Valerie and I were together on a Labor Day rescue mission. We knew before getting to the door that the pickers would be frenzied inside. 50% off all items in a thrift store drives them wild, like a pack of prey animals. Even the cars were spilling out onto the sharply broken cement sidewalk; we were turned back from the painted-line spaces by a hatchback trying to carry off a too¬-big armoire. Retreating, we hid the car safely on the outyard by the side street.
The art was hung from floor to roof near the back of the store, and twice as much more was stacked at the bottom of the metal racks. Valerie’s eyes were drawn to an original painting of a raccoon, but my eyes were too fast and frenzied to see its beauty. We filled the shopping cart with six prints and turned to go. But this Labor Day sale was so successful that the line of pickers’ carts was 200 feet to the cash registers. Shopping carts full of sparkly tank tops, belt buckles, pressure cookers, and steak knives. A thousand items between us and the check-out ladies. We put the prints back on the rack; this line was way too long for my patience to endure.
Yet Valerie remembered the raccoon. So, we “stole” the painting and ourselves into an old soda fountain booth on sale in a quiet eddy of the store. The raccoon is sitting pensively on a tuft of dirt among wonderfully articulated wetland plants. It is shyly musing on its reflection in the pond water. Its tail is curled around under as if it is fine in the loneliness of its hideout.
The painting is done on stretched canvas in traditional oils. It is signed by W. Bassford. The original sales slip and appraisal are still attached to the back from 1981. I wonder why this painting satisfied a family for over 30 before being discarded at the back door of this thrift store? Maybe the elderly parents passed on and the grown up kids started moving too fast to appreciate the reflective raccoon any more. Thankfully, we became quite taken with this painting in the quiet of our soda fountain booth. So, we held it close through 200 feet of pickers, as we rescued the raccoon from the frenzy.