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John Blankenship polishes silver as Ruth Bohrer, Pat Robbennolt, Ruth Peeples, and Corey Boniface clean other articles for the Silent Auction in Pleasant Hill.

For 27 years a large crew of Pleasant Hillers have spent a great deal of time preparing for the annual Silent Auction held for three days in September. The big push comes during the months of August and September, but preparation happens all year. When someone in the area downsizes to an apartment, assisted living, or passes on, they or their family are faced with a lifetime accumulation of possessions. In this age of reusing and recycling, it is heartwarming to know that something they have treasured might find a place in someone else’s home. The proceeds from this sale are used by the May Cravath Wharton Association, which is under the Uplands Village umbrella to provide scholarships, food, utilities’ help to locals in need, aid to Fletcher House of Assisted Living, and Wharton Homes.

Dr. Fred and Helen Munson came to Pleasant Hill in 1968, joining the staff of the Cumberland Clinic in Crossville after medical missionary work in India. Dr. Munson became the Medical Director of Wharton Nursing Home in 1978. One of the new Wharton homes is named in his honor. The Munsons built a home just across the road from the old nursing home on Lake Street where the present Medical Director, Dr. Richard Braun now lives. They started the Silent Auction in 1984 using the proceeds to benefit the Wharton Nursing Home through the Wharton Auxiliary precursor to the Wharton Association. That first auction netted almost $5000. Recent auctions have earned in the range of $15,000 to $25,000. Ed and Alma Spindler, JoAnn and Bob Matheson, Howard and Trudie Palm, Margaret and Norman Vogel continued this elegant sale, which was held first in the Community House and then in Heritage Hall. Of course it was moved to the Blue Barn on Lake Street after it was built. Helen Munson typed cards for each item with its description and minimum bid. All of the bids and records were kept by hand until Dick Riesz developed a computer program greatly easing this task. Although many people worked with these tireless chairs, three couples usually did most of the work. Today upwards of 50 or more volunteers work steadily for two months on its set up, although collection of items goes on all year.  

Each year the chairs add innovations, but the basic concept remains as those early leaders designed it. Quality furniture, appliances, artistic pieces, linens, jewelry, dishes, silver, interesting or unusual antiques, and foreign treasures are repaired, cleaned, and polished. Valuable donations are assessed by experts. The chairs of each of the departments write up the descriptions and set a minimum bid. The computer crew enters a tracking number, description, with the minimum bid and a card is printed out with these pertinent facts. Patrons have three days to look over the collection and may make as many bids as they want to, which are kept confidential. At the end of the sale days, the computer tracks the bids, selecting the highest one. If two bids should be the same, the earliest date and time is used to determine the victor. Soon after, the telephone crew takes over calling the lucky bidders and informing them when to come to pick up their items. The packing crew takes over, expertly protecting the purchases, preparing them for their new owners. This year’s Silent Auction will be on Thursday, Sept. 22, 4 – 8 p.m.; Friday, Sept. 23, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.; and Saturday, Sept. 24, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Co-Chairs, Jim Olds and Jack Seville head up the 2011 Sale. Antique dealers from East Tennessee and other nearby states favor this Sale because these life-long collections have not been in the public domain since they were new.

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The Grab thrift store in Pleasant Hill will hold a special two-day $1/bag sale on Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. each day. The Grab is in a building on the east side of Kash and Kari on West Main Street in Pleasant Hill. Call Donna Iles, (931) 200-2857 for questions or directions.

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