Inveterate Collector Cleans House

July 09, 1995|By TaNoah V. Sterling | TaNoah V. Sterling,Sun Staff Writer

Joseph Lavonis, 69, sits in his front yard on Mountain Road amid a lifetime of old treasures:

A ceramic statue of the Virgin Mary with a plastic Christmas wreath hung around her neck, plastic trophies, rusted tools and nails, old chairs and tables -- no two alike.

A hand-painted sign reads, "Joes Yard Sale."

"I just picked up stuff years ago," he says. "I have some stuff I bought from the flea market. People throw away a lot of good things."

One of the castoffs is a lawn mower sitting on the corner of his lawn. The wire connecting the throttle has been ripped off. He's not sure whether the mower works, but it used to, he says.

A folding table he picked up for $20 at a flea market is suspended between two chairs. The legs won't fold out. He'll be lucky to get $5 for it, he said.

And there's an old iron anchor he found in the mud while swimming. Mr. Lavonis swears it's an antique from the 1800s. He said he never got rid of it, because he figured he could sell it.

But now he wants to get rid of it.

The old stuff, the new stuff, the broken stuff, the used stuff: He's putting it all on sale.

"Where are you going get a clock like that for $2?" he asked, proudly displaying an electric miniature grandfather clock.

For two or three weeks, the treasure trove will be on display outside his cottage house near the Eastern District police station.

Whatever he can't sell, he'll give to the Salvation Army or Purple Heart. The sale is a form of housecleaning and a chance to help a few people along the way, said Mr. Lavonis.

"I sell them stuff reasonable. I just get rid of most of this stuff to help people out," he said. "I like charity, you know. I give to them all over the place."

Just because Mr. Lavonis is being nice doesn't mean the silver-haired, longtime Baltimore resident will take just any price for his belongings.

He won't let the four-holed, pink-and-black bowling ball he found go for less than $10. And someone will have to offer at least $5 for a pair of white sneakers.

"This guy came in here and try to get these shoes for $1," he said, holding up the shoes. "They only been worn one week. Do you believe it? Cheapskate. I told him to get out of here."

Inside his cramped, cluttered home are the things Mr. Lavonis won't sell:

Pictures of the Last Supper, gaudy pink lamps, a tableful of Walt Disney statues, including a big-eared Mickey Mouse rattle.

Mr. Lavonis never had children, but he likes his cartoon collection all the same. A bachelor, he lives alone with his stuff and has a place for each item.

Right now, though, he figures he'll put some of the items back in circulation.

"They say what goes around comes around. That's my belief," he said.

"The Lord didn't put you in this world to be greedy. That's the way I look at it. There's other people worse off than we are."

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.