The Suitcase Lady


July 11, 2017, 9:43 pm

Last week, I was driving  home through a small town and spotted a little red and green plaid, upholstered couch curbside in front of a house. A hand lettered sign was propped up on the cushions:


That brought a smile to my face. No highly paid  copy editor, I thought, could have expressed it more concisely.

Since I was not in need of a couch, even one sans vermin, I keep on driving. I’m sure our cats would have loved the sofa for cuddling and scratching purposes, but they will have to do without.

The funny sign got me thinking of things that are free. America is a place where a price is put on almost everything, including the space where you put your feet in an airplane or the air you put in your tires. Sometimes it seems like we are only free to be ripped off.

So I love a bargain, and getting something that is genuinely free is the ultimate bargain. But I am also somewhat of a minimalist and I don’t take free stuff if I don’t have a need for it.

Our home has many useful and beautiful things which have come without price tags. For example, I rescued my wonderful wooden palette and paint chest from a New York garbage can. Our beach glass collection is getting so heavy, I fear for the floor. A starfish sofa pillow washed up on the beach one night, and all our beach toys were gifts from the lake. I must add, however, that the waves recently took back all the beach toys.

One of my favorite things to get free are books. Every Saturday when we take our recyclables (and garbage) to the town’s recycle center, I get something in return. Our recycle lady selectively retrieves books that people toss in the paper recycle dumpster and has created an interesting little free library.

Perhaps my father is responsible for teaching me to find joy in the ultimate free things. I remember him often singing one of his favorite songs, The Best Things in Life are Free, which was written in 1927 for a musical called Good News. Click here for the Jo Stanford version.

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