Thursday, Jul 28, 2016
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120-mile bazaar attracts flocks of treasure hunters

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That's Tom Huff of Berkey, Ohio, shown in the mirror, among his offerings in the Historical Old Territorial Road garage sale.


Sales during a six-day, 120-mile-long yard/barn/garage sale, which stretched from Sylvania to Elkhart, Ind., suffered some from high gas prices and wet weather, but thousands of people turned out for the annual event.

During the sale, Ed Costell commuted from his home in the city of Sylvania to Fulton County, where he set up shop at the home of Dave Blesing, the Lyons area resident who came up with the idea for the highway/buyway event.

Mr. Blesing and his wife, Sue, sold off a portion of their huge collection of unusual and interesting items, including a World War I-era fainting couch.

One customer said shopping the sales was like "walking back in time."

Back in time, indeed.

When postage was 2 cents, Mrs. H. Newbirt of Toledo received a cheese cutter in the mail. The envelope - aged to the color of colby or sharp cheddar - with the Kraft metal cheese cutter still inside was among items offered by Mr. Costell.

Other cool stuff: Sta-Rite Hair Pins, advertised as "the little flare" that holds the hair; a Kentucky Club tobacco tin; an American Hard Rubber Co. comb, and three handy Lustro-Ware plastic scoops in retro colors. Except for a few Japanese-made pieces, nearly everything for sale by Mr. Costell was made in America, a stark contrast to merchandise in stores today.

Shoppers reported few garage sales between Morenci, Mich., and Fremont, Ind., but Mrs. Blesing noted that some of that area is sparsely populated. The Blesings distributed flyers about the event along the 120-mile-long route.


Bill Wagner, left, and his friend Jerry Kaiser bide their time behind an array of fishing poles that were for sale at the home of Mr. Wagner in Metamora, Ohio.


Andy Howe, a retiree who lives near London, Ont., picked up a flyer about the Historical Old Territorial Road garage sale when he was in Shipshewana, Ind., recently. Early last week he began browsing sales near Sturgis, Mich., and by midweek he was checking out merchandise in Fulton County, where at one location he bought an old, wooden yeast box.

Claudia Siemieracki of Ida, Mich., was looking for oriental items at Mark and Jeannie Delauter's home near Metamora, where customers browsed books, dishes, tools, and toys.

"I started out at garage sales in Temperance and Lambertville, and now I'm out here," said Mrs. Siemieracki, who heard about the 120-mile sale on the Internet. "I told my husband when I left that I would see him in two days," she said jokingly.

A steady stream of customers stopped by the Delauters, but many were shopping for inexpensive items, rather than higher-ticket merchandise, which sold briskly last year.

High gas prices, coupled with the overall economy, crimped spending on pricey items, the Delauters said. Instead of buying things that just sit around on shelves, "people are putting the money in their gas tanks instead," Mrs. Delauter said.

To save on gas, some Sylvania shoppers said they wouldn't go much beyond Fulton County. Perhaps next year, some said, they would venture into Morenci, Mich., or Fremont, Ind.

Rain dampened some sale locations twice during the six-day event, and a brief but severe thunderstorm sent some shoppers scurrying for their cars.

Conner Sawyers, an 8-year-old from Lyons, was searching garage sale tables for bargains on toys and was a bit worried that his family might spend the entire day going from sale to sale.

Baskets, candles, dishes, clothing, beer mugs, and jewelry were featured at some of the tables set up in the Czech Dancers Polka Club at Seward in Fulton County. Homemade food, including fried bologna sandwiches and fresh pies, were sampled by many garage-sale enthusiasts. Helping out at the club during the sale were Linda York and her 11-year-old granddaughter Sarah; Alice Herrick; Mary Gajdostik; Mary, Jo Ann, and Barb Studenka, and Mary Ann Tidswell. The club is busy planning its 38th annual polka fest, set for Aug. 5 at the hall 20 miles west of Toledo.

Anyone who wanted to participate in the third annual sale simply had to set up a place where items could be sold. At first, the sale spanned 60 miles, but the route length doubled last year. Now it extends to Elkhart and picks up several lake communities.

An Ohio Historical Marker in Berkey in western Lucas County describes the Old Territorial Road as the "earliest improved public road west from Lake Erie to the Indiana border."

Built in 1834-35, the road paralleled the Harris Line, the northern boundary of a narrow strip of land that both Ohio and Michigan contested from 1803 to 1836, when Ohio annexed it after the Toledo War.

The road became the Indiana Plank Road in 1848 and later was known as Sylvania-Metamora Road, according to the marker.

As Mr. Blesing explains it - from the east, Territorial Road starts in Sylvania as Erie Street. It becomes Sylvania-Metamora Road as it crosses Centennial Road. At Metamora, it becomes State Rt. 120. Moving slightly north into Michigan, the road is known as Morenci Highway. After crossing U.S. 127, the road reverts to Territorial Road until the Indiana line, where it becomes Indiana Rt. 120.

Contact Janet Romaker at: or


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