Luck of the Irish eludes reporter on assignment---

by Stannie O’Anderson
Topeka Capital-Journal

March 17, 1985

I don’t know exactly what it was, but it wasn’t the luck of the Irish Saturday.  At least not for me.

“Take a $10 bill and go over to the Next-to-New Sale, pick up some bargains, and do a story about it,” the editor suggested late Friday.

I not only did that, but inadvertently I also covered the tail end of the St. Patrick’s Day parade on Kansas Avenue.

It began innocently enough.  With $10 in hand, I drove to Municipal Auditorium.  No parking.  Around and around and around I drove. Still no open stalls.

Finally I drove toward Kansas Avenue on E. 8th and spotted a motorist backing out of a stall on the Avenue.  Triumphantly I drove into it and headed for the auditorium a block away.

There were hordes of people everywhere I looked.  I had deliberately waited to arrive at 10 a.m., figuring the crowd might have slackened a bit.  No such luck.

There were really some bargains there.  First I found a nice butcher knife for 10 cents.  I put that in my bag.

Next there were some electric hot dog cookers.  I pondered whether to buy the one that heated one hot dog and a bun, or the one that cooked six hot dogs all at once.  That one wasn’t too difficult.  I might have a luncheon for six people some day.  I put the six-dogger in my bag.  That cost me $1.50.

Next I found a potholder that is just perfect for the color scheme in my kitchen.  Mark down another 10 cents.

Now for the glassware.  I chose a heavy glass mug (40 cents), a topaz wine glass (20 cents), an attractive coffee mug decorated with violets (30 cents), and four small salad plates (10 cents each).

Next I found a portable hair dryer in a neat plastic case ($1.80). And a rose-and-white sewing chest—just the one I’d been searching for.  That cost me a rousing $2—but well worth the price.

By this time I had spent $6.80, which meant I had $3.20 left to squander on clothes on sale on the main level of the auditorium.

So I paid for my lower-level bargains and headed upstairs.  Then I had to go outside and come back in through another door where I was told I would have to check my parcels.

Then came my downfall—on the clothes floor.  Everywhere I looked there were rows and rows of pants, sweaters, blouses, T-shirts, and dresses, all on hangers.  And the prices!

I joined the packs of bargain-hungry customers.  It was easy.  Before I knew it, I had picked out one blouse, four T-shirts and three pairs of pants.  Oops! That adds up to $4.  (Sorry, Boss.  How can I possibly give one of them up? Anyway, I’m spending my own money.)

Next, I spotted an elegant pantsuit for only $2. Into the bag.

Then I passed by a long table covered with purses.  One was a beautiful, genuine leather purse for only 50 cents.  I’d have to be crazy to pass up a bargain like that.

Just as I’m headed toward the door, I saw it!  The neatest little blue coat with a mink collar, just my size.  Was it $500?  No, indeed.  Just $5.

I wrote out my second check, this time for $12.  Even the Junior League checkout girl said admiringly, “That coat is neat!”

I left just before the place emptied to make ready for a half-price sale.  I thought longingly about it, but figure I’d have to borrow my neighbor’s truck to get any more bargains home.

I had four heavy bagfuls of bargains, two of them at another door.  The first checkout place would not allow me to carry the parcels to the second checkout. Nor would the second place allow me to carry bags to where the other parcels were.

So at last I made a deal with the sale worker.  I would take two of the parcels to my car, drive back to the auditorium, park about a half-minute while I ran up to the front door to get my other two parcels.

I was on my way toward Kansas Avenue when I realized that a small amount of Irish blood in me hadn’t kept me lucky.  I’d forgotten the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  The parking place I had found on Kansas Avenue suddenly didn’t seem quite so convenient.

There were thousands of people thronging the Avenue, wearing green clothes, green hats, waving green balloons and having a thoroughly Irish good time and a goodly percentage of the were leaning on my parked car.

I squeezed my way across the street to my car and put my two parcels inside.  But no way was I going to get my car out of there without flattening 10 or 12 Irishmen waiting for the parade.

So I walked back to the auditorium and retrieved my two other bundles.  I fought my way back to Kansas Avenue.  The celebrants were still enthusiastically parading.  I made my way back to the car.

And that is how I happened to cover the tail end of the St. Patrick’s Day parade as well as the Next-to-New Sale.

And what a tail end of a parade!  There was a green tractor, a green Bookmobile, Huffn’Puff trucks that hissed and shot huge flames into the air, people tossing candy to kids in the crowd, horse-drawn buggies, and old fashioned police car, pretty girls in bright green dresses, and I swear I’m reporting accurately when I say that some of the paradewatchers told me they saw a dog with a green shamrock painted on its back.

Next year, I think it would be a good idea to send some other reporter to the Next-to-New Sale with a $10 bill.  I just can’t seem to miss a parade, and I’m susceptible to mink!