Racing to church on Easter Sunday, in time for Mass but certainly too late to find a seat on this Super Bowl of holy days, I saw a hand-lettered sign on the corner of Douglas Avenue: "Angel Collection For Sale."
An angel collection for sale? On Easter? I said a silent prayer of thanks to the patron saint of writers and hurried off to church where my worst fears were realized.
Not only were there no seats left, I was too late to find a few inches of wall space I could lean against. For exactly 60 minutes I stood straight, shifting my weight a little, but not wanting to appear as though I was experiencing the Rapture or hearing voices. Too early in the liturgical year for that.
My tiny piece of personal space was in the corner by the open doors, so I enjoyed the breeze and the view and kept thinking about the angel collection. Was this somebody's crisis of faith? Did the angel owner need money for an operation? I had plenty of time to speculate. A very new mother in front of me had a 3-inch angel tattooed on her shoulder. And her sweet, seraphic 16-day-old baby, dressed in bright blue, slept through Mass. Surely an angel incarnate.
I could hardly wait to get home and change out of my not-meant-to-be-stood-in-for-an-hour-shoes and Easter dress and set out to find the angels and the answers to my questions.
The sign was still there at the corner of Douglas and Gilman, which serves as a kind of ecumenical crossroads for Carson Valley's faithful. It would have been seen by Catholics and Methodists heading south and Lutherans and Latter-day Saints coming north from the Ranchos. It would also have been seen by people simply trying to satisfy another type of hunger and on their way to Sharkey's or the Overland for Easter dinner.
I found the house without divine intervention and was directed to the angels' display by Kristen, a 15-year-old, slightly sunburned redhead who seemed to be the proprietor of the sale. In the shade of the back porch was a folding table holding about three dozen angels. There were angel trinket boxes, a cookie jar, candle holders, angels made of glass and clay, a matching angel set of a picture, clock and diary, framed angel pictures, and a music box.
"We're selling them fairly cheap so they go to good homes," she said.
As it turned out, the sale was driven by pragmatism more than a personal religious crisis.
"We really don't have room for them," she said, "and my dog knocks 'em over."
She pointed to Zeus, a beautiful, 6-year-old black Labrador-Shar Pei mix.
Kristen said she was moving out angels to make room for her 70-piece collection of unbreakable, cuddly Beanie Babies.
"I just love them," she said.
The angel collection had been moved from California to Florida and finally to Nevada. Her mom, who was too busy to chat, had started the collection.
"She said to tell you there is a lot of love in them," Kristen said.
The most expensive angel, priced at $30, was from the Precious Moments collection and rumored to be worth $100.
At home, an eBay search of "angels," turned up 7,567 items as of 2 p.m. on Wednesday. The first page listed Hells' Angels, Charlie's Angels, City of Angels, California Angels, Snoop Dog Angels, Blue Angels and Angels With Dirty Faces. I typed in Precious Moments and came up with 7,232 items, thinking they can't be all that precious if there are so many of them and kicking myself for one more get-rich-quick scheme that got away.
I found one statue of hugging angels that kind of resembled the pair I saw at the garage sale. The original price tag was $21, the opening eBay bid was $39 and you could "BUY IT NOW!" for $50.
Besides the angels, Kristen was overseeing a typical yard sale: clothes, televisions, furniture, stereos and a wonderful assortment of odds and ends. Now redder than ever after two hot afternoons in the sun, she earned 75 percent of the profit for her efforts.
More than the money, however, she said the best parts of the sale were the precious moments she spent getting to know the boy next door.
With a stretch of the imagination, you could even say I discovered my Easter allegory: a band of angels displaced by a jealous god. C'mon, Zeus, work with me on this. Wake up, boy. Hey, where are you going?
Sheila Gardner is the night desk editor of the Nevada Appeal.
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