S and I had reserved high hopes for Montezuma, New York, deducing that the northern terminus of the Route 90 Sale — farthest from the city, and with the least picked-over stock — would yield the greatest treasures. The reality turned out differently: Montezuma, population 1400, had little to offer in the way of sales… or anything else for that matter. We breezed through the sleepy town in under 15 minutes.
The local scene may be much more happening next month during the Third Annual “Montezuma Mosquito Fest”…
Even locating a spot for breakfast turned out to be somewhat of a challenge. We passed on the “German Food” truck in Springport, and settled instead on the Be Happy Cafe in Union Springs, where 2 eggs, bacon and unlimited French toast (touted on the menu as “made with real Italian bread!”) set us back just $4.95 per person.
Even our return pass through lakeside Aurora proved a little disappointing, though we did find a cool collection of authentic ship steering wheels, bleached and weathered from years of salty spray, handles worn smooth by countless captains’ hands. No doubt a bargain at $125 apiece, but the prospect of lugging one of those iron-cored hubs onto the Metro North proved too daunting, even for our intrepid crew.
After a hearty homemade breakfast in Croton-on-Hudson, we piled into the Honda Pilot and set our GPS course for the 50-mile Route 90 Scenic Byway sale in Central New York. This annual July event began in 1989 as a means to draw visitors to the rural east side of Cayuga Lake, which is far less traveled than the vineyard-lined western edge.
S & I first learned about this event in our home state during last year’s road trip through the South for the World’s Longest Yardsale. An antiques dealer near the heart of the 127 Corridor Sale tipped us off to the similar event near New York’s Finger Lakes that he had participated in just before setting up shop in Jamestown, Tennessee. Hmm: shorter, more manageable, closer to home… I think it was pretty much decided last August that we’d be making the trip upstate this year.
The Route 90 sale wends through the historic farmland of Cortland and Cayuga counties, from Montezuma in the north to Homer in the south. Along the way, there are bucolic fields of corn and what we later determined to be soy, a few picturesque small towns, and several less-picturesque trailer parks scattered along the shores of Cayuga Lake.
Just a few hours north of New York City, it’s an entirely different world.
We started our shopping at the southern end of the route, stopping in at a few family-run barn/garage sales en route to the fields of dealers we felt sure to come across throughout the weekend.
Except such fields of treasures never materialized. Not today, anyway. The sale, such as it was, was comprised of a string of garage sales of widely varying quality. On several occasions we rolled the car slowly past the roadside tables — drive-thru style — before opting not to even bother exiting the vehicle.
If I were to have made one purchase today, it would have been this vintage Smith-Corona. I’ve always been fascinated by old typewriters — those loudly clacking, hefty relics, so economical in their keys that the lower-case “L” does double-duty as the numeral “1,” and exclamation marks are made by typing an apostrophe over a period. This one was in reasonably good working condition, too — needing only a new ribbon.
Oh no… is this what’s known as non-buyer’s remorse?
No, no. Perhaps one day I’ll have a shelf lined with these in my library or home office, but for my now, it’s enough of a challenge just to find a place to keep the towering stacks of books in my apartment.
Amish family, walking the route. I snapped this from quite a distance away, with my 6X optical zoom — is that bad?
Soon after taking the photo, as my friends and I were browsing a nearby barn sale, a flash thunderstorm rolled in and pellets of hail began to rain down from the darkened skies. I’m reasonably sure that was just a coincidence.
Check out the rest of the Route 90 Sale photos on flickr.
WFMU — “woof-moo” — is the famously eclectic, listener-supported, freeform radio station broadcasting throughout New York City and Metro New Jersey at 91.1FM, 90.1 FM in the Lower Catskills, Hudson Valley, Western New Jersey, and Eastern Pennsylvania. Along with its traditional radio broadcast — four times named the best in the nation by Rolling Stone – WFMU also broadcasts live over the internet.
The WFMU Record and CD Fair is the station’s biggest and most-anticipated event. Twice a year, the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea hosts the fundraiser: three days of buying, selling, and trading CDs and vinyl, with all door proceeds going to benefit the independent station. Very different from the last time I was here for a shopping event. It’s quite a scene, actually: as much a party as it is a sale. Over 200 dealers from around the world set up long tables stacked with every genre of music imaginable… and several I’d never even heard of. Gabber? Illbient?
I’d never really thought of music shopping as a gender-specific endeavor, but the clientele this night was strikingly male-dominated. The food offerings reflected that: beer and pizza only. In one corner, Two Boots Pizza had set up a makeshift stand, with some admittedly dreary-looking reheated pizza, which nonetheless sold out before the night was half over. (I held out for basil beef at Pongsri Thai.)
Those “desperate collectors” eager to get first crack at the stock of the weekend-long sale could pay $20 for access during the first three hours; we paid $6 to browse with the rest of the masses after work on Friday.
The WFMU Wheel-o-Fate — $1 a spin for a chance at fabulous prizes:
Puerto Rican rapper Tego Calderón’s DJ set.
We spent the next couple of hours happily sifting through milkcrates and cardboard boxes crammed with music, old and new, familiar and obscure. There was a time when I would wile away hours just like this. Not in years, though. In the age of iTunes are gatherings like these destined for obsolescence?
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