes. What drew me in wasn’t the rusty metal box itself; it was a sticker on its lid. Even beneath the dirt and grime, I could make out a sparkly old Meguiars shield logo. I knew it from the flanks of Jim “Fireball” Shores’ candy red Anglia and Skip Hess’ “Revell Kit” Mustang Gasser—both cars were absolute showpieces in the late-’60s. I knelt down next to it, swept the socket set off the top and got a closer look.
There wasn’t just the one; there were about a dozen of decals from the ’60s and ’70s plastered on its exterior. There were the staples like Champion and Holley, and then there were my favorites—the original Roth Studios waterslides. The classic “Chevys Kill Fords—I’d rather eat worms than ride in a Ford,” and the no-nonsense “327 Hi-Performance.” These were decals I’d seen pictures of in books, magazines and on car windows though the years, but never out in the wild! Some were flaking, while others remained amazingly intact. I studied them—not too closely. I had to keep my cool.
“How much for the old toolbox?” I asked the woman running the sale.
“Is there anything in it?” she replied.
“No, there isn’t.”
“How about $5?”
“You’ve got yourself a deal.”
“Why don’t you fill it up?”
I set the toolbox by the workbench as I continued to wander around the garage. As I did, the woman looked longingly at the steel blue Craftsman and said, “There was a lot of blood, sweat and tears happening when this was being used.” And then she smiled.
If this old toolbox could talk, I can only imagine the stories it would tell.
Note: Can anyone identify the Roth decal in the last picture? There’s not much of it left…